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I attended a seminar recently sponsored by Gvahim about government jobs in Israel. A variety of people spoke that work for the government.
Since government jobs are oftentimes one of the targets of new immigrants to Israel, I will include here some of the points raised at this event.
An initial observation is that many people that are immigrating to Israel from the Western world are making an “aliyah of choice”. For those that study the history of worldwide immigration, there aren’t many examples where the primary impetus for people to transplant themselves to a different country is not directly associated with improving their immediate financial and/or personal security conditions. Yet people that decide to move from the West to Israel generally do not fit this model. The driver for most such people is some combination of religion and culture. Many new immigrants have been involved in Jewish/Zionist activities for years before arriving in Israel, and wish to continue and feel that they are making a contribution to their new homeland, whether it is in the public or non-profit sector.
There are a couple of points worth considering. First, probably the most important thing that a person can do to contribute positively to Israel is to simply live here – anything else, including occupation, is secondary. All of the wonderful qualities, motivation and enthusiasm that you bring will shine through, independent of how you decide to spend time earning a salary.
Second, it is important to be aware that there are a limited number of jobs in this sector, and a good amount of competition. Also, keep in mind that the salaries are on the low side compared to the private sector. As an example, a person speaking at this event, a licensed lawyer in the initial stages of the diplomatic corps, said that her salary is 5,000 NIS/month gross! This is lower than the average Israeli salary of around 8,000/month, and although government jobs may offer additional compensation in the way of benefits, it is important to think this through and decide if it matches your requirements.
For those of you still reading, then I understand you are not to be deterred and want to move forward. One thing that all speakers mentioned is that improving your Hebrew is critical for success in this field. Concentrate as hard as you can on raising your language skills.
Many of government jobs are published on the civil servant website: http://www.civil-service.gov.il/Civil-Service, and awarded through tenders. One thing that is common between government jobs and those in the private sector is the need for networking to raise your visibility for open positions. Meeting people that can influence hiring decisions is a critical challenge, and the most beneficial activity you can engage in. Here are some tips that participants gave:
• Volunteering (internships) is one way to break in. This gives you the opportunity to get some practical experience and impress relevant people with your abilities.
• Enrolling in government or complementary educational programs in Israel is another way to understand the local mentality and meet people of interest. This can also lead to internships and job possibilities.
• Joining a political party and participating in events can give you a chance to learn about the Israeli process and how you may fit in.
As with most objectives, getting a job in the Israeli government is some combination of inspiration and perspiration. For those that have the drive, a very fulfilling career can be on your horizon.
Contributed by Ron Machol - March 2011
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