In Part 1 of this 2-part interview, Chaim Fox-Emmett spoke about his motivations for founding Israemploy, the frustrations they are trying to address, and he also answered questions about the organization and its cast of volunteers around the world. This is Part 2 of the JobMob interview.
Let's talk about the website. What kinds of jobs are people seeking there?
Chaim Fox-Emmett: Everything. Every field, every background, every education. Not all our people are highly-qualified. All you need is an Internet connection. Not only hitech guys need help, everyone needs help.
Are Israemploy's visitors all unemployed?
Chaim Fox-Emmett: I would say it's close to 50-50. Many people are unhappy with their job, many people just want to know what's out there or want to improve what they've got.
Which part of Israemploy.net do people find most useful for their job search?
Chaim Fox-Emmett: The listings. About 70% of our people have opted to receive a daily digest and a recurring message is that people just enjoy receiving the mails. People want job details – they want to know what's out there and is it suitable for them. The other parts of the site get an equal number of hits. An average visit is 10 pageviews. The interesting thing is that we haven't peaked. There are still 300-400 new registrations per month and we know from talking to people in the street that many, many people haven't even heard of us. It's all word of mouth. This is a resource which can be trusted and is useful. We're a charity and we see ourselves as driven by the job seekers' needs – which is a unique way of approaching it – and we rely on the job seekers for our support. We say to them ‘look, this is your community. If you want it, support it. If you don't want it, fine'.
How do job seekers support Israemploy?
Chaim Fox-Emmett: Israemploy is a membership amuta, the charity belongs to its members. We have a payment plan just like if you were a member of your local synagogue. We say to people – become a member of our community, support our community, the net result is that we'll become a stronger community – which means more information going into the system – and enjoy the benefit of receiving all the information in real-time. If you don't want to become a member, we're not going to penalize you to the point where you're excluded, but you'll get the information and it will be 7 days out of date. We consider that extremely fair. And people are taking up the offer, so that we've reached the point of self-sustainability and we're able now to look at improvements.
What kind of improvements are coming in Israemploy's future?
Chaim Fox-Emmett: We've been trying to get into the mind of the job seeker and say ‘ok, what is it that you need, what is it that you want?' We are planning to have trade-specific user forums in English, with volunteer experts within the forum who'll contribute, giving answers to general queries and who'll stimulate discussion as well. We want to tie things together a little better, but we're not just talking about revamping, there's also a whole new dimension coming, with a tremendous wow factor. As they say, ‘watch this space'.
Are you growing enough that you will continue to be self-sustaining?
Chaim Fox-Emmett: In theory, yes. When we see the (membership) renewals, that will give us a better indication. I'm more focussed though on some other ideas which will help us with sustainability in order to take what we've got and apply it in different environments. In other words, to look for partnerships where we can work together with other bodies providing this service.
Israemploy.net just celebrated its first birthday. What were some of the obstacles along the way?
Chaim Fox-Emmett: All sorts of issues came up that you couldn't have predicted. The most challenging thing was just getting there and deciding if it was good enough to launch. That said, we had a very large foundation to start with. We already had a database of names and a database of jobs. In many ways, the biggest challenge now is developing what we've got while still maintaining it. We don't keep stuff longer than 6-7 weeks to make sure it's all fresh and we still have over 3000 listings in English, half of which are translated from Hebrew. Companies sending stuff to us all the time, they send it to us in Hebrew and the only criteria we ask for is that English or French or Spanish is a key factor in the job, because our market is olim. There are many (jobs) that don't require language skills per se but by virtue of their job definition do need English. For instance, many engineering jobs – you don't have to speak Hebrew for, but they're only advertised in Hebrew and if you don't speak English, you're not going to be able to do that job. That's not to say we don't have a large number of Israelis on the site, we do. The database is searchable in Hebrew as well and we have plans to extend the language diversity but it is without a doubt the largest database in English in Israel.
Looking ahead a year – what will it take to be satisfied with your achievements at the website's second birthday?
Chaim Fox-Emmett: I'd like the site to be running almost automatically so that we can focus on the truly marginalized groups, like single parents or the disabled, who I think are totally underrepresented and are marginalized more than probably any other group in this country. There are some organizations but nothing along the lines of Israemploy the way it works for the Anglo community. If I could make this time next year approaching something like that, I'd be very pleased. Again, it's a matter of resources, but first and foremost what we have at the moment has to tick like clockwork.
I'd like to thank Chaim Fox-Emmett for a candid and insightful conversation. Some of the interesting points I enjoyed were about the misunderstood need to learn Hebrew before moving to Israel and the peek inside the website itself.
What about you? Did you learn anything surprising? Was there any question that you wish we would have asked Chaim Fox-Emmett?