I read on Matzav.com 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.