Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Can a Non-Hi-Tech Person Find Work in Israel?

With all of the glamour of the Israeli technological industries in the media, and acronym-filled hi-tech jobs advertised everywhere, it can be daunting to seek work outside of this sector.

The hi-tech industry is one of the bright spots of the Israeli economy in terms of international prestige, exports, and high paying jobs. From a macro-economic perspective though, less than 100,000 people work in hi-tech jobs in Israel. Although the sector itself provides a disproportionate amount of revenues to the country, and many non-technology people provide services to these companies, at the end of the day, this sector does not directly employ a large percentage of the Israeli workforce.

And let’s face it, not everyone is cut out to work in this industry – most roles require strong technical aptitude and the ability to work long hours.

Yet the impression that many Israeli job seekers have is that placement companies, networking sites such as LinkedIn and online job boards/newspapers have a preponderance of hi-tech positions, and they feel left out. In truth, this feeling is not totally misplaced. It is generally correct that only well-funded companies with recruitment budgets tend to use placement agencies. For the same reason, oftentimes the companies most likely to pay money to advertise on Internet sites or in newspapers are those that have high-end or specialized jobs to fill and can justify the publicity expense; for more details see: And as anyone that has spent some time on LinkedIn can attest to, and notwithstanding all of the excellent value that it provides, the membership is technology-heavy. Certainly finance, biotech/pharmaceutical/medical and other industries sometimes do fall into the same high skill/salary category as technology jobs, yet you are much less likely to find jobs in the education, non-profit, tourism sector using these agencies/services – it’s not that these types of opportunities are non-existent, only that they usually require the job seeker to use supplementary resources to identify a good quantity of availabilities.

So, what is a non-engineer/programmer supposed to do? First, we need to remember that the majority of all jobs (more than two-thirds) are never publicly advertised (see; networking is the best method for everyone, hi-tech and low-tech, to get access to such positions. However, don’t lose heart if placement companies, networking websites, and large newspapers don’t concentrate on the jobs most of interest to you. Non-hi-tech people simply have to work harder to find sources of relevance to them. For instance, there are industry specific sites that do focus on non-hi-tech, for instance Shatil for non-profits and ETNI for English teachers – each have job listings. Online job boards that don’t require employers to pay, such as my company’s site Israemploy, as well as local newspapers, are more likely to have a wider range of non-technology positions. Finally, even though LinkedIn members are heavily concentrated in technology/sales/finance/IT positions, there are so many people registered (more than 60 million worldwide) on this system that even if 10-20% of the members are non-high-tech, that is still a huge number of people you can network with in a variety of other industries. You can search in the LinkedIn Groups directory to find groups specific to your industry, and even in the large general purpose groups, such as Job Networking in Israel, there are many hundreds of people from a wide range of low-tech industries that are just waiting to be found and contacted.

Maybe then you can look at your non-technology orientation as a blessing in disguise. Hi-tech people oftentimes forget the two-thirds networking rule, focusing on internet sites and placement companies only, disregarding the value of engaging with similar-minded professionals. Those in the non-technology fields intuitively know that without concentrated efforts to reach out to others and identify industry specific groups, their search will be exceedingly difficult.

And please remember, for those of you that don’t know the difference between JAVA and a router, try to sympathize with people slaving away in hi-tech, and enjoy the finer things in life.

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