Paid Work – Do It Yourself

If a packaged program offering a work experience in Israel isn’t for you, can you just design your own adventure? Of course.

The process is basically like this:

  1. Prepare the legal groundwork
  2. Conduct a remote job search
  3. Secure a job offer
  4. Go to Israel
  5. Settle in and start work

Note, this whole site is geared to Diaspora Jews who are eligible to move to Israel under the Law of Return. If you’re not Jewish and don’t have Jewish ancestry, I suggest you look for exchanges and Israel experiences for targeting foreigners.

Step 1: Prepare the Legal Groundwork

In later steps, after you accept a job offer, you’ll want to move fast to start your job. To ensure you can do that, you’ll need to collect the required documentation ahead of time. So, start now. 

First confirm you are eligible under the Law of Return, meaning you have at least one Jewish grandparent or you converted to Judaism and don’t profess any other religion. That is the basis upon which you will be granted a work visa, so you need to meet those conditions.

Special case: if you are born in Israel or the child of at least one Israeli parent, then you are already considered an Israeli citizen and you have the right to work in Israel. So, in that sense you’re good to go. There may be other complications to consider (e.g., army duty), but I’ll have to blog about that another time.

Under the Law of Return, you have special access to three visa types. I will focus on the B/1 Work Visa. This is a temporary work visa you can get relatively easily. It simply allows you to live and work in Israel. It doesn’t affect your immigration status or create any obligations. The other visas you could get are an Aliya Visa and an A/1 Temporary Resident Visa. These are intended for people who have made a stronger commitment to live in Israel in the long term. 

Please see this page for the documentation required to obtain the B/1 work visa. Note, official foreign documents (e.g., birth certificates, marriage certificates) require an apostille. This may take some extra time to get, that is why I suggest starting this right away. Proof of Judaism may also require some investigative work, so, again, get started early. 

Finally, pay close attention to the requirements of this step, including originals, letterhead requirements, signatures in ink, etc. that may seem outdated or arbitrary. Failure to meet these can cause problems down the line. To confirm you’re all set, I recommend you contact your local Jewish Agency office to review your documents. 

Step 2: Conduct a Remote Job Search

The target here is a job in the high-tech sector. For that you’ll need an education and work experience in high-tech. Let’s assume you have that. 

Jobs in Israel are increasingly posted on job sites. LinkedIn is the best option for jobs posted in English. When I wrote this, there were about 10K jobs posted there. A second choice is Secret Tel Aviv, a weekly entertainment newspaper with a jobs portal. They list about 1,300 jobs, so quite a bit smaller than LinkedIn, but there might be some unique opportunities in there, so worth looking. Also, they have a very nice list of the Best Companies to Work For in Israel 2024. Find a great company, target them hard and find a way in. I bet you know people who know people who work there.

If you can read a bit of Hebrew, I suggest you also apply via Got Friends. They had 16K job posting when I looked, so about 60% more than LinkedIn. They are a recruiting company, so you have to apply through them (company names are hidden), and they will charge the hiring company a fee if you are hired. Even if you don’t read Hebrew, I would shoot a mail to who heads the company to say you’re planning to move to Israel and are looking for work. Include your CV. Hopefully, she’ll put you in the database and expose you to hiring companies. 

Beyond these job boards, I would suggest networking as much as possible. If you have family or friends in Israel, contact them and let them know you plan to come and work. They will often make an effort to introduce you to people who might know someone who knows someone who has a job. There is also a really cool list of 240+ top-tier mentors willing to help newcomers find jobs in Israel. This list was assembled by the Nevo Network, which is an organization devoted to helping established immigrants thrive in their tech careers. The mentors are volunteers willing to help Jews from around the world find work and settle in. A young American I was coaching used this list to network and ended up landing a great job in an AI startup.

Step 3: Secure a Job Offer

When you get a company interested in you, you’ll need to prepare for the interview. It is mostly the same as preparing for any interview for a tech company in America. They are looking for the same technical skills and soft skills. However, there are cultural differences you need to be prepared for.

Israelis are direct, to the point, and quickly dispense with niceties. They will challenge you with questions that might make you uncomfortable, such as:

  • Why do you want to come to Israel? 
  • If I offer you this job, how do I know you are actually going to show up?
  • Can’t you find a job in America?
  • How much money do you want? 
  • How is your Hebrew?
  • Are you married? Why not?

That last one is probably illegal (at least if the job is not offered because of the answer) but I just put it in the prepare you for the kind of invasive and insensitive questions you might not be used to. 

In most cases, these questions are sincere and relevant to the employer’s concerns. They don’t want to be messed up by someone who’s not going to come through. But rather than just make the judgement silently and reject you, Israelis will ask the uncomfortable questions to check their assumptions. It is up to you to reassure them you’ll be reliable and will perform if they give you the offer. 

My advice is to sound a bit more confident that you really are. For example, a big concern will be about your plans to actually come to Israel. I would make it sound like a done deal: “If you give me the offer, I’ll show up for work in your office within 4 weeks. I have it planned.” A statement like that will give a lot of reassurance that you’re serious, on par with someone they could hire locally. On the other hand, if you reveal some loose ends, say, about how long you’ll need to wrap up work, or get out of your lease, or handle the wedding you’re supposed to be at, the employer might quickly go cold on the idea. Come up with a plan you think you can deliver on before the interview and make it sound rock solid.

When it comes to negotiating salaries, take a look at the many sites that publish salary ranges for various tech positions. These are in Hebrew, but I know you can figure it out:

Step 4: Go to Israel

Once you have a written job offer, the next step is planning your move. I won’t cover all the things you need to think about and take care of before moving, like what to bring, how to ship it, where to stay when you land, etc. Let me just deal with the differences between this move and, say, a move from New York to San Francisco. Apart from a longer flight, the main difference is you’re crossing an international border, so you’ll need a visa. This is where the preparation in step 1 comes in. Make sure to bring with you all the documents you prepared in that step.

When you land in Israel, you’ll enter the country on a default tourist visa. This is automatically issued when you pass Immigration in the airport. This type of visa doesn’t allow you to work, so you’ll need to upgrade it to a B/1 work visa after you enter. To do that, follow the instructions here.

This process should be straightforward. The biggest risk is not having the right documents and right approvals. That is why step 1 is important to get right. If you encounter problems, I suggest you enlist the help of Israelis, like the hiring manager of the company who offered you the job, or friends, to help speed up the system. They know the right way to bang on doors and get things done. You can also message me in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Step 5: Settle In and Start Work

For good advice on managing the transition to life in Israel and settling in, look at the resources on the Nefesh b’Nefesh site. This Israel-sponsored NGO is dedicated to facilitating North American aliya (permanent moves) but the same advice will most often apply to a temporary move for work as well. There is lots of information there about finding housing, picking your community, health insurance, bank accounts, and learning Hebrew. Bear in mind that some offers may only be available to those with Israeli citizenship, but you can still use the links here as starting points to find the right contact.

Good luck on your journey! I’m super excited for you.

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