Olim’s Value in Mitigating Culture


I get to advise and help quite a few young professionals (and seniors, from time to time) who made Aliyah, or consider making Aliyah to Israel. These could be Masa Israel Journey graduates, ex-Taglit-Birthright Israel participants, or others. I keep seeing the same pattern time and again. Once their program is over, and they are on their own, things become quite difficult, especially when it comes to landing their first real job in Israel.

I can only imagine that no immigration process is easy, never, anywhere. But, above the obvious obstacles of a business network, language, etc — In Israel, cultural gaps are sometimes extreme, and are much more difficult than in immigrating to other places. Meaning, the cultural gap between your country of origin and Israel is much bigger than your country of origin and most other countries (that are immigration destinations).

There are quite a lot of examples to this, and many reasons for why it is like that, but maybe this is for another post. So, here’s what I find, consistently and repeatedly, as a practical piece of advise for Olim:

Look for the place where you can bring the highest value by mitigating culture.

Since I believe we are all business units in today’s on-demand economy, you always need to communicate to the market (and your potential employer among them) how you’re not just “better”, but different.

You can try to compete by proving you are a better, faster, more experienced (and maybe ever cheaper) lawyer, accountant, analysts, logistic operator, or any other skill-based role. But, that does not show how you are different.

And that’s where culture comes in.

I would suggest you to look for potential employers who could really use your cultural intelligence, especially in communication-based fields such as business development, account management, marketing and sales. Because, those potential employers are actually doing business with stakeholders in your home country. And, you know how to write that email in your home culture. You know how to articulate the copy. You know when to send it. You know when to talk – and when to listen. You could understand subtle messages from prospects (such as “let’s keep in touch in the future” as an obvious “no”) and not waste useful time on dead leads. Guess what, you also know a person or two in your home country, that can maybe even open a door or two.

From “The New World of Work”, part of Assaf Luxembourg’s “The Culture of Innovation” keynote speech

So, you made Aliyah and want to work as a financial consultant in Israel? Cool, look for local consulting firms who actually have interests, customers, partners and business in in your home country. That’s where you start.

Don’t just aim to help your potential future boss where you want to, but rather where they actually need. Like – overseas sales, marketing, growth, etc. Because, when you realize that you are a business unit, you also understand that your boss is your customer. Come to them not only as “the person with the skills” – but also as “the one that can understand us and our clients, and help us reach our goals, and not just check the boxes for the salary.” Now, that’s differentiating yourself.

So Yalla, go find the right potential employer (customer!) to help with mitigating culture, and sell them yourself.

Happy hunting.

About the Author
Assaf is passionate about promoting business in and with Israel, helping and mentoring entrepreneurs, advising young professionals with career planning and self-fulfillment, and more. Assaf acts as a brand ambassador of Israel as 'Start-Up Nation', speaking to thousands of businessmen, investors, entrepreneurs, young professionals, students and others, both in Israel and around the world. Assaf also works as a business development and marketing consultant to Israeli start-ups and others.
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