What if I told you there was a simple and proven way to get hired into a highly desired position with a starting wage of 20-23,000 NIS, without a college degree or any experience from a leading hi-tech company?
The real estate assertion applies: Location! Location! Location! And in this case- where have you served in the army?
Large as well as small companies in the Israeli market are always on the lookout for strong and technologically advanced candidates for their development units.
The hi-tech industry first emerged in the U.S.A in the 1980’s. In Israel, this important industry initially developed within the military and defense industries and other technology oriented government organizations. By contrast, today most of this fast growth market is dominated by privately owned companies.
That said, ever today the Israeli army remains a critical factor in the industry both as an important developer of hi-tech products and, most certainly, a rich source of hi-tech industry qualified candidates.
In most western countries, like the U.S.A., in order to acquire the technical knowledge and the needed experience for an attractive position on a research and development unit of a hi-tech company, one needs to first graduate college with a relevant academic engineering degree then earn some experience, slowly climbing up the corporate ladder.
In Israel though, we have come up with a different and unique solution to the exacting resource requirements of a fast growth tech industry. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) drafts tech savvy 18 year old high school graduates into technological military units, based on their high school diploma accomplishments and their performance on professional assessments and examinations. In these units they are enrolled in quality training programs including mastery of sophisticated programing languages and working with the most advanced technological tools available. These soldiers dedicate their service years to developing a variety of high tech systems and products, and over time advance to leadership roles, ultimately managing teams of developers.
Generally, by the time these tech focused soldiers turn 20-22 years of age they hit the civilian commercial market equipped with all the skills, expertise, tools and experience required to make it to a desired position in the high tech world.
As an example, the famous Unit 8200 is the largest unit in the IDF. It spearheads the intelligence branch and implements the newest and most advanced technology leveraged in defense of the country. This world renowned unit was named in connection with the development of an information gathering software called “Flame”. This program was nominated in 2012 as the most advanced software ever made. Furthermore the unit was featured prominently in the noted book Entrepreneur Nation.
Ex- 8200 professionals are well known in Israel and abroad as exceptional people. ‘Business insider’ magazine called the unit “The Best Tech School on Earth”. After being discharged they often become integrated into key roles in the hi-tech industry, and credited with a lot of developments we all use: from the NGFW (New Generation Firewall) developed at Palo Alto Networks, to applications and technologies we all use in our smart phones (face recognition, Viber etc). Leading companies in this field of work are being established and composed of ex-8200 professionals, effecting most of the international large corporations in the field of software and information security.
Furthermore, Cyber Jym, the most advanced school for cyber warfare was founded with the cooperation of ex- 8200 specialists. Here is a link to the CNN report on this school:
This unit, along with several other technological units in the IDF and military industries, produces excellence quality hi-tech industry savvy candidates year after year. These candidates are able to leverage their skills to drive a whole different field of technology development in the civilian market. The vast military experience compensates at times for the lack of an academic degree and any civilian experience, paving the way for those candidates to a position with a salary matching that offered to ones with years of civilian experience and a college degree.
As a recruitment agent at Picaro- Consulting & Placement, I am fortunate to come across this type of highly qualified candidate on a regular basis. These tech industry candidates do not only deliver exceptional skill sets but also tend to be highly motivated in entering the civilian market, with its alluring salaries and added prestige. Their high level of skills and expertise combined with their young age render them very attractive to potential technology employers.
Recently we started working exclusively with a leading project company in the field of cloud computing and video. The founders of the company themselves come from a background of a military service in a technological unit. The CEO is currently responsible for all client relations and managing of the development department. They are now looking for a person to take charge of these responsibilities which carry the at most importance. The candidate that will be selected will manage large sums of money and accept full responsibility of 10 software developers. As it turns out, a candidate only needs to display a developmental background and command experience from a technological unit in order for that CEO to entrust him with those tremendous duties. No doubt this is a rare opportunity for a young person.
Out of all the potential candidates we’ve referred, those who had management experience from the civilian sector were rejected. Off course, this is a unique case, and it is important to keep in mind it doesn’t represent the majority of job opportunities. In most cases, a candidate with civilian management experience that can demonstrate a solid technological background will be welcomed at that type of roles.
Another relevant example out of our current work is a different position opened recently at a startup company we work with. The company developed a ground breaking product in the field of communication system monitoring. The recruiting VP R&D (himself an ex-8200) is on the lookout for Java developers with keen understanding of communications equipment. You would think Java developers who previously worked at similar companies developing monitoring tools would fit the bill perfectly. During the recruitment process and the close work with the VP R&D we came to see that the best match was derived from Java developers who came from the field of system administration in a variety of technical units in the IDF. They came across a range of communication equipment and devices and showed a great curiosity towards a deeper understanding of the matter.
Despite those examples, as a recruitment agent I can clearly say the two main and most critical features necessary to land a challenging position in a leading hi-tech company are still an engineering degree from a recognized academic establishment, and a relevant technological experience. Being a graduate of a technical unit in the IDF does not guarantee the right position all by itself.
Employers we work with are diligently looking for strong candidates who show extensive experience and a prime motivation to grow within the company acquiring skills in an always evolving technical environment while maintaining high quality of products without compromises.