Or, that time I found a job during a global pandemic
After five years in the same job, I was both excited and nervous for my new job hunt. On one hand, this was an incredible opportunity to continue building my career in Israel, possibly even switching from nonprofit/NGOs to working in hi-tech. On the other hand, job hunting is stressful and I was eager to find employment, ASAP. I am extremely lucky that I was not under pressure to take a job, any job, and I really took advantage of this opportunity.
I first started applying for jobs on February 10. On March 12, I received my first job offer, which I declined. I received a second job offer on April 1. After negotiating the salary I accepted the offer and signed the contract on April 3. I started my job today, April 19. Under non-pandemic circumstances I think this would be considered a pretty quick job hunt. Given the current situation, it’s nothing short of miraculous.
In the beginning of my job search I applied to anything that sounded interesting. After two interesting interviews with nonprofits, I decided to focus my attention on startups/tech companies, because I felt that the process was clearer and the jobs held more room for growth. I focused on customer support/success and content manager roles, because those were the roles I was most interested in, they didn’t always require a technical background, and they did always require high-level English. I mostly applied to customer success/support roles, and in the end I accepted a position in this field.
Out of all of the jobs I applied to, I ended up interviewing with 18 companies:
The NOs…from them
1 was a customer success position, where I completed the interview process before being told that “you’re not quite what we’re looking for”.
1 was a content reviewer position, where the interviewed made it very clear that I didn’t have the right skillset…and made me wonder why I was brought in to interview in the first place, since I’d already passed a phone screen with HR.
2 were nonprofits. In general I felt very confident going into these interviews because I had very relevant work experience and didn’t need to stretch to explain how my skills could benefit the company. This meant I also tended to be more aggressive in the interviews/push more with my questions. I didn’t receive an offer from either organization and…I was a bit relieved, to be honest. Shout out to the person I interviewed with (who would have been my supervisor) who had an intern I never met send the rejection email. That is classless and I am glad you aren’t my boss!
1 was a customer success position where I did a phone interview and then never heard back.
1 was a customer success position at a travel company. I thought the interview went well, but they implemented a hiring freeze, possibly due to the fact that the coronavirus decimated tourism.
1 was a position at a social media marketing company, they got my resume from a recruiter. In the in-person interview, I had a very negative gut feeling. Naturally, I got a request for a follow-up interview. HR then contacted me and said they don’t have any jobs to offer…then the next day the interviewer called and I had to tell them that HR already rejected me. That was a weird experience and I’m not sad it’s over.
1 was a customer support position at a startup, where I did an in-person interview and completed a task.
1 was a customer support position where I did a phone interview (in Hebrew) and then a video interview, where I also completed a task.
1 was a content writer position for an e-commerce company. I completed the entire process (phone interview, in-person interview, writing assignment, interview with the department director), and they decided to go with other candidates.
1 was a content writer position. I completed an online task and never heard back.
1 was a content writer position. I had a phone interview and was then invited for an in-person interview. The interview was postponed due to the coronavirus, and them moved to Zoom. I then completed a writing assignment. I then received a rejection, which
The NOs…from me
1 was a content writer position. I received a writing assignment. I completed it…or so I thought. Turns out I missed some material, but I did not enjoy the task, so I withdrew my candidacy.
1 was a customer success job, but it had evening hours. I made it to the in-person interview, but then decided I really didn’t want to work evening hours, so I withdrew my candidacy.
1 was to be the branch manager of a company. I loved all of the people I met and felt I could do the work well, but some of the variables (lower salary than I wanted, and it might be a maternity leave position but I needed to be able to commit to a date even later than that, plus working on Fridays) meant that I felt the job wasn’t right for me. Then the coronavirus really broke out and social distancing was encouraged…so given the type of work, I’m not sure the job would have still been doable.
In Progress…AKA the recruitment process was halted due to coronavirus:
2 were customer support positions for startups
I did a phone interview (in English and Hebrew), and then completed a two-part task. Throughout the entire interview process for this job, I felt a bit out of my depth. However, I was invited to an in-person interview…to be scheduled after coronavirus.
I did a phone interview, then an in-person interview (in Hebrew!)
In the height of my job search, I was in the application process (from phone interview onwards) with seven companies at once. It was exhausting. Instead of serial dating, it was serial job hunting. Physical aspects aside, I found the process nearly identical.
I had two days where I had in-person interviews with two different companies in the same day. This was great for efficiency, but it was mentally exhausting. I don’t recommend this, but I also don’t think it negatively impacted my interviews.
My Job Criteria
Interesting work (that isn’t evil!)
Whatever I do, I want to make the world a better place, in some way.
Room for growth–either the opportunity for promotion or learning new skills
I applied for a lot of jobs in startups, and since I had never worked in one before, I understood that I might need to work a more junior position for a little while, in order to gain the skills to be a stronger candidate.
Good work environment and hours
I want to enjoy coming into work, and I want to work relatively standard hours, so I have nights and weekends free for socializing and generally enjoying life.
Ideally, I want at least some of my coworkers to become my friends!
Ideally within one hour and easily accessible by public transportation.
In the end, I got everything I wanted! Once working from home ends the commute will be a bit long since the office isn’t in Tel Aviv, but they have a shuttle from Tel Aviv to the office, so it shouldn’t be too bad.
My Main Takeaways
In general, I really do think that I got a relatively high number of responses because I have a BA from an Ivy League university (and an MA, which was only helpful in maybe two situations), a strong, well-written resume, and five years of experience at my previous job. So although I don’t have any experience in hi-tech (which definitely made things harder), I also wasn’t starting at zero. In addition, I have excellent Hebrew–so much so that I did some of the phone and in-person interviews in Hebrew, which was always a point in my favor, and I made sure to emphasize the fact that I only made Aliyah 1.5 years ago (and spent half that time abroad). Moreover, my last job was with an Israeli organization. My point is that if someone is looking for advice from someone who entered the Israeli job market from scratch/with minimal work experience and/or very limited Hebrew…this isn’t for you, I’m sorry.
None of this is rocket science or even specific to Israel, but here are my main takeaways from this process:
LinkedIn is way more popular in Israel than I expected
The resume needs to be well-written, relevant for the position, AND include relevant keywords
Whenever possible, have a contact from within the company submit your resume
Job listings can be outdated–better to also check the company’s job listings on their website, to be safe
Be patient! I had to constantly remind myself that I might not have found my job yet
Israeli companies are much better than US companies at updating you/replying throughout the job search process. Getting rejection emails and calls was never fun, but at least I knew where I stood.
If you can and if it’s relevant, speak as much Hebrew as possible during the interview
I was on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster–especially after my first rejection, which was for a job I really wanted and really thought I would get. That rejection really stung, the others were fine. My mood definitely fluctuated depending on whether I thought I did well in an interview or received a rejection. I found that the best way to combat this was to be proactive–always be searching for new job opportunities, even when I thought things were going well with various leads.