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Behind the Headlines: New Immigrants Finding Jobs Through Listings on Web Sites

Tobian Mount knows the value of using the Internet to search for a job in Israel.

After moving from Colorado to Israel last December, he enrolled in an intensive Hebrew-language course and began his job search.

Not yet fluent in Hebrew, Mount found it difficult to scan Israeli newspapers for a job in the food industry, his chosen field.

His lack of Hebrew also put him at a disadvantage in the marketplace.

Despite these obstacles, the 25-year-old immigrant was able to land a job within just a few months, thanks to a new site on the Internet.

“I was a store manager for Burger King in the States and was hoping for something along the same lines,” says Mount, who now works as the night-shift manager of the Har Nof, Jerusalem, branch of Bonkers Bagels.

“My mother-in-law did a job search for me on the Web and discovered the AACI Jobnet,” he says. If she had not seen the site, “I don’t think I would have known about Bonkers.”

Launched on Israel’s Independence Day in May 1997, the Jobnet is the brainchild of the AACI — the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel — and Jacob Richman, a former resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Richman’s free listings over the years of high-tech jobs compiled from newspaper ads have helped many potential immigrants and native Israelis find work in Israel.

The AACI has provided on-site job placement for new immigrants.

Hoping to promote aliyah and to assist those already living in Israel in their job search, Richman and the AACI joined forces about a year ago.

Armed with a plan that would encourage Israeli companies to advertise their job openings, the team received two start-up grants for the project: $60,000 from Israel’s Ministry of Science and $179,000 from the SAMIS Foundation of Seattle.

Founded by Sam Israel, SAMIS funds Jewish continuity projects in Washington state and Israel.

Since its inception on the World Wide Web three months ago, the user-friendly site — www.jobnet.co.il — has attracted 240 companies that have listed hundreds of jobs in both English and Hebrew.

Categorized by field, the jobs range from computer programmer and systems engineer to chauffeur and radio disk jockey.

“About three-quarters of the listings are high-tech,” says Richman. “There’s a huge shortage of high-tech personnel in this country, particularly in the computer and electronics industries.”

This is not to say that liberal-arts majors should despair.

“Companies are looking for lawyers, administrators, secretaries, artists, translators, travel agents. There’s a lot of diversity out there,” Richman adds.

Any company wishing to list its openings on the Web site pays a fee ranging from $75 to $225, depending on the number of positions it lists.

Access to the site by job-seekers is free.

“Compared to the cost of a small ad in the weekend newspaper, which comes to $300 to $400, that’s very low,” Richman says. “We’re hopeful the companies will think it’s worth their while.”

David Hersh, deputy executive director of AACI, believes that it is.

“Out of 600 job listings, about 120 have been removed because they were filled. We don’t have any hard statistics yet, but I’d say at least 15 to 20 percent were filled by people utilizing the Jobnet.”

Using Internet terminology to stress the high number of visits to Jobnet’s site, Hersh says, “Since June 1, we’ve had 700,000 hits and over 22,000 visits from countless countries.

“In contrast, the Knesset site gets about 100,000 hits a month. The interest is obviously there.”

Rochelle Regal, a human resources administrator at Accent Software in Jerusalem, says that about 25 percent of her company’s applicants have come via the Jobnet.

“We advertise jobs in a variety of ways, but the Internet is one of the best,” she says.

According to Zev Wernick, the overall manager for the Bonkers Bagels chain, the majority of job applicants are new immigrants.

The bagel company, which was founded by two years ago by three immigrants – – two American and one British — now has six stores and 100 employees.

“We’re looking to get as many good people as possible, and we’ll go to any source, including the Internet,” says Wernick.

While acknowledging the role that sites like the Jobnet can play in fostering aliyah, Joe Romanelli, director of the North American Desk at the Jewish Agency for Israel, says jobs alone do not spur aliyah.

“Job-listing sites on the Internet definitely have a role to play,” but finding a job is “not necessarily the impetus for making aliyah,” says Romanelli.

“People have to be drawn to Israel for other reasons. They won’t come if they’re not interested.”

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