Despite being told a bachelor’s degree would be the ticket to career success, college graduates in the U.S. face an ominous unemployment rate. Depending on your major, unemployment rates range from 4.8 percent to 14.7 percent. But what you may have failed to consider is the slew of job opportunities abroad—namely, in countries like Israel.
“Hailed by many to be the ‘Startup Nation,’ Israel is a world-renowned center for high-tech development, second only to Silicon Valley in terms of startup density,” says Yael Karov, CEO of Tel Aviv-based startup Ginger Software, a leading natural language tech company that helps native and non-native English speakers increase their writing and speaking skills over time through a smart, context-understanding algorithm that was built by Ginger after indexing a trillion sentences on the Web.
To find out more about this employment hub, I spoke with Karov and Pini Yakuel, CEO and cofounder of Tel Aviv-based startup Optimove, provider of customer retention automation software that helps internet businesses convert more leads, increase customer spend and engagement, reduce churn, and win back more lost customers. Both Optimove and Ginger Software have seen significant growth recently. Founded in 2010, Optimove has tripled its revenue and doubled staff to 30 employees in just one year, and Ginger Software, founded in 2007, has raised over $20 million in venture funding and grown to 45 employees.
Here’s why the CEOs of these leading Tel Aviv startups think you should consider working in Israel after college:
Heather Huhman: Why should new grads consider looking for employment in Israel after graduation?
Pini Yakuel: Despite misconceptions, Israel is a far cry from a barren desert with camels. It is a thriving metropolis boasting some of the world’s most advanced scientific, medical, agricultural and tech companies. Americans might not know the USB flash drive, cell phone, firewall, and instant messaging were all invented in Israel! Grads looking for employment in Israel will have a range of opportunities in thousands of companies from a wide range of industries.
Yael Karov: Israel has managed to navigate the worldwide recession quite well, experiencing consecutive growth throughout. Native English-speaking professionals are always in demand—they bridge the gap between Israel technological prowess and the rest of the world.
HH: How is workplace culture in Israel different from the U.S.?
PY: Israeli office culture is not formal—no firm dress codes, light formality in boss-employee relations, and relatively flat company hierarchy, especially among high-tech startups. As long as an employee is delivering as expected, they’ll be respected and valued. Perks like meals and a company car are commonplace.
HH: What are the working conditions, hours, vacations and holidays like in Israel?
PY: The standard workweek is five days, Sunday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday are the official weekend. Vacation days vary, but typically a non-managerial employee will have 10-14 paid vacation days per year, plus another 8-10 days for Jewish holidays.
HH: How can new grads become connected with Israeli jobs?
PY: Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be used, and many American companies have specific jobs pages for Israel, like Microsoft and Intel. Local websites like JobNet, Computer Jobs in Israel and IsraelJobs.com can help. Another option is to contact HR agencies used by Israeli companies. If a grad is looking for internships, they can check out Intern in Israel and Real Life Israel.
YK: An out-of-the-box way to find jobs would be to scour the Israeli startup map to find startups and approach them directly.
HH: What should a new grad expect in the Israeli interview process?
PY: It won’t be too different than the U.S. A company may conduct a phone interview, personal interviews and a few tests. Dress respectfully but casually! I know an American who wore a suit and tie to his first job interview in Israel. The interviewer almost laughed at him and recommended he leave the suit at home.
HH: How can moving abroad for work impact a new grad’s career?
PY: Working abroad will have a very positive impact on a career. You’ll acquire experience in a wide range of areas within a short amount of time. The opportunities in Israel are endless. Being a native English speaker is always a huge advantage, so I truly believe they’ll have no limit whatsoever flourishing in the Israeli commercial ecosystem.
Interested in packing up and working in Israel? At Optimove, they expect employees to be ninjas. Optimove gives employees happy hour every Thursday, employee fun days, and more. Optimove employees aren’t only coworkers, they’re good friends who hang out after work.
Ginger offers a very mission-driven workplace without much hierarchy. Employees are powered to lead on their own—to step up and make a difference in the company.
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and HR technologies. She’s also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internshipsand #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle, and career and recruiting advisor for numerous outlets.