For newcomers, overcoming cultural gaps is imperative in order to fully “blend into the hive” and “prove” a true “belonging to the new tribe.”
In the case of newcomers in Israel, culture could be quite a challenge to overcome. It’s not just language, it’s the behavior. Although people speak relatively good English, the “rules of the games” are just very different: simple gestures, conversation, social elements, et cetera.
But, for a small, open economy such as Israel, and in the start-up and tech eco-system in particular, having a different cultural origin is quite an advantage.
And that’s exactly where I believe newcomers, Olim, and people who just come to work in Israel should absolutely take advantage of!
You could be a bad-ass software developer, rock-star financial analyst, ninja engineer or anything else. But, competing against the local Israeli version of yourself, based on those skills, may not put you in a position to thrive. Because you lack the cultural intelligence.
On the other hand, no matter what your professional skills are, you have a higher cultural intelligence with regards to your country of origin!
Unlike your Israeli peer, you know how to work in and with that culture. How to behave with stakeholders. How to promote collaborations. How to foster, maintain and monetize relationships. How to deal with customers. How to biz-dev. How to market. How to convince. How to sell. You know how to write that email. When to send it. How to talk on the phone – and – unlike most of us Israelis – how to listen!
So, here’s the advice I find myself sharing with many (many) young professionals who try to make it in Israel:
- Put your skill-based competitive advantages aside, they actually come in second.
- Think of potential employers who work with your home country.
- Create a list of the top-10 potential employers you want to work for, and who work with your home country.
- Try to find out where they may struggle to behave as expected overseas, and how you can help them do a better job (for example: on their website, social media, and other public information in your country).
- Find the right stakeholders in that company, reach out and communicate with them, so you get to know them.
- Offer them ideas and some help, even for free (in the beginning), so they get to know you.
- Show them how your other skills, competences and experiences are also valuable to them.
- Tell them you are looking for a job.
- If you see that no opportunities emerge – move on to the next one.
I believe that, in today’s on-demand economy, your ability to reach out to potential employers pro-actively and communicate your cultural intelligence as a unique value-proposition is an amazing advantage, which diminishes a pain they may already experience.
Now, go cash in on your culture.
About the Author:
Assaf Luxembourg acts as a brand ambassador of Israel as “Start-Up Nation,” speaking to thousands of businessmen, investors, entrepreneurs, young professionals, students and others, both in Israel and around the world. He also provides consulting, content, business development and marketing services.