A man was making his weekly check with the unemployment office. “I think we have a job for you this week,” the manager said. “There is an opening at the Eagle Laundry. Would you like to apply for it?” “I need a job real bad,” the man said, “but I don't think they would hire me. I've never washed an eagle.”
Perception vs. Reality
The above is only a joke, but perhaps it reflects the reason why there is a perception that Israeli companies don't like to hire people still outside the country? Mind you, would they have taken that person if he was inside the country? Probably not, but, with a bit of luck, this would have come out in the interview.
I work in the Information Technology (IT) department of the largest bank in Africa. Our family has taken the decision to move to Israel and one of the questions asked to me most often is “where are you going to work?” I can't answer that as ‘everyone' I speak to in Israel tells me that it is a waste of time even applying for a job when you are not in Israel. I thought that they were not correct, so I started contacting potential employees.
So Close Yet So Far
The closest I got to what I felt was meaningful were two successive emails. The position offered was in Israel but I got the impression that the contact was based in America. He asked for my resume as I had a ‘glove fit' for the job. He then emailed me back and said “are you based in Israel?” I tried to work out how to say ‘yes' when the answer was clearly ‘no', given that the address in the resume was not in Israel and neither my current employer nor any of my previous ones were remotely near Israel. Not even in the same hemisphere, let alone the same continent. I thought of some philosophical answers like “can one ever be truly away from Israel?” or “Not right now but offer me a job and I can get on a plane”.
I then remembered an old story and decided to rather be straight:
Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Person asked a young Engineer fresh out of MIT, “And what starting salary were you looking for?” The Engineer said, “In the neighborhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.” The interviewer said, “Well, what would you say to a package of 5 weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, a company matching retirement fund for 50% of your salary, and a company car leased every 2 years- say, a red Corvette?”
The Engineer sat up straight and said, “Wow! Are you kidding?” And the interviewer replied, “Yeah, but you started it.”
Don't Worry Be Happy
I wondered if it was even worthwhile doing any research before getting to Israel. I phoned the head of a recruitment organization and she was helpful.
She said “send your resume”.
I replied that I had done so, four months before, and had not had any response.
She implied that I could not have done so because they always respond. She suggested I re-send, which I did.
I phoned again and she said my resume was fine and they would put it on file until, wait for it, I get to Israel. She said I should not worry about getting a job. The economy is fine and anyway, as a new oleh, you get a couple of months of pocket money. She also said that usually your first job does not work out, so you need to be prepared to keep looking for jobs even when you are in Israel and employed.
Out of Africa
A friend of mine is a dentist who gets bored sitting in Africa. He therefore contacts an agency in England and within no time gets a temporary position. He has been doing that for a few years. He has never met the agency and only meets his future employer when he arrives at the job. No questions like “are you in England” or “are you really serious about coming to work here?”. They don't seem to mind that he is only trying to find a temporary position or that he may accept the job and just not pitch. I suppose it is because he is a dentist and that is different to the IT industry.
In fact another dentist friend of mine got a call from a friend in Jerusalem about ten years ago. He said to her “Bev, we have a job for you. If you get here within two months you can take it. If you don't, then I don't know if I can ever help you again”.
Bev had a slightly unusual domestic set up. Her husband, Martin, spent his time getting contracts in the Middle East to deliver yachts. He therefore disappeared for up to ten weeks sunbathing while she kept the home fires burning. I once said to him on his return “tough life!”, to which he replied “yes, but someone has to do it”.
Fortunately at the time Martin was at home so she told him about the offer. He replied that it was ridiculous, risky and foolhardy. How could they leave the comfort of home life with a stable income and go over to a new country with hardly any notice? She said to him that she was a dentist and a job is a job is a job, so what was the problem?
They decided to take the plunge. Or maybe she decided to take the plunge while he was plunging overboard into the Mediterranean for a leisurely dip before dinner on the yacht?
They had three children under the age of ten with one on the way. I spoke to them recently and they conceded that it probably was not a good decision, but things had worked out well so they were pleased with the move. The older children had battled for a bit and they had thought of coming back. They could not, however, as she had a job in Israel so what was the point of leaving?
But Should You Even Try?
On the subject of hiring someone from a different country, I am definitely sympathetic as there can be numerous challenges, one of them being different cultures. What if a person comes from somewhere where he tells numerous one liners and his work colleagues thinks he is really funny? Something like the following: A ragged piece of string went into a pub and asked for a drink. “Are you over 18?” asked the barman. “No,” replied the string, “I'm a frayed knot.”
I therefore decided to sit back and do nothing about a job until we get to Israel, but then I got an email from a colleague of mine. He does the same job as I and yet he has managed to set himself up with a new job long before he even decided to leave. How did he do it? He said he had put his resume on the Internet and was contacted by a recruitment agency that was looking to fill an international position. His resume was submitted and followed up with a Business Class flight and a three-day stay at the prospective employer all at their expense.
And the rest is history. Oh yes, I forgot to add that the new job is in Kuwait.
About the author
Philip is based in South Africa while contemplating a job search in Israel.
This article is the third entry in the JobMob Guest Blogging Contest.