How to Rebuild Your Professional Life in Israel

Have you ever lived in a country where you don`t speak the local language, don’t know many people, and don`t have a job or a place to live? How would you feel to leave your life behind and to start over in a new place where every element of your life would be completely new? This much change can be a lot, but change IS good. Sometimes it is difficult, hard, tough but it is manageable and doable.

I’ve experienced it, and you might have too: When you move to a new country, everything changes, including the language, culture, mentality, food, friends, work… Adaptation takes time but it won’t take forever… You’ll need to adapt. For instance, building a career will take time and it will be challenging. The best way is to learn from others with experience, who’ve had a similar journey with what lies ahead of you.

A few months ago, Turkish Professional Israel Network and JConnect initiated a fantastic networking event to help to guide new immigrants (olim hadashim) from Turkey on how to (re)build careers in Israel. The event had networking sessions, a panel of olim who transitioned to thriving careers in Israel, motivational 5-minute speeches, a refresher on how to write an Israeli CV, and a keynote address from a successful Turkish-Israeli entrepreneur. Although the event was for Turkish immigrants, the stories and advice are applicable to you — imminent or current immigrants from any country to Israel.

Sharing your experience helps others and ultimately, our communities. We all were once in the starting point as new immigrants. So now, we are sharing with you a bunch of practical tips and advice from the event.

This event was hosted by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and JConnect.

Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality – Olim in Tel Aviv`s mission is to provide Olim in Tel Aviv with as much information and as many opportunities as possible, to make Tel Aviv not just the city you live in but your home. Follow them at https://www.facebook.com/Olim.Tel.Aviv/

JConnect offers a network for young Jewish Professionals from Europe and Israel to encourage innovation, nurture business, cooperation and share knowledge.

Follow: https://www.facebook.com/JConnectForum/

Thank you to our hosts and speakers representing a multitude of professions and sectors, including, Digital Marketing, Graphic Design, Treasury, HR, Sales, Nonprofit, Immigrant Absorption, and — from a number of impressive companies and organizations across Israel — Ironsource, Pelephone, Philip Morris, Yediot Ahronot, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Magen David Adom and more…

Without further delay, below is helpful and practical advice from the panelists and presenters at the event, for you, new immigrants, as you start (re)building your career in Israel.

When Preparing Your CV for the Israeli Job Market…

  • For each position you apply for, adapt your CV!
  • Your CV shouldn’t be longer than one A4 page (except for academic CV).
  • The top of the page should have your personal info, including Name, Phone Number, and Email address. By Israeli law, you are not obligated to write your address and age. Also, you don’t need to include a picture of yourself.
  • Following personal information, include a summary of your experience (“Objectives”), your educational background, professional experience, languages, and skills.
  • Use a clear font, and keep it consistent. For example, Arial, Black, 12
  • No spelling mistakes!

Because You Are Trying to Find a Job in Israel, Remember…

  • You need to be stubborn in Israel, be a “nudnik!”
  • Follow up with opportunities that come your way!
  • There is no such thing as “I applied for the job and nobody got in touch with me”. If you didn’t hear from them, you call and check the status of your application.
  • Gvahim is an organization that helps highly skilled olim to find jobs. They provide a program which prepares you for interviews, helps you with your CV and assists you in finding the best job for you (disclaimer: I did their program for new olim!). Ageandwork, Nefesh B’Nefesh are great channels as well.
  • It is very important to join to meetups and networking events. Get in touch with people you meet in these events. You never know which contact will open a door for you to find a job.
  • It may sound simple but sometimes, a smile or giving a compliment will help people to remember who you are.
  • Help others without expecting anything in return. You never know when you will collect returns, but somehow, you will.
  • Nisha is a leading recruitment company in Israel and they offer free services.
  • LinkedIn is the most popular platform for employers. That’s why your profile should be super organized, clear, and professional. Before the interview, the employer checks your LinkedIn profile and sometimes even your Facebook profile. Sometimes it is just to get more information about you, and sometimes they check to see if you have common connections, they might contact those connections to get feedback about you.
  • Friends are the best channel to find work. You need to ask for help from people in your circles first. There may be relevant positions for you in their workplace. Even if there isn’t, word of mouth is the most powerful way to find a job.
  • Go to networking events and hang out with Israelis or Olim Vatikim (veteran immigrants). It is very important to learn from their experience to lead your way.

A Panel of Olim Who Have Rebuilt Their Careers Say….

  • Hebrew is important! Forget that you speak English, and try to learn the language.
  • Follow the radio and newspapers to ‘get’ the language and culture.
  • Try to focus on the language in your first year. Go to Ulpan and try to integrate with Israelis.
  • If you move to Israel at an age that allows you to serve in the army, do it. It is a plus. Use this as an advantage — it will be very helpful for learning Hebrew and the culture.

If They Had to Look for a Job Right Now, Our Panelists With Established Careers Would…

  • Make an excel sheet for all the opportunities, in order to follow up properly.
  • Check on LinkedIn, or Facebook Groups for openings, and go to Meetups…
  • People in Graphic Design or similar fields should prepare a portfolio of their work. It is important to have a website where you can present your work.
  • In the financial sector, be diligent and meet people.
  • Find HR managers and Country Managers of the companies you are interested in, on LinkedIn, and get in contact with them. You can even have coffee with them to build a relationship.
  • If you know a specific person’s name in a specific company, you can try to send an email by trying several options such as namelastname@companyname.com, namefirstletteroflastname@companyname.com, etc. These are how the emails are commonly built.
  • Your lack of knowledge in the language shouldn’t be a deal breaker. You should show them and convince them why and how you are the most relevant candidate for the job. They should see that you are confident. This will make it easier to convince them.
  • It is natural to have a cultural shock in the beginning, but don’t keep silent. Try to adapt yourself and respond.
  • If the job offered to you is a relevant job for you, give it a chance. Your salary can be raised after you start working and you prove yourself.

When Asked About Top Advice They Give When People Ask for Job Search Help, They Said…

  • Don’t be emotional about it. If you send your CV and don’t get a response, keep sending and looking… HRs receive so many CVs each day. They can’t respond to each applicant.
  • Don’t rely on email only, make phone calls to follow up.
  • Global companies have pages on social media, you can communicate with them from those channels as well (if you need to).
  • There are some companies where you can knock on their door and hand in your CV in person.
  • If you didn’t hear from the position you applied for, check similar positions in other companies, and check the competitors.
  • When you get a negative response, try to ask for feedback to understand why it didn’t work out. It will help you prepare you for the next candidacy.

Some Data from a Harvard University Study about Job Search and Your CV Say…

  • HRs look at each CV for 6 seconds initially. That’s why it is important to highlight places that you worked at and roles on your CV.
  • 17% of cover letters are read.
  • Your email address is important. If it’s something like spiceygirl79@rocketmail.com, there is a 76% chance that your CV will not be read.
  • 68% of companies are checking your social media accounts: Facebook, Google, Instagram, and LinkedIn… Parties you go to, types of friends you have — will all be seen (based on your social media privacy settings, of course).
  • Your home location and address can be considered as part of your job application. Pay attention to that.
  • HRs receive an average of 250 CVs for most of the open positions.
  • Misspelling looks unprofessional. Make sure to use spell check on Word.

You Are an Immigrant. You Have an Invaluable Experience. Here’s How You Can Stand Out.

  • Write your Aliyah date, and that you are studying at Ulpan: this gives the employer context.
  • If you are from a country with a population larger than Israel, it is an advantage. Show to the employer the value of your experience working with a larger population.
  • If you applied to a position via someone you know but you didn’t hear anything from them, ask about the HR or hiring manager`s email address. Over email, share your personal story and why you are a good match for this position. The employer might then give you a chance, and want to review your CV.
  • You may have had a very distant relationship with your managers abroad. In Israel it is different. See it as an advantage.
  • In Israel, there is a fear to be a fool, a “freier”. People view it as ‘others work less than me and get the same money so why should I work hard?’ Keep working hard, be a freier.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others, show the value that you add to the role. People will notice that, and they’ll remember you as a hard working person.
  • Professional courses: If you can afford them, or if Misrad Haklita (Ministry of Immigrant Absorption) can cover the cost, take the courses. If not, don’t be in a hurry because the courses are very expensive and in most cases, they are in Hebrew. First, learn the language, and then focus on courses.

These are great tips and advice for any person who is looking for a job in Israel, not necessarily new immigrants. Now that you’ve read what works best to find the best job for you, start your journey and rebuild your professional life in Israel!

Helpful? We recommend that you share this with a few immigrants that you know, and share your advice in the comments!

Feel free to be in touch with us – JConnect at rinabarbut@gmail.com or the Turkish Professional Israel Network at turkishisraelnetwork@gmail.com

Wishing you much luck and success!

About the Author
Rina Barbut, made aliyah from Turkey in 2008. In Israel, she’s been working in business and technology related positions at global companies and completed an International MBA. For years she led Jewish educational and social activities in Turkey and Europe. Rina is currently developing JConnect Forum, a network for young Jewish professionals from Israel and Europe to nurture business cooperation.
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