UWORK matches immigrants with jobs to help beat ‘new-country’ blues

Website targets ‘olim’ and foreign language speakers, offering a range of employment in companies across the nation

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

A screenshot of the UWORK website, which seeks to connect immigrants to jobs (Courtesy)
A screenshot of the UWORK website, which seeks to connect immigrants to jobs (Courtesy)

Finding a job as an immigrant can be difficult, thanks to a foreign language, culture, even accent. It’s no different for immigrants to Israel, known as “olim.” Now, a relatively new social for-profit initiative is trying help olim gain employment.

“Olim find it hard to find jobs, but also employers find it hard to identify foreign-language speakers,” said Lilach Avraham, the CEO and founder of UWORK, an online recruitment agency targeted at new immigrants to Israel.

Avraham set up the agency in October 2018 after working for over 10 years in human resources. At software provider Amdocs, she helped the firm find employees, and she subsequently set up a placement and recruitment company for the general population.

Lilach Avraham, the CEO and founder of UWORK, a social business site that seeks to match Olim with jobs (Courtesy)

“I’ve been working in the field of recruitment of olim and foreign language speakers for many years, and I noticed that posting job offers in the well-known online job boards in Israel doesn’t really help me reach the olim,” she said.

This led her to set up the website specifically dedicated to immigrants and foreign language speakers, offering a variety of jobs in companies across the nation, she said. The site is the first online recruitment platform in Israel set up exclusively for this population, according to Avraham.

Since the founding of the nation in 1948, some 3.3 million immigrants have come to Israel, almost 44 percent of them since 1990, according to data provided by the Central Bureau of statistics. In 2018, some 28,000 people immigrated to Israel, up 6.6% from 2017.

Jonas Sala, 27, immigrated to Israel from Paris in 2015. He had a master’s degree in computer engineering, and worked for a year in business intelligence and quality assurance. Upon his arrival to Israel, he volunteered to serve in the Israeli army as a lone soldier, in the Nahal brigade.

After he finished his service, at the beginning of this year, he started putting out feelers in the job market, pretty confident that with his degree and experience, he’d be able to find a job quickly.

But “I realized I had to lower and reset my expectations,” Sala said in French-accented Hebrew by phone. “In Israel they don’t seem to give the same weight to a foreign MA as to an Israeli one.”

Twenty-seven-year-old Jonas Sala immigrated to Israel from Paris in 2015, and joined the army as a lone soldier. He found a job via the UWORK website (Courtesy)

After trying multiple channels, like Facebook and online job websites, he was directed to the UWORK platform by the Jewish Agency. He got about five interviews, he said, and landed a job at AppsVillage, a startup that helps businesses get an app “in a snap.”

“I’m doing OK,” Sala said, adding that the Rishon Lezion-based firm is “growing fast.” He works as a business intelligence engineer, he said, and uses Hebrew and English, but not French, in his work.

Similarly, 28-year old Richard, who preferred not to publish his last name, immigrated to Netanya from Romania in 2009 with his family, found his first job in Israel as a telemarketer, and then worked in a variety of firms.

Earlier this year he decided he want a new job, and heard about UWORK via Facebook. He found a job in customer support at a firm in Raanana within a week.

To use the UWORK platform, explained Avraham, job-seekers upload their CV, the language/s they speak and what they are looking for. The interface is available in Hebrew, English, French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Japanese and Arabic.

The site works with a variety of industries. Tech firms are represented; so are hotels that need polyglot waiters and companies that need translators or salespeople, Avraham said.

When The Times of Israel accessed the site, it was advertising a job for an English-speaking sales agent, a content writer, a digital market coordinator, and an enterprise architect/project manager for a French and Hebrew speaker.

Six thousand immigrant job-seekers are registered and more than 50 companies publish their open positions, Avraham said. The site is free for job-seekers; business pay a fee to advertise their posts.

UWORK operates in the framework of an accelerator program set up by Joint Israel and the National Insurance Institute. The firm works in collaboration with the Jewish Agency, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Gvahim, and Nefesh b’Nefesh, among others.

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