By Al Goldberg
Finding the right job is one of the most important factors for a successful adjustment to Israel for young and middle aged individuals. Of course, there are those who arrive in Israel with a contract in hand and therefore have no need for a search. So the following principles for finding a job are for the majority of new olim who are not so lucky.
1. No-one wants to hire a Zionist
The worst attitude an oleh can have when being interviewed by a potential employer is a readiness to take any job because he or she just wants to live in Israel. An Israeli employer is looking for someone with the skills and abilities needed in his or her work setting.
So it is important to explain how you will make a contribution to a potential employer in a specific job. Don’t worry about an initial weakness in Hebrew. You have a mother tongue, and possibly other languages, that will be seen as an asset to many employers.
2. Don’t only look for a job that seems interesting to you.
Of course, you should have an interest in what you are doing. But interesting work is not enough. You want a job that offers a career, or the work experience that will help you move to another employer. You also want a job that will eventually pay well even if the starting wage is not great, and usually you are also looking for some type of job security.
3. Don’t look for a job in a specific location in Israel.
Many olim want to find a job in Jerusalem or in the hills of the Galilee. Unfortunately, there are not many good jobs in these locations. Employment in these regions is usually for those who have a very narrow occupational specialization that is in demand there. It is the center of the country where most jobs can be found.
4. Network, network, network and the strength of the weak connection
Like any other job market, most people find jobs through contacts. But few of us have the connection that will provide employment irrespective of the oleh’s background.
Networking in a job market usually involves the strength of a weak connection. The most important result of networking is to obtain information: about a possible job, about whom to contact, and about what to say that will impress them.
This type of information usually comes from someone with whom you have a weak tie (you hardly know them) but who is familiar with a particular job opportunity. This person can be anyone in an organization – not necessarily someone in a high position. It may be a secretary or even the janitor who can tell you about an opportunity. Or it can be an outsider who has contact with the organization.
So begin to talk with all those you already know in Israel and ask them for information about possible jobs. And when you take an interview, and if they tell you that they don’t have a job for you, ask the person to suggest some other place to look. If there is a suggestion, ask for a name of someone to contact there.
‘It is unbelievable how much help you can get in Israel from people that you just met. And if you are unsuccessful, return to these weak connections after a month and remind them that you are still looking.’
5. There are hot areas in the job market
There are job areas in Israel where there is a shortage of manpower and areas where there is a surplus. An oleh will have a very difficult time entering an area with a surplus because the native born will be favored for the few jobs available over the immigrant.
Right now in the Israeli job market, there are hot areas such as computer experts, marketing people, and for people dealing with the management of water resources. There are jobs for Math and English teaching and those in these specializations make extra money by also doing private teaching.
The way to find out about hot areas in your occupation is to speak to those established in the same occupation. They can tell you what type of specializations they are looking for.
Part Two will appear on July 25th
Al Goldberg is Associate Professor (retired) in Organizational Sociology at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management at the Technion. He made Aliyah in 1969 from the USA, and was shaliyach aliyah in Toronto from 1977-1979.