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Good People Are Hard to Find (Even in a Recession)

This is going to blow your mind (at least it blew my mind). We need a new employee in our Charlotte office. We ran an ad last week on careerbuilder. I’ve provided the full text of the ad below. We had 476 applicants within five days and more are coming in every hour.

Here’s the ad (I’ve highlighted the important part in red):

Full Time Administrative Assistant/Paralegal

Rosen Law Firm seeks Full Time Administrative Assistant in our Charlotte, North Carolina office.

Our firm strives to employ professional, ambitious people with high energy who embrace new challenges. This job demands the ability to handle responsibility with little supervision. This position will be filled quickly. We are ready to bring the right candidate on board immediately!


* Answers phones, greets & seats clients
* Scan documents and handle document management within client database
* Manage office supplies
* Make courthouse runs
* Draft court documents
* Taking payments and bank deposits
* Serve as back up point of contact for potential client calls and other administrative duties as assigned.


* Bachelor’s degree
* Excellent communication, organizational and interpersonal skills
* Detail oriented with strong phone presence
* Proficient in Microsoft Office applications, basic understanding of Office Operations
* Experience with QuickBooks
* Must have a willingness to interact with our clients on a daily basis
* 80% of this job will be Administrative work and 20% will be legal assistant related duties
* Desire to innovate and an enthusiasm for change
* Ability to build strong and sustainable relationships and an aptitude for dealing with people at all levels of the organization
* A strong history of personal and professional growth
* A positive, big-picture, long-term perspective
* A history of exercising initiative and taking responsibility
* Work schedule expectations: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday and additional, hours as needed. At least one Tuesday night per month, you would be required to stay late.


* Competitive salary
* Company paid health, life, dental and vision, insurance
* 401(k) match
* Three weeks paid leave with additional time each year
* Annual salary review and evaluation.


Please email your (1) resume, (2) cover letter and (3) salary requirements to the address listed, in this posting. Please attach a (4) link to a video posted on (or any other video hosting site) in which you answer the question – “Why would you be good at this job?” Please provide an (5) email address and (6) your availability during the next two weeks for an interview. Any application submitted without these six elements will not be considered. ABSOLUTELY NO PHONE CALLS.

Of the 476 applicants we had 7 that fulfilled all 6 of the requirements. One of the 7 didn’t have a Bachelor’s degree. She was eliminated (probably a mistake we ought to fix). Less than 1.5% of the applicants followed the instructions. How is that possible?

Maybe some potential applicants are bothered by the video requirement. We can assume those people didn’t apply. I am aware of the exposure we create by requiring a video, but we decided it was worth the risk.

I can only assume that the vast majority of the applicants failed to read the entire ad or that they are incapable of following the instructions.

I’m tempted to go back through the resumes and find some other candidates that look good on paper. There are plenty of them. But I now know that they don’t follow instructions well. Following instructions is an important part of the job we seek to fill. Wouldn’t it be insane for me to consider the other 400+ people after they failed to comply with our request?

This experience is really depressing. I just can’t believe it.

I’ll be interviewing most of the people that followed the instructions later today. I hope to find an excellent candidate. I’ll let you know.

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  • Diane Levin

    Lee, I’m a big fan of this outstanding blog and appreciate the helpful tips on practice management and marketing. Interesting post here – and shocking to consider the slim percentage of applicants who failed to follow directions. You’re right, that’s depressing.

    But I have to say I was struck by your video requirement. Might you inadvertently be barring the door to superb applicants? Not everyone possesses (or in these tough economic times can afford) a video camera or the know-how to upload videos to the web. Many people looking for work, too, have given up high-speed internet access as well.

    Additionally, might your policy inadvertently disadvantage someone in a particular age group? What about the cultural impact of this policy – is it culturally sensitive? And what of people who have reasons to protect their online privacy – victims of domestic violence for example who might leave themselves vulnerable, posting a video of themselves to Youtube? These are all questions that occur to me.

    I do appreciate the importance of ensuring that qualified candidates respond. And I would ask you, what purpose does this particular requirement serve? And is there an alternate way to fulfill that purpose and avoid barring the way to qualified applicants?

    Thanks again, Lee.

    • Lee Rosen


      Great feedback. Thanks.

      I buy the domestic violence point. I suppose they could password the video and we could have specified that in the ad. Good point.

      With respect to “superb” applicants, I wonder if they would really be very good if they couldn’t overcome the video requirement. If they can’t figure out a way to borrow a webcam, a cell phone camera or something then I don’t feel that they are sufficiently resourceful to be considered. Same goes for age – my 72 year old mother is an avid internet user. I’m confident she could figure out how to get a video made and posted. If you can’t handle the technology you won’t last 10 minutes in our firm. We are paperless, all work requires a computer and even our phones require a computer for the user to answer. If they can’t pull off a video, a relatively trivial technical act, they will drown here.

      I’m not sure I “get” the culturally sensitive part of your comment. Help me out with that one if you will. The last thing I want to do is be insensitive about anything. The applicants that did make videos were an incredibly diverse group from an age, gender, economic situation, and race standpoint.

      I’m open to an alternative way to figuring out if they are resourceful, technically savvy and willing to go the extra mile. Do you have any ideas?

      By the way, the interviews went well and we plan to make someone an offer later today.

      Thanks so much for your kind words about the site. I look forward to hearing more from you.


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Lee Rosen

Lee Rosen has practiced family law for more than twenty years. With four offices, Rosen Law Firm serves Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Rosen served as the Law Practice Management Editor of the ABA Family Advocate for more than a decade and received the ABA James Keane Award for excellence in eLawyering. He served as Chair of the Law Practice Management Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, is a frequent speaker and is often sought out by the media as a source of family law insight and commentary.