How To Find Paralegal Jobs

So you've graduated from a paralegal training course, whether it is a certificate program, associate's degree program, or bachelor's program. Or perhaps you've got a few years of experience under your belt - but your solo practitioner boss just decided to chuck the law and open a bed and breakfast in Vermont. Now, you must find a job - but not just any job. You want to find the right paralegal position for you.   

It isn't as daunting as it may first appear to be. In fact, you probably have more resources available to you than you might realize. This article will help you conduct your job search and land the perfect paralegal position in the minimum timeframe. 

  1. Prepare your resume . There are literally thousands of websites, books, and resources out there which will help you polish up your resume - including articles right here on Howtodothings.com. Some things to watch out for:  
    • No misspellings. Make sure the resume is grammatically and typographically perfect. Your resume will be the first proof, along with your cover letter, of your skills, so you need to make sure you're not giving your future employer the wrong impression of your typing skills.
    • Readable format and attractive layout. Ensure your resume layout leaves sufficient white space to make reading easier.
    • No fancy stationery or graphics. This isn't the time to show off your skills with clip art. Your resume should convey a professional image, because that's what you are now - a professional.
    • One page only. Edit out information or change the layout if you must, but do not let your resume exceed one page.
    • Active verbs and descriptive language. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Do not, under any circumstance, lie, prevaricate, or exaggerate your qualifications, but do take the time to describe your past experience positively. Use a variety of active verbs, such as: designed, created, accomplished, compiled, achieved, coordinated, organized, supported, presented, increased, established, conducted, Etc.

  2. Research potential employers . Use the Internet to find information on firms, businesses, and governmental groups. This is especially important before an interview. You should be able to talk intelligently about the firm's client base, the types of cases it handles, the business's products or services, the government agency's jurisdiction, and any "hot topics" affecting the employer (such as recent legislation that might impact it, or current events in which it played a part).  
  3. Use, but don't rely on, your local classified ads and websites . The vast majority of available positions in all fields are never advertised. This is true of the legal profession as well.  
  4. Don't forget to call on your career services office . Most educational institutions will have a career services office that exists solely to help their graduates locate jobs. After all, your school looks good when its graduates are gainfully employed! Take advantage of all the office has to offer. Look into workshops on resume preparation, image improvement, researching potential employers, and interviewing.  
  5. Draft a cover letter . Again, there are many resources on the web to help you, but here are a few pointers to keep in mind:  
    • Be specific: No "to whom it may concern" or "sir/madam" openings. Find out who does the hiring at your target firm. Address the letter to him or her specifically.
    • Perfect presentation: No misspellings (especially of names!) or grammatical errors. Use clean margins and an attractive font - Times New Roman is best.
    • What have you done for me lately? Use the cover letter, not to boast of your accomplishments, but to communicate clearly how your qualifications will help the firm.
    • State your follow-up: Tell the addressee that you will call in two weeks to follow up with him or her. 
  6. Keep excellent records of all your contacts . Note the time, date, and content of whatever contact you have with a potential employer, whether it's a resume sent, telephone call made, or chance run-in at the grocery store.  
  7. Think quantity and quality . You need to crack a lot of oysters to find a pearl. The same is true of landing any legal services position - whether you're a lawyer, paralegal, or office administrator. Aim for hundreds, rather than dozens, of resumes sent. But don't simply blanket the legal community with resumes and form letters. Targeted mailings work best.  
  8. Use your contacts . Think beyond people you know from your training program. Ask your family members, parents of your children's friends with whom you're on close terms, or even your spouse's coworkers if they know any attorneys or businesses that might be looking for a paralegal.  
  9. Get involved in community affairs . Look for groups dedicated to causes you already believe in. Don't fake sincerity just to get a job; people will be able to tell and your reputation will suffer as a result.
  10. If you haven't already, join a professional organization and be active in the local chapter . This is an excellent way to stay informed of the latest developments and issues affecting your profession, not to mention an instant network of associates that can assist you. Helpful Tip: Inquire with your membership services departments about career services the organization may offer.  

 

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