Filling the Israeli tech talent pool
Tech recruitment has become a nationwide concern, so how do the heads of Wix, Fiverr, and other top companies face the challenge?
Nir Zohar, Wix president and COOSenior engineers according to Wix president and COO Nir Zohar, are the hardest employees to find today. “The entire high-tech ecosystem feels the lack of a workforce, and we are no different,” he explained. “Even before the unprecedented growth of the past 18 months, with nearly $20 billion infused into the tech ecosystem, Israel was lacking in talent to fill roles whether technical, marketing, UX, etc. Now, with the sheer amount of organic growth in the industry, companies are rapidly trying to fill roles and competition is fierce, which we feel across the board.” “Israeli tech is going through dramatic changes and with an entrepreneur as prime minister, we have a unique opportunity to not only sustain the growth but continue product excellence within Israel. There are key actions that need to be executed by the government to help solve this issue in the short-term and long term.”
“We in Fiverr also feel the changes in the Israeli employment market as a whole and particularly in the high-tech field in recent years and deal with fierce competition on talent,” Kaufman admitted. “The current situation requires us to take a different approach regarding employee recruitment, retention, and development. We invest a lot of resources to ensure we are competitive in this market. However, the situation does not prevent us from meeting our goals, moving forward, and keeping innovation at the core of our business.”“The influence of the growing competition is primarily evident in the level of investment needed in the recruitment process today. Luckily, it does not affect our progress or growth, but it is without a doubt a challenge we deal with a lot,” he added. “Employees today are looking to find meaning and purpose in their work beyond just their compensation. They are looking to do meaningful work, to be part of something bigger, a company with an exciting, big vision and a guiding purpose. Here at Fiverr, that is what it is all about. In addition, we also encourage curiosity, creativity, and innovation as core values in everything we do.” “Like in any field of activity in Fiverr, our recruitment process remains true to our core values - recruit talent based on potential, and encourage diversity,” Kaufman continued. “The positive impact that every employee has on millions of people’s lives around the world is a significant advantage for Fiverr. We are changing the future of work and providing opportunities for anyone to build their business, brand, or dreams. We make a real impact on people’s lives.” As for hiring issues and which positions are most challenging to fill, Kaufman noted that “Today, with the rise of many global companies based in Israel, the gap is mainly in fields such as data, design, and marketing.”
Tom Livne, Verbit CEO and founder“We have growth goals throughout the company,” stated Tom Livne, CEO and founder of Verbit, which focuses on AI-based audio and video transcriptions. Despite the fact his company has raised close to $300 million to date, Livne admitted there are “challenges in hiring, mainly in the R&D department. The challenge is to multiply our teams in a very short timeline, in very small and competitive employment markets.”
Has the talent shortage affected your product?
“Up until now, our employment brand and smart growth mechanisms allowed us to grow on time, but this is a challenge that might impact our future growth.”Livne named R&D positions as the hardest to fill, yet, when asked about the possibilities of outsourcing or bringing over staff from abroad, he suggests alternatives. “Importing people can be done, though it needs to be sustainable for the long term. Another idea is to take people who are already here and provide them with a good chance to develop a career and earn more.” He did acknowledge the Israeli government’s policies aiming at remedying the matter but also added that it “is being done already but not at the pace or scope the industry needs.”
“We have a great employee brand, a company with amazing success in the past four years, a great product and value proposition that help make the world more accessible to everyone. And, last but not least, great people, and culture.”Ronni Zehavi, Hibob CEO and co-founder One company that is observing the high-tech talent shortage from more than its own hiring point of view is Hibob. “Our platform Bob (HR-tech) is the heart of how our clients manage their people,” explained CEO and co-founder Ronni Zehavi. “Things like retention, culture, DE&I, onboarding, career development are part of how we help our customers to put their people first. We help our customers better understand their organization and make the right hiring decisions based on data and insights from the platform.” Has the talent shortage affected your product?
“It is obvious that when we want to develop more features to our product and also make it have the right features for every market we serve, we need to align the right talent to push the product forward,” Zehavi explained. “If we are late in hiring product managers, the specks for product engineering will be delivered later, and the product development will be delayed. We are constantly optimizing the hiring plans knowing that we need product managers to lead product development or that we need business development and intelligence to lead product management.”
As for its own workforce, Zehavi pointed to the company’s growth during the past year, “Hibob has increased its team by 70%,” although, he also recognized that “there is a lacking workforce around unique skill sets and talents that have become even more in demand during these times. For example, unique knowledge of languages in certain functions or unique digital platforms that are required for growth.” However, Zehavi finds a silver lining in the post-covid reality. “We feel that there are many opportunities now and people are searching for the right company and position that will fit them to meet their career goals.”
“Yes, we do outsource. We think importing talent to Israel is only a short-term solution that will not scale. Only a fundamental change led by the government will make the needed impact.”Does the Israeli government need to act?
“Yes, by increased budgets and more programs at the high school level to begin with. We need to encourage more students to learn Tech related fields for their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, etc., especially among those that do not have equal opportunities. The government needs to allocate a budget for programs (including boot camps style programs) for professionals transitioning into the different high-tech fields. Not only coding skills need to be developed but also project management, languages, communication, and digital orientation.”“We are working with organizations that are training people with sciences degrees with the basic skill sets they would need for a high-tech position,”. Zehavi stated. “We invest much in our inclusive and diverse culture - and we are looking for people that can add to our diversity that share our values and that are excited about helping to shape the future of work.” Avi Snir, Elevation co-founder and CEO
Another company with a unique outlook on the current tech talent shortage is Elevation. On the one hand, the company is very much a part of the ecosystem and is actively hiring. On the other, the services it offers include training programs and bootcamps.
“The talent shortage impacted our product differently,” Avi Snir, Elevation co-founder and CEO pointed. “As we offer a wide range of services to help companies win different challenges related to their talent, the current talent shortage drove us to focus on what companies need the most help with. The Academy as a Service solution was born out of these needs.”
What are some companies doing to deal with the talent shortage?“Our observation is that companies are opening their own internal capabilities academy, and I am glad to say some of them are powered by Elevation's Academy as a Service solution. They are making progress in two main directions. First building talent, meaning re-skilling current employees for new roles. It is easier for someone who knows the company's DNA and culture and has worked there, to shift to a different position internally. Business and Data Analysts are particularly strong candidates for this trend. because they bring a deep understanding of the business and the market. Second, many conduct train-to-hire bootcamps, or buy academies, where the goal is to train junior employees on the company's tech stack and increase productivity from day one.” “Also, companies take on talented individuals with little to no technical background in order to train them to meet their needs, for example- training people with high English skills and a good sales approach to become sales representatives and even taking exact science or engineering degree graduates to become developers,” Snir explained. Which positions are the hardest to fill? Why do you think that? “Due to the mismatch between supply and demand in Israel, as well as globally, companies are struggling in all areas, but in particular with R&D positions. When companies do not wish to hire junior engineers on a long-term basis, they face more difficulties due to a shortage of experienced engineers to fill open positions.” Snir attributed the difficulty to the large growth sprout the ecosystem experienced recently, along with new technological needs from sectors that were considered “traditional,” as well as the desire to hire a “Jack of all trades” for many positions. As for the outsourcing question, Snir noted that Elevation does not, and that “the idea of importing talent is good in the short term, but only if it is accompanied by real actions in the long term to reduce the local shortage of talented workers. In addition, I think the last steps by the Innovation Minister are a step in the right direction. If we want to import real talent we have to deal with all the Israeli bureaucracy on top of the tax breaks, so the process is low-touch and friction-free.” The investors’ point of view - Adi Hoorvitch Lavi director of business development at Poalim Hi-Tech “Poalim Hi-Tech serves startups and technology companies at various stages, as well as venture capital funds. From this point of view, we see the difficulty in recruiting the first few employees in a new venture along with the challenges in increasing headcount in growth companies,” according to Adi Hoorvitch Lavi, director of business development at Poalim Hi-Tech. She noted two main challenges, “one is the lack of employees, and the other is employees' retention. The retention challenge is a significant concern for technology ventures. Companies provide higher salaries, swags, big luxurious parties, and fancy offices, but other companies might eventually outperform them.”