I have worked with many new immigrants that are seeking work, including those that arrive in Israel with a very low level of Hebrew and no family/friends. This is the most problematic of situations for someone looking for a job, with the realization that two-thirds or more of all jobs are never publicly advertised, and only through networking can a candidate get access to them. What could be a worse starting point than someone that doesn’t speak the local language and does not have an established group of people to begin professional conversations with?
Yet time-after-time I have witnessed new immigrants concentrate on networking and achieve wonderful results, establishing strong contacts with people in their sector and learning about opportunities that it is not possible to hear about any other way. On the other hand, I have see many cases where native-born Israelis and veteran immigrants are much less successful at networking, even with the huge advantage of having Hebrew skills and an excellent list of professionals and friends/family to begin the effort. How can this be explained?
I think that the answer is very straight-forward, and it comes down to the mindset of the job seeker. New immigrants intuitively know that the only way they can search for a job without a local history is to pro-actively build such a network of relevant people. Using immigrant organizations, LinkedIn, professional organizations and anything/anyone else that they find, new immigrants generally decide that the investment of their job-seeking resources in developing new contacts is the most critical task they can accomplish.
Israelis and more veteran immigrants sometimes forget the axiom that the majority of all jobs are not readily accessible. Sure, they will send emails to a few of the people they know, or even make some telephone calls, but it is less work/more comfortable to rely upon the Hebrew job boards and not invest in serious networking, including reaching out to new people that are in the same profession/industry. The results of this approach are oftentimes much less than hoped for, as the two-thirds rule doesn’t change, but the lack of regular effort to introduce yourself and begin professional-to-professional conversations will almost certainly lengthen the job search.
New immigrants have a lot to learn from veteran immigrants and native-born Israelis. Don’t forget though, veterans, there are some things that we can learn from newcomers as well.
Ron Machol - July 2010