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a guide to jobsearching in Israel – part 2: sharpening skills and expanding horizons

By spending about on hour a day on cold searches and at least an hour or so on warm searches, you should be able to stay abreast of the job market.  Your extra time will be spent talking to people, researching the companies for your warm search, and watching tons of TV.  I also recommend working on some skills to help you in your job.

While I was looking for my job I noticed that many places wanted a worker with a command of Microsoft Word and Excel.  I already knew Word very well, so I went through on Excel tutorial a day from Microsoft’s site so that I could write honestly on my resume, that my Excel skills were excellent.  I did not learn every formula in Excel, but I learned the basics, pivot reports, and how to look for the formulas online when I am missing one.

Additionally, I searched online for free course on game theory.  As any college student knows, you can learn pretty much the entire course from the course material from the lecturer’s slides.  Take any college subject and google it – you’ll soon find that most lecturers from America’s top Universities offer their notes and slides online for free.

When I finally did find a job, my background in Excel and game theory helped me tremendously.  My ability to analyze numbers and explain difficult financial concepts have been extremely valuable and hopefully, will help me to advance in the workplace.

Make a list of computer programs and courses that can help you in your field.  If you see that nothing is available in your field, make a list of computer programs and courses that can help you in an adjacent field.  When I started looking for work, I originally looked for something in marketing analysis.  When I saw that most marketing jobs were really just sales positions, I switched and decided to go for financial analysis.  It really isn’t such a difference and the experience opened my eyes to an interesting field that I did not originally appreciate.  Whatever my future will be, the skills I am learning from my job now (dealing with Israeli banks and payment systems, department analysis, building a budget) are likely to help me tremendously whether I stick with finance or go back to marketing in the future.

a guide to jobsearching in Israel – part 1: cold and warm

If you’re looking for a job, you’ve probably heard the term “acharei hachagim” about a million times already.  Well, the time has finally come.  My next few posts will be regarding job searching in Israel.

For part one, I would like to present a two pronged job search strategy.

The Cold Search – These are the jobs you look for en masse.  When you search places like jobnet and jobmaster, you’re bound to find hundreds of jobs that match your needs.  Unfortunately, many of these jobs are (1) not directly advertised from the company looking to hire; rather, from a placement agency, (2) repeats of the same position posted by several recruitment agencies (3) not current.  On the other hand, there is the occasional diamond in the raft, so it worth spending up to an hour a day of you jobsearch time responding to these (try to respond to at least 100 jobs in that hour – it is easier than you think).  These should be responded to quickly, no cover letter, nothing personal.  Because less than 1% of these places will even contact you, spending too much time e-mailing these jobs is a bad return on investment (your time).

The Warm Search – At the same time, you need to network yourself into finding people who can help you find a job.  The first thing to do is to think what industry you want to work in – let’s say marketing. Then think which companies have big marketing departments in Israel – consider Proctor and Gamble, Osem and A.C. Nielsen.  You’re next step is to contact someone in the company who can give you an in.  Ask a friend if they know anyone, ask your school for an alumni directory, or just search for someone who work in the company via LinkedIn.  Contact people via LinkedIn sending a message along the following lines:

Hi.

My name is JOB SEEKER’S NAME. I am an American Oleh looking for a job in Israel. I am trying to get an entry level position in COMPANY NAME and by a LinkedIn search found that you work there. Would you be willing to talk on the phone? If not, could you give me some advice by e-mail? Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

JOB SEEKER’S NAME

JOB SEEKER’S EMAIL ADDRESS

JOB SEEKER’S PHONE NUMBERS

Note: in order to contact someone on LinkedIn, you have to either be connected or members of a shared group.  That being said, join groups associated with Israel, where your contacts will likely be members.

When I did this, over half the people I contacted got back to me, some by e-mail, some by phone.  I nicely asked these kind people for their help.  I asked them how they got started, how I can get started and if they can do anything to help me.  People are nice and in Israel we’re all family, so many people are willing to help.

Aim to build your warm network by at least 3 people a week.  Make an excel chart and write down your last contact and where you are holding with ever contact.  Every three weeks, subtly drop an e-mail and see what’s going on, if there are any new entry level positions in the company and if your contact can assist you in any way.

In the mean time, get ready by preparing your resume.  I have made a point of saying thousands of times that your resume isn’t that big of a deal, but it should (1) be written nicely, (2) be in Hebrew as well as English (ask a friend in your neighborhood to sit down with you and translate it) and (3) should have a few variations (ie one for marketing, one for finance etc.) so that you’ll be able to send out the correct resume quickly when running the cold job search.

At the core of your job search is balancing between the cold and warm job search.  In my next post, I’ll focus on some other practical uses of time jobsearching and how it can help.

Best of luck

making extra money

So you’ve cut back.  You’ve learned to live on less and adjust as much as you can.  Listening to any more money saving tips sounds like finding another teaspoon to help you bail out a sinking ship.  So now the big question: what’s next?  Where is this extra money going to come from?  How can you make that needed amount that will allow you to live comfortably within your means?  Here are some solutions.

#1 – Offer your services part time – Offer your services online for some extra cash.  As the economy changes, many employers prefer to outsource jobs as a means to cut back.  They pay more per hour, but less overall (due to less hours.)  Check out Janglo or some other more community sites for opportunities.  Also, sites like jobshuk.com try to connect employers with outsourced employees in Israel (I have not used jobshook yet, although I am registered.  I will try to update how it has been going once I use it a bit more).

#2 – Offer other services part time – So you realized no one need a marketing analyst after 5 PM, now what?  Well, offer something that people are demanding.  Offer to tutor English in your local neighborhood.  Offer to babysit.  Ask anyone if they need help cleaning a couple of hours a week.  Hang up some posters in the area and see what you can get.  There is no shame in doing something extra, even if you think it is beneath you “superior” education.  The only shame is in living beyond your means when you can do something about it.

#3 – Get rid of stuff you don’t need – Go through those extra books, clothes, toys and see what you can get rid of.  Try having a yard sale or selling items through ebay.  While this will not get you tons of money in the long run, it will buy you some time and help you keep things organized.

#4 – Maintain windfalls responsibly – This is probably one of the easiest things you can do with little to no extra work.  When you receive extra money – for birthdays, holidays, special occasions etc – it is important to put the money aside and use it like other income.  I am not saying not to live a little extra, but consider putting aside 50% of “extra money” you get and only spending the remainder.  Remember, emergencies do happen, and those are windfalls of expenses, so balance both kinds of windfalls and be prepared.

#5 – Look into your spouse working part time (if he or she isn’t working already) – Many times it makes sense to have only one sole supporter of the house; someone has to stay home to take care of the kids (childcare is crazy expensive), one spouse is being supported so that he can learn etc.  But just because it does not seem viable for one person to work full time, a part time job may fit quite nicely.  Even a half a job or quarter of a job can be a tremendous unburdening of the costs that are incurred by a household.  Living on one and a quarter salaries may not be as great as living on two, but it is better then living on one.

If you have any other ideas, please include them in the comments below.  Thanks.

the truth about your resume

The toughest thing I did in Israel ever was to find a stable job.  Much of my time, effort, money and sanity was spent on finding a job.  I wasted countless hours with headhunters, recruiters, and job search groups with simulations and resume writing tips.  And the reason that the headhunters and HR people didn’t help significantly was quite simple in hindsight.  The assumption of these people is that you are not attractive enough for the job market, or else that you need to change something to suit it.  For them it was a simple equation: me + a bit of designing by them  = job.

What frustrated me most was their stressing my resume.  My resume looked nice and was designed with the help of an HR “expert” from day one.  Every time I met another HR “expert” he or she would always began with “oh no this is horrible, you need to do this this, this, this, and that.”  Each one was just saying that the HR person before him or her was an idiot and THIS new way will make it all better.  But the truth is that your resume is not that important.  It should be clear, simple, and even in Hebrew, but really, no one cares about your resume.  Unless it looked like a monkey smeared it on a wall not harm you, but it certainly won’t help you.

There are only two things that can make you more stand out significantly for a job during a recession:  protexia and willingness to work for less.

Protexia:  This means that you know someone in the place you are applying to work at and have some sort of “in.”  According to one HR “expert” I met, 85% of job in Israel are found through some sort of protexia.  While the number seems a bit exaggerated, it does have a strong feeling of truth.  When I researched my thesis in business school (it was on Israeli management), one theme that came up over and over again was how influential protexia is.  Talk to people at shul, meet people online, walk door to door and introduce yourself to businesses (I actually did this in Petah Tikvah.)  The point is meet people and talk with them.  Just looking online will not be enough.  If you’re looking for some ideas, here is an article I wrote for another blog about how I expanded my network during my job search and ended up finding a job.

Work for less:  It is the employers’ market and they are choosing the cheapest option in order to keep costs down.  Most employers don’t give a hoot if you can offer more than what the job needs; paying for an *extra* is nice, but unnecessary.  Do not keep a high standard of pay.  The time that you will be wasting by looking (if you can indeed get a job at all) is more than offset by the extra time you’re working at the lower paying job.  Try to get a stable job, even if is in a lower paying environment.

Consider various types of payments your job can offer you.  Sometimes a job cannot pay more, but will be flexible with time and vacations.  There is no company car, but maybe it will be in walking distance.  Remember to package the entire job and look at how much it is worth to you.

I know the job search in tough.  It took me months and no quick fix could make it happen.  But by sticking in there and following some practical advice you could save yourself some wasted time and sanity.