MENTORING FOR SUCCESS – Interview with Mark Haselton, mentor for the Career Program Alumni

By Larry Luxner

As global pipeline manager at Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals, Mark Hasleton supervises the development of promising new therapies to treat a range of diseases. He’s happy if maybe five out of 100 such drugs see the light of day.

But as a mentor with Gvahim, Hasleton’s batting average is considerably better than that.

The British-born executive, who made aliyah from London eight years ago with his wife and three kids, has volunteered for Gvahim since 2012. In the process, he’s helped dozens of new immigrants land jobs not the conventional way — but the Israeli way.

“I just happened to come across Gvahim by chance actually, and someone gave me advice when I moved here. So it seemed like a good opportunity to repay the favor,” he said in a recent phone interview. “The people I’ve mentored all seem to be doing OK. They must be happy with it because they’ve often referred their friends to me.”

Mark, 45, says he meets up with new olim face-to-face for at least half an hour.

“If they come into Teva, I try to set up other meetings for them at the same time that might be relevant,” he said. “Every two weeks, we catch up for 20 minutes by phone. If anything pops up in the meantime, people can call me.”

But because, as Mark says, “a lot more goes on at Teva than just pharmaceuticals,” new arrivals who come to him for mentoring can expect help linking up with potential employers in other fields such as law, finance and information technology.

Don’t send out resumes blindly

The problem, he warns, is that looking for a job in Israel takes personal connections — something most recent immigrants are unaware of.

“People who come from Europe are used to the paradigm of sending out a CV, getting a response back, setting up an interview and getting a job. Then they come to Israel, send out CVs and don’t even get a response. That’s because a lot of the jobs that are advertised here are already gone,” Mark explained.

“Usually, companies will decide they need someone. They ask around who’s good, then they’ll decide they want that person to fill that position,” he continued. “Then HR will tell them they need to advertise it — even though the job has essentially been given to someone. So sitting at home sending out CVs is ineffective, and it can also be very detrimental and quite depressing for the person doing it.”

That’s why Mark tells people the first thing they should do is stop looking for a job.

“The key is all about networking – and how you present your self. If someone called me and asked if I have a job for them then I would have to say no. If, however, you call me and say ‘I’m new in Israel, I’d love to hear more about what you do,’ it’s no skin off my nose, and talking about me is my favorite topic,” he said.

Doing that helps educate potential employees about companies and sectors they hadn’t even thought about. More importantly, he said, “when those people who they’re meeting need somebody, they’ve already interviewed that person. You’re no longer just a PDF in an inbox, you’re someone who had the initiative to come out and meet him or her. I find frequently that the CV doesn’t match the person — but this way, the oleh and the person in a position to hire have already met.”

In the end, Mark said, this method works much better than emailing resumes to companies that may never respond.

“Right now, four or five jobs are out there that are tailor-made for you,” he advised. “The more you network, the more your chances of finding one or two of those jobs. They’re out there, but they’re not advertised. People who take this seriously and network aggressively find those jobs, and after four to six weeks — if they do it properly — they’re sitting down with two or three offers.”