It has been brought to my attention that I have neglected this blog lately, and so I am back. I’m going to start updating regularly again. It’s amazing how much my life has changed since I last posted, I have been here almost 4 months and it feels like I both just got here and have been here forever.
My trip to Boston was great, my brother killed it at his Bar Mitzvah, I was so proud. It was amazing seeing everyone again but sad having to say real goodbyes. After 3 back-and-forth trans-Atlantic trips in 3 months, I won’t be back anytime soon. By far the hardest part of this move, harder than dealing with ridiculous government bureaucracy, cohabitation with lizards, and lack of refrigeration, is not being part of everyone’s life in Boston anymore.
When I came back from Boston, I really dedicated myself to my job search. I sat at Cafeneto a few hours a day and sent out job application after job application. I started out focusing on Marketing jobs, but I soon realized I needed to adjust my expectations — with 5 years of Sales experience, I needed to look for a Sales job. Immediately after a trans-Atlantic move, while hemorrhaging money due to cost of living in Tel Aviv, is not the time to make a career change. Once I focused on Sales jobs I started getting interviews pretty quickly. I also learned from friends that there is a lot of horizontal movement within companies here, so once you have your foot in the door somewhere there is often flexibility to try out different roles in the company. So I accepted that my first job here would be phone sales in a call center. I’ve been watching Outsourced, and am quite possibly the only person that likes that show, but it makes call center work look pretty fun.
Job hunting here is different. I’ve read that in the US, 60% of jobs are found through networking, and that number must be even higher here. I got as many contacts from friends and from Nefesh b’ Nefesh as possible and contacted all of them. None of those leads panned out in my case, but it’s the way to do things here. A major difference between here and in the US is that people here really do want to help, they will actually ask their friends, get you additional contacts. So many random people offered to help me. I was in a spice store near Jerusalem and apparently the guy behind the counter worked in Hi-Tech in TLV, he told me if I didn’t find something quickly to bring him a resume. It’s such a different world.
I found my job on one of the many job boards here. For a couple of months I was monitoring the listings on Israemploy, JobNet, JobMaster, and the various LinkedIn Boards. I quickly noticed that there are several companies who seem to be fishing, posting the same job listings over and over again. Submitting my resume to those companies proved to be a waste of time. For any English speaker looking for work in the US, I recommend paying the small fee and subscribing to Israemploy, it really is a great resource.
I went to every interview I was offered, as much for practice as anything else, since I knew some of the positions were completely wrong for me. Life here is much more casual and that applies to the employment world as much as anything else. My first job interview felt so foreign to me. It was refreshing not to put on a suit to the interview, especially during the extended Indian summer we were having (have I mentioned how much I love the weather here?) It also just felt strange. The interviews themselves were also very laid back, with the interviewer wearing jeans, speaking very informally. I was warned that I might be asked overly personal questions but that never happened.
Perhaps my most memorable interviews were at a private ulpan and at a moving company. At the ulpan, despite the fact that 90% of the job would be in English, the interviewer purposely interviewed me in Hebrew. That went about as well as you would expect — ouch. I had no desire to work there but nothing like a bad interview to knock you down a couple of notches. The interview at the moving company was the opposite. I guess I’m not a good actress because working in that depressing office in Ramat Gan selling moving services would have destroyed my soul, and it must have showed. They basically kept telling me I was over-qualified and asking why i’d want to work there, and I gave my BS answers and smiled and nodded. I let out the hugest sigh of relief walking out of that place.
Crappy interviews like that helped me recognize the right job when it rolled around. The same day I went to Ramat Gan for my interview, I also met with a really nice recruiter who specialized in olim looking for jobs in Sales and Marketing. Her name was also Orly and she was really great and honest, I immediately felt at ease with her. She asked me about the interviews I had coming up and I told her about one I had in Ramat Hachayal through a different recruiter. She told me that company was a great, young place to work and growing really quickly, and that it was too bad I was going there with somebody else because she would have sent me. She basically told me it would be perfect for me given what I am looking for right now, and it meant a lot to me that she would say that to me despite the fact that she would make no profit from my accepting the position.
After doing my research, I decided that if I was offered the job in Ramat Hachayal, I would accept it. I thought my interview would be at the company, but instead it was with recruitment company around the corner. Their office was really nice but the interview was very frustrating. I knew I wanted the job and was qualified for it, that it would be a good fit, but the 2 recruiters I met with had limited English skills and didn’t understand my resume. Once I decoded everything for them and asked them to get me an interview with the hiring manager, I was on my way to what is now my office. Several hours and several interviews there and I had a job offer. I was so excited to get started the next week, I was going crazy not working.
I just finished my first month of work and I feel good. The company is a Hi-Tech/Forex company, which is new to me, as is phone sales. It’s been interesting learning about a new field and a huge international market. I am selling in English to English speakers in Europe, Africa, and Asia. December is a tough month because of the Holidays and there have been days that it was difficult not selling, after 5 years in sales it’s hard to take a few steps back and start something new. Still, the month went as well as I could have hoped and I feel optimistic about the upcoming months.
Life certainly isn’t perfect, I am still struggling with not being able to effectively express myself in Hebrew, with finding where I fit in here, extending my circle of friends, figuring out my future. Still, I feel pretty settled now and it’s a great feeling. I don’t know how it happened so quickly but it’s 2011, we’re into the next decade of the 2000’s. Since the entire world infrastructure didn’t really crumble on the turn of the millennium, as long as Nostradamus was wrong about the date the world ends, we’re going to be just fine. My cousin pointed out to me that this is my second new year here (having arrived the day before Rosh Hashana). It’s not often in life that we have the opportunity to completely start over, and that is exactly what i’ve had this year. I’m looking forward to what the new year brings.