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Five Ways To Identify And Retain Fantastic Talent With Jeremy Rovinsky And Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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I wish more people in leadership positions would internalize the idea that they themselves ultimately benefit from treating others with respect.

Millions of people can benefit from learning how those involved in the hiring process think and operate. Of course, HR professionals can learn a lot from one another as well. The goal of this particular series is to aid HR leaders in their hiring and retention strategies, as well as to teach prospects what hiring managers actually look for.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field about their five ways to identify and retain fantastic talent. Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeremy Rovinsky.

Jeremy is Dean & General Counsel of National Paralegal College. He has been admitted to practice law in a number of jurisdictions and has been published in multiple law journals and academic publications. Jeremy has taught Advanced Legal Writing and Advanced Property at an ABA-accredited law school, helped update the Rules of Professional Conduct for an American Indian Community Court, and served as a Judge Pro Tem for the Maricopa County Justice Courts. Jeremy graduated with honors from The George Washington University Law School.


Thank you so much for doing this! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My pleasure! After I graduated from law school, my wife and I moved to Israel, where I was working with an Israeli firm and operating my own law practice. I always wanted to clerk for a judge, and was offered a clerkship at the Court of Appeals in Phoenix. As I was clerking, I was in the right place at the right time, and met a friend’s brother-in-law, who worked at National Paralegal College. He told me the college was opening a graduate school, and I expressed interest in teaching. He was impressed with my clerkship, and offered me the opportunity to teach the graduate school’s first Constitutional Law class. One class led to another, and when my clerkship was coming to an end and I was interviewing with law firms, the school extended me an offer to become a full-time school administrator. I began as Dean of the graduate school, and eventually became Dean of the entire school.

Can you share the most interesting or funny story that happened to you since you started this career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’ve served as an Adjunct Law Professor at a local law school. On the first day of one class, I got a bit of a cold reception, as I was one of the youngest people in the room; one student even told me, “You are really young for a law professor.” I just smiled and responded that at the time I already had 4 kids. By the end of the class, I received overwhelmingly positive student feedback. It made me appreciate how we should never judge someone just by their outside appearance!

Are you working on any exciting new projects at your company? How is this helping people?

We recently launched a new project, LawShelf.com, an Educational Media subsidiary company. It is very exciting because it’s mission is to demystify the law and present short, high-quality videos covering relevant legal topics for the public. I am also a big fan of the specific micro-credentials in the form of digital badges that LawShelf offers to people who complete the video-courses in specific areas of law.

Congratulations on the new project! Let’s now jump to the main focus of our series. Hiring can be very time consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill? Please share an example for each idea.

  1. Social media and online footprint. I want to see if a person has a Linkedin page with a professional picture and relevant credentials. I also look to Facebook and Twitter to make sure the person has not publicly posted inappropriate things. You would be surprised what people post!
  2. Evaluate enthusiasm. I get a lot of resumes from attorneys who want to teach our legal courses. When I receive an impressive resume but don’t have an open position, I encourage the applicant to remain in contact. Some do, and some don’t. I just recently hired someone who kept on my case — and it paid off!
  3. Connections. It is a big help if I see that the person has a shared connection on Linkedin, or knows someone within my organization. A resume will only show so much, as will a 15-minute in-person interview. It means a lot more if a colleague or friend can vouch for a candidate. My organization has hired friends and family members of good employees as positions opened.
  4. I try to assess if I (and my colleagues) will enjoy working with the person. Your job is not your primary social network, but, at the same time, you spend the majority of your waking hours with your colleagues, so I try to hire people who will bring positivity and friendliness to the organization.
  5. Collaboration. If I like a candidate, I will walk him or her around the office and introduce to my colleagues. After the interview, I will ask my colleagues for their feedback. Often they can spot things that I didn’t see, or they can confirm the feelings I had.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are the top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

  1. Word-of-mouth. You would be surprised how much this is still relevant in our Internet age. It is not uncommon for people to reach out to me and say that they heard that my school is a great place to work.
  2. Online presence. We maintain an active Facebook page, where the general public can see relevant posts about legal developments. I think it helps build our brand while providing a beneficial service for the public.
  3. Network. I meet great people at conferences and while doing side-jobs, such as teaching at law schools as an adjunct and serving as a Judge Pro Tem. When I tell people that I am Dean of NPC, often there is a lot of interest to learn about teaching opportunities.

What are the 3 most effective strategies used to retain employees?

  1. BE KIND. Care about the people you work with and supervise. It goes a very long way.
  2. Show appreciation!
  3. Invest in people. If someone needs training, help them get it. Learn what makes your people happy, and try to deliver in a tailored way.

In your experience, is it important for HR to keep up with the latest trends? Can you give some examples of what this looks like?

Definitely. I believe the major trends are generational. As more millennials move up the corporate latter, and Gen-X and Gen-Y enter the workforce, it is important to understand how they think and what they really want. In general, millennials want to make a lot of money, and also do something they deem meaningful. The younger generation entering the workforce generally requires more constant positive feedback and compliments, as well as flexibility. If you can figure out what your people want, and deliver it, they will reciprocate.

Can you give an example of a creative way to increase the value provided to employees without breaking the bank?

Think about “intangibles” you can offer. Can you offer increased flexibility? Professional development? Small things that can make the office a more fun and welcoming place to be?

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I wish more people in leadership positions would internalize the idea that they themselves ultimately benefit from treating others with respect.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Rav Yitzchok Hutner is reported to have told a student of his: “Regardless of what you hear quoted in my name, do not believe it unless I have told it to you personally.”

I try to remember this quote when I indirectly hear things about others, or someone claims that someone else said something. Always go directly to the source! Often a person’s statement, or intentions, were taken out of context.

Some of the biggest names in Business, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

Nikki Haley. I have so much appreciation for how she represented the United States at the United Nations, and love her elegance and refinement that she brings to the public discourse. Our country is so broken right now, and I think she may be able to build bridges and bring different types of people together.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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