One of the biggest challenges of moving to any new country is finding a job and aliyah to Israel is no exception. It can be daunting to seek employment in a country where the norms are different from your home country, the primary language is Hebrew and everyone else seems to know each other. But have no fear; many olim are gainfully employed in Israel and you can be too.
Your first step in your job search is to create a resume (or CV as it tends to be called here) that fits Israeli standards. CVs should be one page long and include a list of skills above your experience and education. If you’ve had many jobs, remove the oldest ones and the least relevant to the job you are applying for, so you can keep to the one page format.
Whether you need a Hebrew CV is dependent on the industry you work in and the type of job you are looking for. Even many Israelis submit English CVs, especially in the hi-tech industry. It’s best to ask around in your industry (you can easily do this on a Facebook or LinkedIn group if you don’t personally know anyone who works in the field) to find out what language your CV should be in.
Until recently, CVs always included personal information like marital status, children and home address, so you might be told to add these to your CV. But most experts in job hunting are now recommending against this, since these personal details can cause prejudice.
When sending a CV to a company, include a cover letter in your email of up to 5 sentences, detailing why you are the right person for this job. Your cover letter should be tailored to the job you are applying for, so send a different one for each application.
It’s important to have references prepared as companies will often ask for them. If there’s no room on your CV to list them, you can leave them out, but make sure that you have names ready and that you have asked for permission to share their contact information. Be sure to add a line on your CV that says “References available upon request.” If you are asked for references, provide names, phone numbers and email addresses.
One place to search for a job is online. There are a number of Hebrew job posting websites (some may require a paid membership) and the Nefesh B’Nefesh Job Board and Janglo website list jobs that are geared specifically to olim, many not requiring any Hebrew. Jobs are also listed on Facebook and LinkedIn groups, especially those catering to English speakers. Cities with large Anglo populations tend to have local Facebook groups which may have job opportunities and there are also groups devoted to job postings and career advice.
It’s true that a lot of Israelis find jobs through relatives and old army buddies. You may not have those, but you might have friends who made aliyah before you, acquaintances who are willing to lend a hand and Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections who are happy to support fellow olim. Put yourself out there by calling and posting on social media about the kind of job you are looking for. This is commonly done by Israelis, whether they are looking for their first job or have left their previous job for whatever reason. You may hear about positions that haven’t been advertised yet or get your CV on the top of the pile because of a personal recommendation, so this is well worth doing.
Reaching Out to Companies Directly
If there’s a company you would like to work for, you can reach out directly to their HR department and ask if they are hiring. Even if they aren’t, they will often keep your CV on file and contact you later if an appropriate position becomes available.
Working for a Foreign Company
If you have previously worked in a company with offices around the world, find out if there’s an Israeli office you can apply to work at. You might even be able to transfer your existing position to the Israeli office. It is also possible to work for a company outside of Israel, if they are comfortable with hiring a remote employee. Many olim work from home or in a shared workspace for a company based in their home country.
This won’t always work, since many local subsidiaries of global companies are not interested in putting an employee of a foreign subsidiary on their books due to factors such as budget, headcount restrictions and payroll imbalance. It never hurts to ask, though!
Headhunters, Career Consultants and HR Companies
Depending on your industry, you may find that a headhunter can help match you with a position that’s right for you. Headhunters specialize in helping companies (usually large ones) find the right employee. They are paid by the firm which is hiring and do not take payment from job seekers.
Career consultants help people navigate the job search. They are paid for their time and expertise, regardless of whether you find a job. According to Marna Becker of MRB Consulting, career consultants can help you by sharing their built-in network, improving your CV, boosting your networking skills and troubleshooting why you’re having trouble finding a job.
Career consultants are especially useful if you are looking for your first job in Israel, don’t have a strong network here and are not familiar with the norms and company culture in the country. They are also helpful if you’re just entering the workforce and need help deciding what profession to pursue based on your skillset, personality traits etc. Additionally, a career consultant can be of great assistance if you’re contemplating a career change and aren’t sure what you want to do or how to transfer your skills to a new field.
There are also human resource companies which specialize in placing employees in positions. Be aware that these companies are sometimes also the employers, and the salary and perks of the job may differ from those offered to the employees of the company proper.
When to Apply
If you’re making aliyah now, be aware that Israeli companies tend to want their employees to start sooner rather than later, so searching for a job months before moving to Israel is likely to be futile. Use that time to check out the job market in your field and make some connections, and start applying shortly before aliyah or once you are already here.
If you are currently employed in Israel, make sure you know how much notice you need to give your current employer, so you don’t end up in a situation where you can’t take a job you were offered due to an early start time. (The notice period is generally a month if you have worked at a job for at least a year.) If you’re on maternity leave, start looking for work close to when you are willing to start a new job.
An exception to this rule is if you are in a field where contracts are on a set schedule, like education. Conventional wisdom is to start searching for a position in education around Pesach time, in order to start in September.
Job interviews are often less formal and this can take some olim by surprise. Questions might range from the professional to the personal, and don’t be surprised if there’s some Jewish geography mixed in. Candidates are often asked what their salary expectations are. You can sometimes turn the question on them and get them to tell you what they want to pay, but this won’t always work, so be prepared with a range and be open to negotiation.
Job hunting in Israel may take some time, but the jobs are out there and you can certainly find one. Wishing you a successful and smooth job search!