Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Immigrants – The Second Job

I have discussed in previous articles some of the issues facing new immigrants to Israel related to securing that first job. For more veteran immigrants, it is important to build on this subject and better understand the difference between the first job and the second (subsequent) jobs.

Although there are always exceptions, in general the most difficult job for an immigrant to get is their first position. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • Low level of Hebrew
  • Small initial network of professional contacts
  • No previous Israeli work experience
  • No local recommendations

For a full article on employment issues for new immigrants, see the article: http://jobsearchinisrael.blogspot.com/2009/12/new-immigrants-employment-issues.html. Some or all of these points can combine to make it complicated to get your first job. The last two issues may be less obvious, so a short explanation is in order. In many cases, employers have doubts about whether someone new to the country will fit smoothly into the Israeli work place. Whereas most new immigrants are rightly proud and excited about becoming citizens of Israel, employers don’t always treat this recent relocation as a positive. Having Israeli work experience, combined with job references that speak Hebrew, can go a long ways towards allaying employers’ concerns.

When a person moves to Israel, in many cases they have a professional objective, a specific job/industry/company/title/salary which they are targeting. I know some new immigrants fortunate enough to find the perfect first job, meeting the majority of their objectives. However, the more usual situation is that with the first job, a person is able to meet only a (small) portion of their goals. It might mean that a person finds a job at a company they really like, but don’t start with a great role/salary. Or possibly finding a suitable position but not in the correct sector.

What I have found is that often it takes one or more intermediate jobs before an immigrant gets to their employment objective, with each job along the way adding something to make you more attractive in the Israeli employment market. Take another look above at the bullet items. By definition, any role that allows you to address one or more of these points is improving your chances to find a better job next time.

So, for the first position(s), until you reach your goal, it is important to keep in mind that even if it is not the job of your dreams, if any given role is enabling you to attain skills and/or connections to upgrade your marketability, then it is of significant value to you. Flexibility and long-term vision is the key to success in the Israeli marketplace.

Once you have your first job in Israel, your employment prospects are much improved, immediately and for the future. Hopefully you will find yourself in an environment where you are forced to interact in Hebrew, thus helping you improve your language skills. Also, as a regular part of your job, you will almost certainly develop relationships with co-workers as well as employees in other companies that you come into contact with, helping your networking prospects for the future. You will start to learn how Israeli organizations operate, and how the work culture in Israel differs from what you might be used to before moving here. In any of these cases, you are in a much better position then when you were seeking your first job.

This all boils done to one short sentence:

You can’t get a second job without having a first job!

Sure it’s trite, lacking in imagination, and at an initial glance doesn’t have much meaning. Getting your first job in Israel is always a challenge, and the search process oftentimes leads to job offers that are not what you initially had in mind. However, if in order to reach your long terms plans a less than perfect job can help you, then you are well served by taking this into consideration before making a final decision.


  1. I call the first job "the aliyah experience". Often, the only goal of that job is to make money to live until you find your second job.

  2. You neglected to mention that many interviewers fail to show up for confirmed appointments, that too often someone unqualified to conduct the interview speaks to the candidate and that job descriptions often do not match the position. A maddening reality, but one that dominates the Israeli job-seeking market: unprofessional behavior.

    Yocheved Golani http://www.linkedin.com/in/yochevedgolaniink
    www.yochevedgolani.com and

  3. Interesting! I like your style!

  4. I have been unemployed for 11 months now and have gotten ONE call back on a resume I sent out in the last 5 months. I don't know what I'm doing wrong and am on the verge of just giving up!

  5. Olah Chadasha, if its any consolation, it took my husband 18 months to land his first job here.

  6. Toshav Huzer status, Its a problem not only for Olim Hadashim, but also for toshavim Hozrim who came back after 18 years abroad. iam here for 4 months and yet without a job. although i know hebrew and i worked for El Al in the past. i think that Israelies are missing good working materials. Ron do u have any thing to help toshavim hozrim????