Cleaning Up Lawyers

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Author: Melinda Sherwood. Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on March 8, 2000. All rights reserved.

Online Recruiting: Who Will You Miss?

For all the hype around sites like Monster.com, the

computer is still a relatively limited way to recruit employees, says

Neal Rist, vice president of Manchester Inc., an outplacement

firm at 5 Independence Way. "If you’re just scoping people out

based on key words, you may miss someone," he says. "The people

that I work with really think the Internet is going to streamline

and make the job search easier, but I might be a little old fashioned.

What always gets in the way is the human element."

Businesses tend to cripple recruitment efforts further by overlooking

a talented pool of older workers or workers with different job experience,

says Rist, who speaks at the Middlesex Chamber on "Outplacement

on the Information Highway," Wednesday, March 15, at noon at the

East Brunswick Ramada. Call 732-821-1700. Cost: $25.

Although the World Wide Web is an excellent way for companies and

job candidates to find out information about each other, the way human

resource departments are defining jobs does not necessarily work well

with current search engine technology. Rist, who has worked at Manchester

for 14 years and holds a PhD in education from University of Massachusetts,

says that job candidates frequently complain that "key words"

don’t always pull up the right jobs. "Sometimes searchers are

having difficulty finding their niche," says Rist. "There

are some key words or business titles that have different meanings

in different industries. For example, business development in some

cases means sales, but in the pharmaceutical companies that means

people want to interact with smaller companies and to work on products

in the pipeline."

Rely too much on online recruiting, adds Rist, and your company may

eliminate a good number of job candidates who are more comfortable

in the offline environment. "Marketing people are reluctant to

post their resumes because they don’t want to appear to be looking

all over the market," he says, "whereas for engineers, the

Internet is one of the tools that they use on a daily basis."

But the biggest obstacle to recruiting good employees today is not

the labor shortage — it’s a company’s own prejudices about hiring,

says Rist. "The industry, even though people don’t say it, has

a bias against age," he says, "so they’re ignoring a group

of people — people who are over 55. I think it’s across industries.

Certainly, people over 50 or 55 take longer to find jobs, and in my

opinion they represent a good pool of talent."

Then there’s the pool of people who are routinely labeled over or

under-qualified. Here, too, companies need to reassess their hiring

policies, says Rist. "Although every one wants someone with experience

in a particular field, businesses today have to be more open to accepting

people from different work backgrounds and giving the appropriate

training," he says. "We want people who come into a job with

nine out of the nine qualifications, but we don’t put as much into

training anymore, and we don’t take as much of a look at possible

transferable skills. If you don’t have enough people and you’re trying

to fill openings, you’re going to become creative about it — you’re

going to try training, or look at different workforces."

"We may have in mind that someone is overqualified, but I see

many people who are willing to change, willing to do contract assignments,

willing to exchange salary for location or lifestyle," he adds.

"These are older people who really love what they do and want

to continue to do that."

— Melinda Sherwood

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Cleaning Up Lawyers

Fewer lawyer jokes — and fewer lawyers — are

what this group wants. On Friday, March 17, a group of attorneys,

plus others in the Christian Business Men’s Committee, meet to discuss

"The Top Five Problems in the Legal Profession in 2000," at

7 a.m. at the Princeton Hyatt. Call 609-587-0139.

The number one problem for the legal profession, according to Joe

Caracappa, an attorney from Fairless Hills who leads the meeting:

bad image. "I lament what has happened to the profession in some

respects," says Caracappa. "There is a sense that there is

a lot of litigation that is not meritorious or made a whole lot larger

than it needs to be."

But like politicians, lawyers are a reflection of the society they

live in, says Caracappa. "Lawyers aren’t coming from the Soviet

Union," he says. "They come out of the culture where people

are quick to blame other people for their problems."

In Bucks County, where Caracappa lives, the number of law suits has

gone down in the past year — an encouraging sign. Unfortunately,

the number of lawyers in the area — 900 — is almost 10 times

what it was when Caracappa graduated from Penn State (Class of 1973)

and got his law degree from Duquesne University.

Too many attorneys — that’s the legal profession’s second largest

problem, insists Caracappa. "The law schools continue to turn

out new attorneys irrespective of need," he says. "It’s a

business like anything else."

Although Pennsylvania isn’t addressing the lawyer glut, the state

is trying to clean up the profession, says Caracappa, who attends

Crossing Community Church in Newtown. "We are required to get

12 credits in continuing education and at least one credit in ethics,"

he says, "because there was a perception that lawyers are corrupt."

New Jersey doesn’t have any such requirements — yet.


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