I moved to Israel two years ago. After doing a Hebrew course (Ulpan) and some occasional jobs that were available for new immigrants, I decided to try my luck in big Israeli companies operating in English.
It is common that in the beginning, most English speaking immigrants with limited Hebrew do jobs like caregivers (Hebrew word for a caregiver — מטפלת metapelet ) for dogs, seniors or children, teaching, or copywriting. In other words, you do all sorts of low paying jobs and random work to make your ends meet in Israel. Once you are confident with Hebrew and locals, you can start navigating in the job market for qualified English speakers.
It is not simple to market yourself if you do not know cultural specifics of Israel even if you are talking about big companies, which operate on international standards. Israel culture is high-context, which means it could take you years of interaction and personal experiences with the locals to start “speaking their language”.
I want to present some of the top tips and tricks I learned from my own experience and mistakes while dealing with the recruiters from international companies located here in Israel.
Below are the top 5 errors to avoid when dealing with headhunters in Israel.
1. Don’t Introduce Yourself in Hebrew
I know you are eager to demonstrate your Hebrew. Most probably you think like me — Look, look, I am a hard-worker, a pure talent, I have made linguistic wonders in language acquisition. It just does not work for a recruiter who is interested in your professional experience in the field unless it is a job in Hebrew.
If this is your case, do not worry, it will take five minutes to understand you are not ready for Hebrew speaking positions. That was my case when I applied for hotel administrator role, which required three languages — English, Hebrew, and Russian. Three of them should be at equal level.
Talking in English will give you confidence and avoid misunderstanding. Recruiters in international companies usually understand English perfect.
2. Don’t Stress It If You’re Not Jewish
For many Israelis, even though they are internationally trained English speaking recruiters, a declaration “I am not Jewish” can mean — you are not going to stay in the country for long, you are just visiting.
Save making this declaration unless you are asked to provide a paper from the Interior Ministry about your religious status, which is used not to check if you are “kosher” but, mainly, to help HR administrators enumerate your off-days salary according to Christian, Muslim or Jewish workdays.
3. Don’t Talk about Your Marital and Family Status Too Much
If you are in mid-thirties and a woman, it means you are potentially going to get pregnant. Israel is a very child-centered country, so people here assume that your reproductive potential will be realized sooner than the professional one.
If you show that you are married and do not have children, the recruiter most likely will decide you are next on the maternity leave list and will quietly throw your CV in the trash. It does not mean that you should include an extended medical file or an ideological essay why you can’t have children. Just do not complicate it.
Avoid unnecessary confusion unless asked at final stages of an interview when, hopefully, you have already charmed the recruiter.
4. Don’t Lose Your Point
Life in Israel is very dynamic and polarized. Everything is highly heated up here. If you are asked to tell about yourself, do not start from your big Jewish family tree or your spiritual views. Put aside mysticism; your mission now is to get a job. If you value the recruiter’s time your chances to get to the next stages of the interview will increase dramatically.
Talk about specific job experiences and skills relevant to the applied position. Remember — always stick to the point.
5. Don’t Talk Only About Work
An organization is only as good as its people. It is essential to show that you are not a nudnik (Hebrew word for an annoying, nagging person). Israelis’ main life motto is “Osim Haim.” Do life. Enjoy. Have fun. Show the recruiter that you have hobbies and practice life outside of office walls. Israelis value that highly.
If you avoid the above five common mistakes, you will eventually get closer to your dream job in Israel. Good luck!