Readers’ Matzav: Helping People Find Jobs


cubicleDear Editor@Matzav,

I read on of the need to hire frum people through the Emergency Parnossoh Initiative. I wanted to help, as I have B”H an excellent job as a legal secretary. Our firm has over 100 attorneys in midtown Manhattan and is a very professional environment. Our Human Resources Manager asked the staff to help recruit secretaries as we had two openings. So I posted the jobs on two websites, one in Teaneck and the OU job board.

Two of the resumes showed light legal experience. The skills listed were not advanced. I think these candidates should start at a small firm and work their way up.

But another resume was substandard. She used the word “stuff” in her resume, as in she filed “stuff”. There were grammar mistakes. And there was no legal experience.

My father asked me, “These are smart girls. Can’t they learn on the job like you did?” Good question. The problem is that legal software has become so complex that a new person would need to be taught how to use it. And if I have to stop and teach a new person, I am not being productive, I can’t do my job. We simply can’t hire someone who is not highly skilled in the very sophisticated legal programs that are used nowadays. We used to have a trainer just to teach the secretaries how to use the software.

Also, we work for 4 or 5 attorneys each. We need a secretary who has the skills to be off and running right away.

So unfortunately I couldn’t forward these resumes to my Human Resources Manager. I just couldn’t, I knew they were not sufficiently skilled.

Then I accidentally met a woman I knew by sight, we recognized each other. She had been a legal secretary at a major firm for 12 years, but two years ago she was laid off among 130 people at her huge firm. She was very worried about finding a job; she told me she was praying. She was Italian Catholic. I immediately mentioned the openings at our office. She took down the information and right away sent her resume and cover letter, copying me. She had 30 years total experience as a legal secretary and administrative assistant. Her resume was perfect. Her cover letter was clear and articulate, without a single grammar or spelling mistake. My manager by then had filled the position, but when I told him about this woman, he said if he had another opening he would call her in for an interview.

The purpose of my letter is to urge all educators, parents, and anyone who cares about parnassoh, to make sure your children have an excellent English education so they make a positive impression on employers and can get a job. This is a terrible deep recession, and frum people are competing against professionals like the Italian legal secretary with loads of experience and excellent education. She also continued her education later on with a college degree from Fordham, a high quality Catholic university. This is what your children are up against. They won’t have a chance unless they have perfect English and professionally put together resumes which reflect substantial experience.

And their experience has to be of high quality. Working for one CPA in a small office in Brooklyn does not qualify you to work for 5 attorneys in a fast paced large Manhattan law firm where you need to know Excel, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, InterAction, Styles or MacPac – computer programs we use daily. A top notch person can be accommodated for Shabbos and Yom Tov. But not a person who is lacking essential skills.

I don’t mean to discourage people from working for law firms. I started by temping at smaller law firms and worked my way up. But the challenges posed by this recession do not compare to what it was like years ago when I started. Now so many highly qualified people are out of work that you must be a superstar to get an interview.

E. P.

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  1. Very well-written and timely piece when so many have been laid off. Often in our community the girls (and certainly the boys)are very sheltered and have no experience or preparation for the real working world. What may pass as sufficient information for a local office probably will not pass muster in a position such as the one for which you had an opening. I think that there are resources, from the OU Job Board and other organization that teach job-seekers how to write remumes and cover letters. If people are serious about getting good jobs, they must prepare themselves professionally.
    A six-month course in proper English syntax and grammar would also serve them well.
    Thank you for posting this. I am aware how prevalent your experience is.

  2. Great reading, however the Eibishter is the one to help and find each and everyone of us Parnosa. Yes you must be educated but many find the job and learn on the job training.May the right job be found by the ones looking and may the economy get better for all of us.We must all daven a little harder not for only ourselves but for others as well so that we bring the Geula Sheleyma speedily in our time.

  3. At the very least, find someone who knows English and has some resume writing experience and get some help writing your resume

  4. Ms. E.P.: With all due respect, how in the world are you comparing a person with THIRTY years worth of legal expertise to a young graduate??? ThatÂ’s your best analogy??

    Any firm or employer that opts to hire a woman who must be at least FIFTY is not looking for a 20 yr-old for that position. And any employer hiring a 22 year-old is not looking for a 50 yr-old.

    Its the same students of Rahm Emanuel spewing the same stuff all the time. Utilize a crises to push your agenda of modern orthodoxy.

    Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting!

  5. I think this is an extremely relevant submission.Based on the person’s input,young people should try to get a broad-based set of skills that go beyond basic knowledge in areas like accounting. In today’s world, people need to have superior writing, analytical and comprehension skills and therefore people should be discouraged from trying to get “quick and easy” degrees in favor of a more rigorous education.

  6. As we are trying to start a org. That will help peole find jobs please let us know of any openings. We are also looking for people that can write resume’s for others if you think you can help please let us know at
    Thank you and ???? ????? to all

  7. Absolutely…right on…Sometimes it shames me to read some of the comments on these websites.The English and Grammar are absolutely unacceptable. We do not give the(boys)kids an appreciation of their English curricular. How are they supposed to earn a living without even knowing the most basic English skills.
    I sent my kids to schools and the English is highly neglected and made to feel like it is something you just push by. There are no High Schools….hardly elementary. They are happy to get by knowing how to sign your name and some small math.
    I appreciate you making us more aware, however, I don’t think it will help in the overall….we must change the mindset…and remind people that earning a living in a country such as ours, the USA, requires knowing the spoken language and at least require basic skills.
    There are bh many clever people who, I know, have learned on the job. We are a bright nation with “gitte kep”, but we still have to roll along with the technology and have some idea of what we are doing to begin with.
    Thanks for the post.
    Hatzlocha to all who are looking for a job….get educated….learn to read and write properly….it could only help you in the long run.

  8. To Anonymous

    Having good writing and technical skills does not make you Modern Orthodox

    I have two children learning in Kolel full time with their wives proudly working to supprt their learning . At some point they will have to join the workforce (they are not Chinuch material) and will need the skills to compete
    I expect that they will still remain Bnai Torah and raise a Yeshivishe family

  9. Agree with the idea that lots of people don’t take secular studies seriously, and unless someone hooks them up with a job, they have almost no chance when competing with people who have been taking their studies seriously.

    The parents must demand that their kids and their kids’ schools no longer treat English as a joke.

  10. It is very sweet of No. 2 to say the Eibishter is the one that gives parnassah. But what have you really added to this converstaion. NO ONE questions that. But here are two resumes that I received from Master degree graduates.
    1. Question: Why did you leave previous job? Answer I became ‘precnint’.
    2. Were you ever promoted in previous job? Answer There was a ‘vacyoom’ so they promoted me.
    These are NOT exagerations. The misspellings and the lack of simple proper english is mind boggling since these people carry masters degrees. Idon’t want to compare whether the non jewish world is better or worse. Just read the letter that was written carefully. He has many many valid points.
    and YES everything is Min Hashomayim. But thats not the issue.

  11. To Asher: Yes, I see my parnossoh definitely from Hashem. That is why I want to help others with what I have learned. I was born with certain abilities and I had an excellent education at a Bais Yaakov that emphasized basic English skills. This I am grateful for. I was fortunate to be born into a family where my father emphasized earning a living and being self sufficient. My father was both Shomer Mitzvos and industrious in his job. As a result, we children always had bread on the table.

    Thank you to everyone for their comments.

  12. Do we all recognize it as so ingrained into the fibre of the self-entitled amongst us that any serious parnassa enterprise is crippled from the start?

  13. All these people who are responding by criticizing the letter and supporting this 20 year old girl, simply never ran a business, and are speaking theoretically.
    This 20 year old who couldn’t spell or speak will be the exact same way at 50. I hire 20 year olds and 50 year olds. Believe me its pure Ge’hakteh. (and the less they know the bigger the chip on the shoulder)

    Bottom line that all workers have to understand. The only way the worker has a job (Obviously Bisyato Dishmaya) is if the Owner makes money. “The more money the more jobs”. This is something that people simply do not want to understand. Oh by the way, and yes. The owner will go to Eretz Yisroel and Florida while you may not be able to. Thats why he works like a dog the remainder of the year and takes all the risk he does. If you feel you could do the same . Gezunt Ahait. (Your envy,jealosy and walking around grumpy also kills a business

  14. To Anonymous (9:40AM),

    So according to you, one doesn’t need any trayf, secular knowledge or even the ability to communicate properly to land a secure, high-paying job. Anyone that says otherwise is MO and fighting against the Torah.

    Just curious: what exactly do you do for a living?

  15. to all those that knock this letter are probably supported or are on every program their is. the question is who filled out the forms for you.
    I work in the real world and I can tell you that it is a “busha” what is going on with our illiterate youth. they can’t spell, they can’t read and they can’t speak two sentences. it is embarrasing the way they speak.In the work world you can’t be totally unprofessional and expect to be hired. Why in Europe do the frum people learn how to speak the language of the land and learn to read and write while in America we are too frum. believe me they are just as frum as us just alot smarter and alot more practical.

  16. I am someone that worked for a very prestigious lawfirm, CRAVATH, right out of H.S. I was there for 5yrs. Then went on to raise a family. I have learned computers. I am presently working in a medical office for the past 8 yrs. Would love to connect w/you. I am looking very much to return to the legal profession and am seeking advice. Can you connect w/me? My email is My phone # is 646-644-5058 (daytime) or 718-377-5058 (eve.). Looking forward to hear from you.

  17. You describe the spelling of people with masters degrees as ignorant. The question is whom did they pay to work for their masters degree. Believe it or not thats one way to get a masters degree.

  18. EP thank you for your amazing article, and for Matzav for printing it! Yes, we all have siyata dishmaya that H’KBH gives us our parnassa, BUT, we have to do our hishtadlus and work hard in school and try to get the best education possible. We must continuously go on different courses and review, and strive to reach higher goals. Parents have to ensure that girls and boys have proper English studies, with correct grammar and punctuation.
    Yes, we have a “Yiddishe gut kop”, but, we are living in extremely hard, and difficult times. There was a time when you could learn some things on the job and move on. An employer is breaking his neck to stay in business, and will not take a trainee, he wants the best.
    Hatzlacha to all who are looking for work, and in all that we do always. Amen!

  19. I have seen some that pride themselves in not speaking proper English, as if it makes them too modern/goish. If someone wants to be stupid, so be it, but just don’t come to me later asking for a handout when you proudly put yourself in poverty.

  20. #8 thank you.This is not a essay. Written in haste. My comment was a general one, not a personal one. I don’t know who you are, but your middos are lacking, and I’d rather be lacking in English than in middos…your comment had your slip showing…
    P.S. I have been published…have you?

  21. I agree with the previous comment that one should not seek one of the “shortcut college degrees”. However, we cannot change the mindset in the yeshivas we can only change what we do with our children. Unfortunately we tell our children you can’t go to a secular college because you’ll become influenced..and all these horrible things will happen. It’s improtant to remember that our children will one day have to work with the “evil” goyim. Children will one day be adults and have to work with different kinds and types of people. Prepare them now and not when they’re 25 when they might be in a challenging situation and might be tempted. Talk to your children, allow them to read books and discuss some of the themes and differences to our beautiful life. Yes, shelter them but guide them too even if means preparing them for the secular world. I know my viewpoint is very unpopular!

  22. No. 27: Your viewpoint is popular with me! My sister’s children attended chassidishe schools where the boys remained functionally illiterate in English. They are unemployable in the outside world, which seems to have been the intention. My sister’s youngest only began reading in 7th grade. He has no knowledge of science, history, or civics. He doesn’t even know how many states are in the Union. These secular subjects are off limits in the cheders. My adult niece told me recently, “I’ve given up on her local schools. I’m going to teach my Yankele English at home.” My niece, when she was 9 or 10 in the Chassidishe school, used the word “grief-stricken” in conversation, and her teacher phoned her mother to ask, “Are you allowing your daughter to read English books?” because this word had raised a red flag. My sister said no way, no English books in the home. My sister, however, was raised reading library books as a child and teenager and as a result she has a good vocabulary. Naturally, my niece picked up her mother’s language. This is what is going on.

  23. Very well written.
    For an exercise in illiteracy and infantile writing skills, visit the Coffee Room, where the average Bais Yaakov girl has trouble with the word “coffee”.

  24. The number of people searching for parnosso is overwhelming.
    We need to realize however, that we live in a competitive world. We require skills to be considered for those jobs which are available.
    We have to impress upon our people – men,women,mechanchim and manhigim- thaT acquisition of meaningful skills, usable in the business world is an indispensible requirement.
    Agudas Yisroel/Cope, OU, Young Israel, EPI and many others are able to direct job seekers to institutions and schools ready and willing to teach such skills.

  25. The place to learn job skills is in the elementary and middle school classrom by teaching the 3R’s. This is not being done in yeshivishe and chassidishe schools. So many people are not able to find good jobs because they are not able to express themselves in the language of the country they were born and raised in. By the time you have to look for a job, it’s too late. Start by giving your children an excellent English education. If your English is lacking, there are books in the library for teaching your children these essential basic literacy skills. If your husband doesn’t know English, find a book in the library which teaches adults to read and write and do mathematical computations. Teach your children, teach your husband, teach yourself. Pick yourself up and begin at the beginning. Rabbi Akiva started learning Torah at age 40. That’s exactly what the frum community needs to do now. Start learning English from whatever level you find yourself at, whatever age you are.