Sunday, October 28, 2012

Translating Your CV from English into Hebrew

There are multiple issues in moving from English (or some other language) into Hebrew with your CV in preparation for your Israeli job search.

The initial thing to consider is whether this is even necessary for you to do. There are a variety of opinions.

One is that if you won’t be able to understand your own CV in Hebrew, then there is no reason for you to have such a version, and it is even misleading in giving the impression that your level of Hebrew is higher than it actually is. Others say that you should send your CV in the language that the employer used to advertise the job itself, independent of your own level of Hebrew. I can attest to the fact that in my personal experience of receiving thousands of CVs in Israel, the majority are submitted in Hebrew, with the exception of sales/marketing and technical jobs, where English CVs are a more common occurrence than in other professions.

If you think back to the objective when sending your CV, it is to move forward in the recruitment process. You have 10-20 seconds to make a positive impression. Since you don’t know what the level of English the person(s) reading your CV will have, it is dangerous to send your CV in English, even if the job requires a high level of English. Keep in mind that multiple people may be reviewing your CV, and the first can be a person simply doing filtering on keywords and/or past job titles. Again, since in most cases you can’t know who will read your CV and what their comfort level is in Hebrew and/or English, a safe approach is to send your CV in both languages, and let the reader decide which is preferable for them. The CVs can be sent in two separate files with names that make the contents obvious, or put together into one suitably-named file.

If you do decide to create a Hebrew language CV, then you need to confirm that your CV is designed according to Israeli conventions, meaning among other things, short and targeted. Of course, any English CV that you use in Israel should also conform to the Israeli standard.

The Hebrew output needs to be both grammatically correct as well as using the accurate professional/technical terms. The second requirement is as important as the first. If the translator is not familiar with the current sector-specific words for your employment objective, then the result will generally be a document that gives a clear indication that you don’t know the subject matter adequately, putting yourself immediately at a grave disadvantage.

Certainly for either one of these goals, using an automatic translating service (eg. Google Translate…) is out of the question – there is no chance to generate a suitable document.

The translator must be at a minimum mother tongue level Hebrew with relevant knowledge of sector, in order to ensure the profession-appropriate terms are used. At the same time, if you need assistance massaging the non-Israel-style English CV into an Israel-style Hebrew CV, then the translator must be knowledgeable in this area as well. Sometimes this might even require getting assistance from two separate people, one knowledgeable about Israeli-style CVs and another with the Hebrew skills to perform the translation.

Whether the person is paid or not is dependent upon the cheapest and most reliable access you have to someone that meets the above criteria. Your CV is generally your first impression-maker to the employer – make sure you consider all of the implications of your language decision.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Ron!, I read your article and have a question...how to keep short and focused my CV...it is almost imposible to start I have three degrees, have worked in a number of places and that alone will fill up at least three pages, not to mention consulting activities, teaching, publications and the like....Of course my hebrew level is still really basic so I would not dream of preparing my CV in hebrew...any thoughts? Best regards. Miriam

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    Replies
    1. Hi Miriam,
      Thanks for commenting. You are not obligated to include everything in your educational/employment history in your CV, only that which is relevant to the job that you are applying for.
      If you would like to continue this conversation, you are welcome to write to me at ron@israemploy.net.
      Regards,
      Ron

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