Getting olim on the high-tech highway

March 2020 should have marked the beginning of tourist season in Israel, with planeloads of visitors eager to explore all that this country has to offer. Instead, COVID-19 quickly became the sole focus of the world. 

Two years later, the pandemic and its associated challenges have persisted. Included in the myriad of unfortunate consequences of the pandemic in Israel has been a significant decrease in employment opportunities, which has negatively impacted a large part of the population, especially new Olim seeking to integrate into the Israeli workforce.

At Nefesh B’Nefesh, we pride ourselves on not only helping Olim move to Israel, but also ensuring they become acclimated. As such, the pandemic made it incumbent on us to find solutions to the employment crisis for our newest citizens. 

Enter SalesClass. Jake Levant, an Oleh who immigrated from Canada 20 years ago, approached me with the idea of Nefesh B’Nefesh bringing his innovative six-week training course in high-tech sales to our broad network of new immigrants. Given that most Olim are skilled communicators and storytellers, concentrating on sales careers seemed like a promising solution. 

Specifically, SalesClass teaches native English speakers a full range of sales skills, including how to identify worthwhile leads, conduct a sales pitch, and negotiate and close a deal. As a bonus, SalesClass addresses Israel’s larger problem of being a successful “start-up nation” that lacks the manpower to sell its innovations to the rest of the world.

To date, Nefesh B’Nefesh has successfully trained more than 130 people through SalesClass, 75% of whom (including former elementary school teachers and tour guides) are now in lucrative, high-tech sales careers. By merely learning how to make their resumes attractive to sales recruiters, some students even managed to land a job during the class! 

How are they succeeding so quickly? Simply put, high-tech companies don’t just need developers and coders; they also need “first line of defense” sales teams to explain their technology to potential clients.

Skeptical and intimidated by a career change, Olim often ask if it’s possible to dive into the high-tech world after only six weeks of training. As I tell them, SalesClass’ graduates are not succeeding because of their high-tech knowledge. Rather, determination, a strong work ethic, and native English are the keys. 

In addition, the SalesClass formula has been replicated with MarketingClass, a program focused on building a portfolio and navigating social media, public relations, email writing, and basic content writing to gain the necessary skills to break into the marketing field. Although still in its infancy, MarketingClass is already showing promising results. In fact, after just six weeks of completing the pilot marketing program, three of 30 students have secured jobs.

Lastly, SalesClass and MarketingClass students gain access to an entire network of connected Olim. This connection benefits new immigrants in the business world, as well as socially.

Nefesh B’Nefesh is proud to partner with SalesClass and MarketingClass to provide Olim with the necessary resources to find meaningful work and succeed in their new home.  

About the Author
Rachel Berger is vice president of employment and recruitment for Nefesh B’Nefesh.
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