A new world crisis began with the COVID-19 pandemic. In Israel, lockdown and social detachment have been imposed since mid-March, generating the highest unemployment rate in the country. From 3.9% of the active population (considered very low) to 24.1%, adding up to over 1 million unemployed Israelis. Obviously, the vast majority of hiring processes were suspended.
Those who managed to keep their jobs had to continue working from home and companies had to adapt quickly. All communications were forced to migrate to the virtual environment. Lectures and networking meetings (one of the most efficient ways to find jobs in Israel) followed the new trend. Even the elderly (the main risk group for this lethal virus), less accustomed to technology and the virtual world, also had to adapt to the new “normal”, because, without it, many would probably die of loneliness.
For many, this moment was one of total despair! If it was already difficult to compete with Israelis, Anglos and qualified professionals from all over the world when the unemployment rates were low, imagine now!
Every adversity has a positive side
Unemployed since mid-January 2020, I am included in the group of those who were initially concerned about the huge spike in unemployment rates in Israel. But I remained calm and began to visualize a huge opportunity: to use this free time productively. I had several plans that I could never put into practice, because “I had no time”. I took advantage of this moment to do so.
While living in Brazil, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Bernardinho, the world’s most successful volleyball coach. He repeated several times that, even in the moments of glory of the Brazilian team or the team he coached, he was always CONCERNED. This allowed him to never stay in his comfort zone, regardless of the result. Bernardinho talks a lot about two main values for people who want to be successful: MOTIVATION and RESILIENCE.
Like any human being, I have had several ups and downs throughout my professional career. But, being a curious person, I have never stopped studying, and I started to learn about community management and its story a while before the COVID-19 pandemic. But I’m not just talking about formal studies. I mean reading books, articles and more recently podcasts. But that’s a whole new topic…
Understanding the main cultural differences between Brazil and Israel
It is known that the Brazilian aliyah began to grow exponentially from 2015 (I made aliyah in September of that same year). The main reasons for this comprise lack of security, high level of unemployment and the difficulty of seeing the end of this vicious circle of decline in the Brazilian quality of life. There is also Zionism, but let’s be honest (in “Israeli”: tachles, dugri)? Today, this is not the main reason for the Brazilian post 2015 aliyah trend.
Generally speaking, Brazilians are a very competitive people (examples: Rio vs SP, Brazil vs Argentina, Brazil vs Portugal) and tend to keep information in order to “not give gold to the enemy”. On the other hand, Israelis do not hold anything back and everyone who has had contact with Israelis has already been asked: “How much do you pay for rent?” or “How much do you earn?”. For Brazilians, this is almost an insult! For Israeli, this is curiosity, mixed with the fear of being a “freier” (loser, which is also a competition, but has a different meaning from the Brazilian one… try to understand more about the subject on the internet, or read post #02 on Israeli culture that I wrote on my blog).
Because I have lived in Israel for almost 5 years and am married to an Israeli, I consider that I’m assimilated into Israeli society. I learned Hebrew with a lot of effort and also out of necessity, because, although most of my Israeli family and friends speak English fluently, in their leisure time they want to speak their language. Isn’t it like that with us too? When we are among Brazilians, we want to speak Portuguese, our mother tongue. For me, the most important thing about learning Hebrew is the fact that I also learn the local culture (that’s why I’ve mentioned several transliterated terms from Hebrew).The most beautiful thing about Israeli culture, in my opinion, is the willingness to help each other. Do you know why the Israeli nickname is sabra? Sabra is the name given to the fruit of a type of cactus that exists in Israel, because it is hard on the outside, soft on the inside. There are several reasons why the Israelis are like that. Rare are those who have never received an invitation from a “stranger” to have a “Shabat dinner” or “Chag dinner” at his home (whether he is a native Israeli or an oleh chadash already adapted to the Israeli culture).
Solidarity as a way to build a good personal reputation
“Bitten” by Israeli solidarity, I began sharing my research on the Israeli job market with people close to me. Then I began writing a blog, in English, in The Times of Israel, the largest online media about Israel and Judaism in the world! All this without ever having written a blog before in my life! For anyone who wants to know a little more about this story and how I used my “chutzpá” (another term that I suggest you search for – I have a blog post just about it! In addition to several videos on the internet, which I quote in my text), I am available to share my experience.
The posts on this platform, along with my personal branding work (personal branding is a recent trend in the business world, for those who don’t know) in my spare time, gave me visibility among olim chadashim (new immigrants in Israel), not only Brazilians. Several people started looking for me asking for advice on the job market in Israel. Whenever I can, I have coffee or lunch with people who I’ve never met before.
You might be asking yourself, “What does Carol get out of this?” I am learning, developing and building a positive reputation! And also meeting a lot of new people, who have a lot to add to my own professional growth in Israel, whether they’re employed or not! I need to mention my friend Hayim Makabee, who explained the importance of managing his reputation in one of the talks by the Kadima Brasil group (I will explain about this group in the next session). He used examples from several Brazilians who have been standing out in Israel for cultivating a good reputation!
Citing another face-to-face lecture, before COVID-19, offered by the “Olim Success Stories” group, led by my friend Neriyah Oren, I heard Hillel Fuld (an American guy, who made aliyah many years ago and has a very strong reputation in the Israeli high-tech market) saying that, before selling any product or service, we need to “delight” our customers. That means being a bit of a “freier” (remember I mentioned the term before?). Monetization of this service will come naturally.
Building a new community of Brazilian professionals living in Israel
An unmet demand well known by Brazilians living in Israel was the construction of a new community of Brazilian professionals. Several unsuccessful attempts were made, such as the creation of groups of Brazilian professionals in Israel on both LinkedIn and Facebook. I am a part of this, as an administrator, in both.
With the lockdown and freezing of the hiring processes due to COVID-19, I had the opportunity to talk to several people who said they had a lot of free time, without knowing what to do. It was then that I decided to get my hands dirty, lose the fear of being on camera (I’m not afraid to speak in public, but I don’t like being filmed), and invite all my “followers” to an online session (more known as a “live”). Even keeping the main topic a secret, we had 88 people registered! Unfortunately, the number of people who attended the live was very low, only 30 people (a 34% attendance rate).
But as I am Brazilian and I never give up, I continued to believe in this repressed demand and began to invite other Brazilians who stand out for applying a strategy similar to mine: using solidarity as a way to build a good reputation. I invited:
- Neriyah and Hayim (both cited previously)
- Claudia Ajbeszyc and Betina Nudelman-Tal, who also wrote an excellent text on the subject of the labor market in issue number 14, February 2020, of the same magazine: Revista Bras.IL – for the videos, click here and here, about LinkedIn
- Luciana Coin, a Brazilian recruiter working in Israel, who created an Instagram page called “HR, help me” – for the video, click here, about the recruitment process in Israel
- Dikla Herman Cohen, an Israeli lawyer, who speaks Portuguese fluently and has already made some videos in Portuguese sharing some tips on her Facebook page – for the video, click here, she shared some good practices that it’s important to know (knowledge is power!)
- And the list is growing every 15 days…
Today, we have more than 250 qualified professionals who are part of this group, with an average show-up rate of 62%, an incredible result! And this is not counting the views of the recordings on my YouTube channel, which total 560 views from between April 11th and May 23rd.
These professionals have already understood the importance of not only building a good CV and LinkedIn, developing networking and maintaining their reputation and knowing their rights and duties in the Israeli job market. The name Kadima Brasil was created by the group through received suggestions and voting for the best name, according to those involved in the project.
Over time, I have received several constructive feedbacks and I have adjusted and improved all processes, such as registration, the choice of guests, the format of the live, a satisfaction survey, among others. We also formed a support group, which are people willing to help in the operational management of the group. Everyone who is participating in this work does it voluntarily, in their spare time.
The community’s objectives are:
- Build and strengthen the community of Brazilian professionals living in Israel
- Create and consolidate a network of professional relationships (networking)
- Share tips and shortcuts in the Israeli job market, which many of us who arrived in Israel first had to find out for ourselves!
Quoting Betina and Claudia, in their text in Revista Bras.IL, “the most important thing here is focus and not to give up. Remember that you are starting life over, so things take time to happen.”
When writing your life story … Don’t let anyone hold the pen. – unknown author
So, roll up your sleeves and come and build your successful professional future with Kadima Brasil (for Portuguese speakers only, sorry)!
Originally posted at “Revista Bras.IL“, in Portuguese.