I came back to Florida from Israel so I'm one year here. I am legal to work in the US because I'm a citizen, and I'm looking for jobs.

Most applications asks for reference. Unfortunately my only work experience is a job I had in Israel. Listing my previous employer from Israel as a reference is difficult because they don't really speak understandable English and are in a very different timezone.

How can I provide a reference when my only work experience is abroad?

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    Hi Ariel. Thanks for posting here. However this isn't really an advice forum. We are here to answer specific questions about the workplace. "How do I find a job" is not specific enough. If you want to know things like "what kind of references are acceptable in the US', please ask that question, or whatever you specifically want to know. – DJClayworth Jun 26 '15 at 15:54
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    I rewrote the question from scratch to prevent it from getting closed. I am aware that my rewrite is very drastic, but I think it still covers the problem of the original author while now being applicable to a wider audience. – Philipp Jun 26 '15 at 16:09
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    @Philipp Nice edit. – Myles Jun 26 '15 at 16:43

I would recommend you to still list your previous job in Israel as a reference.

It might be hard for the human resources department to confirm the reference, but (depending on the job) many HR departments don't check references anyway or only very sporadically (like doing a search for the company name to verify it exists). Asking for references might be part of the standard procedure, but (depending on the position) candidates being unable to provide any might not even be an absolute exclusion criteria, especially when they are still young and the job doesn't necessarily require experience (everyone has a first job in their lives).

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    And give both email addresses and full phone numbers (including the international prefix) -- make it easy for them to contact them, if they do want to. – thursdaysgeek Jun 26 '15 at 16:38
  • Remember that translation services exist -- for that matter, machine translation is often good enough to communicate the essentials -- and that it's usually possible. To find someone who understands English at least well enough to sanity-check that. It's not at all impossible for an Israeli reference to be useful in the US. – keshlam Jun 28 '15 at 17:24
  • In many European countries, references do not exist as a concept. Especially in the Nordic countries. We simply do not use references in any way. Perhaps in some multinational companies, though. – Juha Untinen Jun 29 '15 at 10:54

I used to work with a CTO who lived in Israel. He could talk to me until 3 PM New York time - after that, he was having his beauty sleep. So calling Israel during (some) business hours can be done. Aside from that, conversations with references can be set up using Skype. As for their poor English, say to your prospective employer to use someone who speaks Hebrew or have your Israeli respond to written questions from HR in writing.

My attitude is that your issue is manageable. So manage it.


Do you have any teachers who could act as references for you? Other than that, the only thing I can think of is doing some volunteer work. Volunteer work doesn't usually require you to have any references (or even a resume for that matter) and you can build strong working relationships with supervisors and other volunteer workers. This can build a resume very quickly; 2 to 4 months of good volunteering at a couple of places and you should be able to get at least three good work references.

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