By Maurice Picow
Looking for an English speaking job in Israel? Then be prepared for night shifts, as most of these jobs are out-sourced, and dealing with clientele in North America. Advertisements in English language newspapers such as The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz (English translation), as well as in Israemploy and similar job web sites catering to English speakers, regularly post sales and customer service positions requiring ‘mother tongue’ English speakers. To those who are recent arrivals to Israel, such as ones who arrived on the well publicized Nefesh b’Nefesh aliyah flights, look for these positions due to not having a good enough level of Hebrew; or virtually no Hebrew at all.
What they eventually find out, is that these jobs entail working evening and even night shifts in order to coordinate their work hours with those in North America, ranging from -7 hours for the U.S. East Coast, to -10 hours for states like California, Oregon, and Washington. Though some of these positions, pay fairly well (including increased pay for working ‘grave yard’ shift hours), other positions pay little more than minimum wage, with the rest expected to be made up by commissions earned on closed sales. Two often advertised companys, DSNR and IDT Global, continuously recruit employees willing to work these topsy-turvy hours, or are able to hold up under a highly stressful work environment.
IDT Global, working under an American call center type of environment, being owned by a parent American based company, IDT Communications Co. Inc, is probably one of the best choices for the English speaking job candidate, if you don’t mind the late hours. They handle customer service calls for U.S. based companies such as American on Line (AOL), and have other positions that include working with people living in the United Kingdom as well. Though their main center is based in Jerusalem, they are now in the process of opening and expanding offices in other locations, including Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva.
Outsourcing is becoming a very common business in Israel; a country which has a large number of foreign language speakers, including European and Latin American languages as well. Though India has far more people employed in outsourced positions, they cannot provide the quality of the spoken English that is found in Israel, despite its small size. The number of available personnel with a high level of spoken English, includes many Israelis whose parents came originally from English speaking countries. Many of these workers are young and willing to fill these kind of work shifts. High tech companies in North America, as well as Israel based ones dealing mainly with the North American market, often avail themselves to this labor pool to staff their ‘help desks’ and other needed customer service positions.
For those who qualify for technical writing and marketing communication positions (known as MARCOM) the work hours can be more palatable as these writing jobs do not require regular contact with foreign clientele. These positions are very much in demand by companies p r o v i d i n g that the job candidates have two or more years of proven work experience. It’s not enough to complete a technical writing course, costing thousands of Shekels. Without that work experience, getting hired afterwards is no easy chore, and one has to be either very talented or extremely creative to come on board. Freelance and similar positions can help one get the needed experience; but how does one support him or herself in the interim?
Persistence and perseverance will eventually pay off in landing a suitable position. But one must be flexible and willing to ‘burn the midnight oil’ if need be.