I attended the Jerusalem job fair last Thursday, February 11, 2010, organized by Hadassah’s Merkaz Hamagshimim, and co-sponsored by Israemploy among others. A Jerusalem Post article about the fair can be found here: http://www.jpost.com/LocalIsrael/InJerusalem/Article.aspx?id=168488. Kudos to Shira Barzily for putting together this successful event.
The good news is that many hundreds of people benefited from having access to the companies that were present and participating in the targeted employment lectures. Having the chance to speak with many employers in one location that are actually seeking workers is a rare opportunity. While it is true that a certain percentage of companies at these events are always the same, and that a number of placement agencies are regularly present, there were also some employers in attendance specifically because they had many immediate job openings that they need to fill, so all job seekers should take heart from the fact that there are positions available.
In fact, I think this is a critical point for all those looking for work to keep in mind. People become too isolated during their job search. Either self-imposed or coincidently, searching for work oftentimes is a task that separates us from others. Besides the job search reason: that networking with people is the absolute best way to find work; lack of human interaction is simply not good for the individual psyche. If you are not optimistic/motivated when looking for work, including while sending applications and speaking with prospective employers, your mood comes across loud and clear, creating a cycle that is difficult to rise above, where your lack of enthusiasm negatively impacts your job search leading to increased negativity.
So, returning to the recent job fair, attending such an event is a great way to energize yourself, speaking to companies with real job opportunities and talking with other individuals that are also looking for work. I believe that people leave such evenings with strength to re-invigorate your search.
However, this needs to carry over into actions. According to the US Department of Labor, on average a job seeker spends 18 minutes a day looking for work. That is simply unbelievable to me. I know that Jews value the number 18, the numerical (gematria) equivalent of the Hebrew word for life: Chai, and use multiples of this number for good luck. However, the optimum multiple for the job search is a number much greater than one! The old saying goes that searching for work is a full-time job – yet certainly it is true that the more time you devote to the search, the better the results will be. Of course, at the same time we need to always remember that this time has to be invested effectively, including some not insignificant component of networking, not only looking at Internet job sites, since readers of this blog know well that two-thirds of all jobs are never published publicly.
I had a table at the fair, representing Israemploy. My purpose there was to offer advice to job seekers, and I spoke to a large number of people. As can be expected in such an open event, there was a wide range of jobs seekers in terms of work being sought, length of time in Israel and age. Yet, it is still possible to categorize some of the queries:
- CV (resume) help – I realize that even with all of the articles that we and others have written about Israeli-style CVs, there is only so much you can get from a generic document, and nothing replaces personalized assistance. It is impossible to provide such feedback in the very short amount of time that is available for each person at a job fair, but I am convinced that after you have invested the time to create your CV(s), it is very important to have people whose opinion you value go over it carefully and provide feedback. This is also true for the Hebrew version of your CV. For many immigrants, the process for creating a Hebrew version of their CV is to first build the English (or some other language) version, then get it translated into Hebrew. The problem can be that since the job seeker themselves may not be at a high enough level of Hebrew to understand the intricacies and subtle meanings, they are therefore totally dependent upon the skills of the translator to provide a faithful version, both in terms of objective and content. We have all heard the phrase Lost in Translation, where the meaning of the original text is changed so much that the main message itself is lost, and this is a danger with CVs as well. In addition, I know of many cases where the translated Hebrew version was not at a high enough level because the words used were not the appropriate ones in the particular profession being targeted, thus giving the wrong impression to the prospective employer. The solution is to find Israelis in your sector of interest, and at a minimum ask them for a kind of sanity-test review, making sure that the document flows well and communicates your message successfully.
- What type of job to target – This is an example of a very difficult (impossible) subject to cover in a job fair short period of time. I will devote an upcoming article to this subject of identifying transferable skills and applying them to professions.
- How to get information about a specific profession in Israel – No matter what the profession is, the answer to this question is invariably the same. I personally may not know the answer, but I certainly know who does, and that is those that are already working in the profession in Israel. Your challenge as a job seeker is to identify such people and make contact!
Finally, I would like to offer an apology to those that waited a long time to speak with me, but were not able to because time simply ran out and I had to give my lecture. I truly believe that such opportunities to talk with an employment advisor are of critical importance to job seekers, and open job fairs are not always the most conducive forum for such conversations, due to lack of time and noise/distractions. As a small organization, Israemploy does not have the resources alone, neither the building (we are a virtual organization) nor human resources to devote to offer such consultations. Yet it is clear to me that this is a large missing component in the arsenal of those seeking work in Israel, especially for immigrants that don’t often have a large built-in group of people to turn to, and we will continue to support such efforts to broaden the networking scope of resources for the job seekers amongst us.