Usually, when a newcomer is looking for a job in the new country, he or she doesn’t know anyone – no friends/connections from school, army, university, previous jobs or family friends. Yes, it’s harder for one to be hired for a great job, than it is to a born and raised Israeli.
Especially when the latest studies indicate that referral programs are the leading strategy that companies are using to hire new employees. Some employee referral statistics (2020, source):
- 48% of businesses say that their top channel for quality hires are employee referrals.
- Referred candidates are hired 55% faster.
- Referred hires produce 25% more profit than hires from other sources.
“How did I join Checkmarx through referral?” – you may be asking yourself.
My personal story that I’ll share below is about the long way (3.5 years!) it took me to break into tech without learning how to code, or pretending to be someone I’m not.
If you’re looking to stand out in the crowd and get hired by referral, continue reading this blog post. The main takeaways from this lengthy path are:
- Start creating or curating content
- Look for volunteering opportunities or create them
- Networking, networking, networking using social media, especially LinkedIn
- Be patient, resilient and keep smiling. Believe that you can still be EXTRAORDINARY, even if you don’t have a job or speak perfect Hebrew!
My long journey was worth it! I hope that, by sharing my personal story, I’ll be able to inspire other people that are struggling to find their way into a fulfilling career in a new country.
Blogging and Building a Personal Brand
In 2018, when I had to look for a new job in Israel, I decided to share this personal experience and began writing a blog. I started to write using LinkedIn Article and then migrated to a more professional and more visible outlet – The Times of Israel, blog session.
People would ask me questions like “why invest so much time on something that you don’t monetize?”, or “what do you gain by sharing so many gold tips and tools you’ve built for your own job search?”, or even “you’re looking for a job! Focus on your own job search”.
I had many reasons, but the most important for this blog post is that blogging is a powerful tool that helped me get the job I wanted. And it happened to me for the second time! You can read about the first time here.
Why is a blog important for who’s looking for a job in a new country? This is the professional image online, the personal brand. There isn’t a character count limitation in blogs, unlike a one-page resume format.
I started to enjoy the ride and decided to start learning SEO and LinkedIn’s tricks to organically grow my posts, like using hashtags correctly and having more than three trending posts. This was when I decided to go even deeper in my knowledge on mastering LinkedIn and doing more effective networking, using this great tool!
Volunteering to Develop New Skills
Fast forward to March 2020, my birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! They’re my special day! And last year, here in Israel, we were locked down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This didn’t stop me from having a blast on my virtual birthday! And I wrote about it on my blog, explaining how I:
- Prepared a fun invitation using all kind of different apps
- Organized separate meetings considering everyone’s timezone
- Set meetings on Zoom (lots of people hadn’t even heard of Zoom before COVID-19)
- Prepared activities to engage with friends and family in lockdown, and so on…
With this post, I was able to show to my audience that I’m tech-savvy, can work globally, that I know how to use Zoom/have video skills, and know how to engage close people (family and friends).
A week after my birthday, I decided to start my own virtual community: Kadima Brasil, something like “Onward Brasil”: a group aimed at sharing knowledge and networking among qualified Brazilian professionals in the Israeli job market.
Again, I wrote about it on my blog: how I was using my creativity and honing important skills for the “PC” (Post Coronavirus) time, showcasing my new digital marketing skills:
- Planning and hosting virtual live events
- Leading and engaging a wider audience online (webinars and Facebook group)
- Conducting the gamification of virtual networking meetings
- Building a YouTube channel and sharing video content knowledge (in Portuguese)
- Managing volunteers and executing projects in favor of the community, and so on…
Nurturing Relationships, Especially When You Don’t Need Them
One month ago, almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, I received an email from Shay Dorfman, asking for a referral for a position that wasn’t even published on the company’s website yet.
Shay and I worked together in Netafim, back in 2016-2017. I used to say that he was a great coffee buddy. We weren’t working in the same department, but we worked on the same floor and met a lot during coffee breaks (the part I have missed the most in this last year).
After I left Netafim, Shay and I exchanged a few emails. I asked for his help a couple of times when I was looking for a job. But I also sent him some potential candidates for positions at the companies he was working for.
We also kept an online interaction on LinkedIn and Facebook, by commenting and liking each other’s contents. Because of my constant communication, Shay appeared a lot on my LinkedIn feed. I assume it was reciprocal and Shay perceived my strong digital presence.
Then, Shay started in a new position in one of my targeted companies. Why did I target Checkmarx? Simple! Because it’s located very close to where I live (Ramat Gan). In the period between Netafim and Checkmarx, I found jobs outside the Tel-Aviv area: Hod Hasharon, Rosh Hayin, Haifa. And whoever lives in the Tel-Aviv area without a car, knows how complicated it is to commute…
I invited Shay for a coffee, but it was during Corona’s period. So you know that it didn’t happen… Our roads crossed again now, when Shay was looking for someone with the exact skills I’ve developed over time, independently and that I’ve showcased through my blog and personal brand.
I received an email directly from the hiring manager asking if I knew anyone to refer. It happened to be the perfect position for me!
I can proudly share that, in February 2021, three and a half years after I left Netafim, I began working at Checkmarx as a Talent Marketing Specialist. I wake up every day with a big smile on my face, because I’m proud of my achievement. And this definitely reflects positively on the outcome of my work.
Great story, right? I’m truly happy and I want to spread the love!
My company is hiring all over the world! Check out our career website. If you find something that matches your skills, I’ll be happy to refer you internally.
If you’re a job seeker and are looking to increase your presence on LinkedIn, ping me. When sending the connection invitation, please write an introduction.
I’ll be happy to comment on your posts, and start a conversation or invite relevant people to the conversation! And you’ll have to pay it forward to someone else as well. 🙂