Working in Israel



Israel's unemployment rate is 4.30%, a fairly manageable figure compared with most of the post-crises world. However, expats looking for employment opportunities will need to note that the country is going through a period of turmoil, which has led to societal unrest.

After shifting its attention from agriculture to technology, Israel finally made its reputation as one of the most promising countries on earth. This year, it boasted an estimated total (Nominal) Gross Domestic Product of USD 327.630 billion which is the 35th largest in the world. This country is also one of the most promising international competitors in terms of innovation, applied sciences and technology. Israel boasts a globally competitive workforce whereas nearly fifth of its 8.1 million population has a degree of some kind. Expats who have decided to work in this country should come prepared since they are about to face a cut throat competition among fellow applicants.

"You have to be extremely organized with your paperwork and make sure you tick all the boxes. There is a lack of consistency in Israel, it’s really down to the luck of who you speak to in the Ministry of Interior."- Abigail Nurser, Expat in Israel

Israel’s Top Job Providers

Israel’s labour force is primarily engaged in services and high-tech industries. Most of the largest employers, excluding the public sector, are in finance and tourism. The increasing number of technology start-ups boosts the demand for bank financing and venture capital. The Middle Eastern nation has one of the world’s highest quotas of tech start-ups on a per capita basis. Tourism is also a sought-after sector to work for in Israel. The sector, which employs 8% of the total labour force, is projected to contribute $22.1 billion to the economy by 2020.

Each year, thousands of international students and workers apply for jobs in Israel’s high-tech companies. MATAM, the largest business and Technology Park in the country, offers jobs to over 8,000 skilled workers in telecommunications, data storage, cyber security and nanotechnology. Some of the global companies that operate in MATAM include IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Google and Philips. Other tech parks have been established in Israel in recent years, and more are in the pipeline.

Expat workers are offered working opportunities in other sectors. Israel’s academic institutions and research universities are in the market for top-notch lecturers and research staff. Hospitals are also hiring thousands of medical and admin staff for English-speaking positions. English-speakers, natives or not, are also in demand in large industrial corporations including Haifa Chemicals, The Israel Electric Company and Dead Sea Works.

Average Salary and Working Hours

The current monthly minimum wage in Israel is ILS 5,000 or USD 1,380. Generally speaking, salaries in this country are lower than in North American and European countries. Wages usually vary depending on the expatriate’s job category as well as educational and professional qualifications. For example, doctors, lawyers, computer engineers and business managers receive the highest median salary in Israel which ranges from ILS 70,000-160,000 or USD 19,300-44,100 annually.

The regular working day in Israel starts from 8:30 am until 6 pm. An average work week, on the other hand, is composed of 43 hours and usually starts on Sunday morning until Friday noon. Most offices and establishments are closed on Friday afternoons until sundown on Saturday in observance of the Shabbat or the Jewish Holy Day. Employees in this country are also entitled to 36 hours of consecutive rest per week and one to three weeks of paid vacation annually.

The Israeli Work Culture

Dress code in Israel, particularly in Tel Aviv, is more informal compared to what expats usually wear in Europe or in North America. However, employees are usually required to dress up during a formal business meeting and women are advised to avoid wearing clothes that show too much skin especially near religious areas. English is widely used in the corporate world but expats will soon notice that most internal transactions or businesses are conducted in Hebrew.

Handshake is the most common greeting in the Israeli work environment but expats in this country must be aware that religious associates do not shake the hands of the opposite sex. Meetings in this country are quite spontaneous and the locals do not pay too much attention in ‘strict punctuality’. They have the tendency to arrive around 25-20 minutes after the scheduled appointment and still don’t consider it late. Expats should also take note that interruptions are quite common in Israel. One can multi-task or take a phone call in the middle of an important meeting without being considered as impolite or rude.

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