Job Placement Strategies for Paralegals by mikeholy


									Job Placement Strategies
for Paralegals

  Cover Letters
  Job Search
Chapter 1

Getting the Job You Want

 The paralegal profession is one of the
  fastest growing fields, so what does it take
  to land the perfect paralegal position?

       1.   Resume
       2.   Cover Letter
       3.   Networking/Job Search
       4.   Interview Skills
Get Ready, Set
 What is a resume?

   Brief overview of your education, relevant work
    experience, and job skill

 What is a cover letter?

   A brief sales pitch expressing your interest in
    the position and highlights your abilities and
    qualifications for the job
Go Find That Job!
 How do I find job opportunities?

   Networking, Newspapers, Cold Calling

 What do I need to know for the interview?

     How to Dress
     What to Bring
     Responses to Potential Questions
     Sample Questions to Ask (yes, you ask too!!!)
Chapter 2:
Resume Writing
 The purpose of your resume is to win an

 Resume = Personal Advertisement

   One interview is granted for every 50-100 resumes
   An employers scans a resume in 10-20 seconds

   Top-half of the first page of your resume is KEY!!
The Purpose of a Resume
 = “Calling Card”
   If the employer likes your resume, you will be called
     for an interview

 Purpose of a Resume:
   Indicates if the candidate meets the hiring criteria
   Covers educational background
   Provides overview of work experience
   Lists contact information
   Provides references

         Your resume will be viewed as a professional
              writing (and proofreading) sample
How Long Should a Resume
 Depends... Depends… Depends…

   Minimal Legal Experience:   1 page
   Extensive Work Experience: 1-2 pages
   Extensive Legal Experience: 2 pages

               No more than 2 pages
   (absent an advanced degree with publication listings)
Hiring Criteria
 Minimal hiring criteria:
   What is the firm looking for?
                                      Paralegal Position
   Large corporate firm seeks paralegal with five years litigation experiencing, preparing
   and drafting pleadings, motions, and discovery. WPM 90.

 Oops, What if you don’t meet the hiring
   Apply anyway!!!

       Employers are looking for a candidate that is a
        “good fit” in their office culture or they may
        have another position for you now or in the
Resume = Writing Sample
   Resume = first impression of writing sample

   A resume should be:

       Clear
       Brief
       Well-organized
       Well-designed
       Error free: NO spelling or grammatical errors

   Proofread
       Obvious mistakes show that you are not detail-oriented

          Have others read and critique your resume
Start Writing Your Resume

  Write a QUICK draft

  Format
      Contact Information
      Objective
      Educational Background
      Work Experience
      Optional: References
Resume Layout
 Key:
   A resume should be clean and easy-to-read

 What education or experience do you have
  that is relevant to a career as a paralegal?
  Such as:
   Research/writing ability
   Management experience
   Interpersonal skills
   Job commitment
Formatting Your Resume
 Use:

     Bullet headings
     Action words
     White space
     Limited pages (1-2 pages)

 Key: Can you scan over your resume in 10
Bullet Headings
 Use bullet headings rather than

 Stan & Hope, Paralegal, Los Angeles, California

              Drafted pleadings, motions, and discovery documents
              Conducted client interviews


 Stan & Hope, Paralegal, Los Angeles, California

             Prepared and drafted complaints, answers, requests for admissions, requests for production,
             interrogatories, and motions for dismissal, motions for summary judgment and other legal
             documents. Responsible for client intake interviews, consulting with clients in document
             preparation, and updating clients regarding the status of their cases.
Action Words

 Action words express action

researched     conducted     presented      identified    analyzed
produced       created       assessed       initiated
prepared       coordinated   investigated   represented
maintained     facilitated   negotiated     established   organized
White Space
 Blank space

 Makes a resume easier to read

   Balance white space with text
Resume Length

 Varies based on experience:
   1-2 pages unless
     Extensive legal experience
     Other related experience

 If resume is continued on Page 2:
                                   Julia Wright
                                        Page 2
Resume Elements

   Contact Information
   Objective
   Educational Background
   Work Experience
   Optional: Reference Listing
Contact Information
    Full name
    Address
    Home & Cellular Phone
    Email Address

                                   Gene Davis, Jr.
    4567 Sienna Heights Road                           cellular   (702) 243-7678
    Summerlin, Nevada 89079                                       (702) 808-7965

Finding An Applicant
It may be more difficult than you think
 Address
   Use a current address
   Check mail frequently
 Phone Contact
   List a number you will answer!!
       List your preferred number FIRST
    Provide a professional message
       Check message frequently
   Don’t provide your current work number
 Email Address
   Create a professional email address
    Don’t use a work email address

  Optional

    No:         To obtain a paralegal position.

    Yes:

    To obtain a paralegal position as a bilingual speaker with experience drafting pleadings,
    discovery, and motions and who offers excellent computer processing skills, including
    proficiency in Windows, Word, Excel 1 & 2, PowerPoint, Lotus, West Law, and
Educational Background

 List paralegal training and other
    Reverse chronological order
 Provide awards, achievements, organizations,
  2007   Paralegal Studies Certificate, University of California, Berkeley
           Coursework in legal terminology, legal writing, interviewing, field investigation, arbitration
          procedures, and legal research
           Legal document preparation including pleadings, discovery, motions and service of process
           Substantive emphasis in Family Law and Business Law
Work Experience
 List relevant work experience
   Reverse chronological order
 Consider transferable job skills
 Employment gaps
   Consider volunteer experience
 Use bullets, not narrative
Narrative vs. Bullets
DON’T use Narrative Form:
Supercuts, Shift Manager                            April 2002 to June 2002

    Having been a manager for this company in Nevada I was able to give support to the
    store manager and maintain business in her absence. I was responsible for managing
    and directing employees during my shift and troubleshooting any occurrences during
    such times. Several of my other job duties included record keeping, balancing the cash
    drawer, and maintaining morale of the shop. During this time I also demonstrated self-
    discipline and client loyalty while continuing to work in Las Vegas.

DO use Bullets:
Supercuts, Shift Manager                         April 2002 to June 2002
     Managed and directed employees
     Responsible for recordkeeping of daily accounts
     Maintained client loyalty by continuing to work in Las Vegas,
Listing References
 References should be:
   Professional/work associates
      References answer “Is Joe a good
   NOT family and friends

 Generally, reserve reference list for
   References are generally not provided on a

 Check with references BEFORE you list them
Chapter 3:
Getting Started with a Resume

 Worksheet items
       Contact Information
       Job Objective
       Education and Training
       Work Experience
       Volunteer Experience
       Optional: Reference Listing (separate

       Provide all dates in reverse chronological
Chapter 4:

Everyone’s an Expert

 Key Resume Drafting Points:
       Keep it short (1-2 pages)
       Highlight strengths (first half of the page)
       Make it look professional
       Provide white space
       Proofread… Proofread… Proofread

       Did you remember to PROOFREAD your resume?
Creative Resume Ideas
 Creative yes, but not necessarily for a law

   A box of chocolates with a resume
   A bouquet of flowers with a resume as the
    gift card
   Singing resume telegram
   Lunch delivered with a resume
   Balloons with a resume attached
Chapter 5:
Introducing Your Resume with a
Cover Letter

  Cover letters introduce you and your

  Cover Letter Basics
     Limit cover letter to 2-3 paragraphs
     Personalize cover letter
     Direct it to the needs of the particular employer

 Cover Letter = Five Second Super Bowl Commercial
Why do I need a
Fantastic Cover Letter?

 Employers look at cover letters

  (1) As an introduction to the resume OR
  (2) After reading the resume to determine how
  this candidate is particularly suited for this job
Step One: Formatting

 Date, recipient’s address, subject line
       April 15, 2006

       Ms. Lisa Ward
       Lye & Wood, L.L.P.
       657 Main Street
       Nowhere, State 89052

                    Re: Paralegal Position

       Dear Ms. Ward,

 Don’t know the hiring manager?
   Call the firm and ask!!!
   Otherwise, address the letter to “Dear Hiring
 Step Two:
 “I am applying for a paralegal

 First Paragraph:

   Tell the reader:
    (1) You are applying for a paralegal position
    (2) Where you heard about the opening
          “Kim Howarth recommended that I contact you regarding a
                  paralegal position available in your office.”

      If you were referred by someone, tell the
Step Three:
Highlight Your Qualifications
   Second Paragraph:
           Highlight your qualifications
                   Identify unique qualifications and skills for the job

  I have experience with client and witness interviewing, field investigation, arbitration procedures, and legal research. I have prepared
  pleadings, discovery, motions, and legal memoranda. In addition, I am proficient in Windows, Word, Excel 1 & 2, PowerPoint, Lotus, West
  Law, and Lexis/Nexis. While working as a paralegal at the law firm of Jacobs & Marley, I received the award for Employee of the month.

           DON’T:
                   Sound desperate, send personal photos, list
                    weaknesses, or lie
                   Re-state your resume
           DO:
                   List significant accomplishments or awards
Step Four:
Close with
Consideration and Commitment
 Closing Paragraph:
     (1) Be complimentary and appreciative
     (2) Ask for further opportunities to
      discuss your qualifications

 Thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing my application. I look forward to
 meeting with you to discuss my qualifications further.
Step Five:

 Sign the cover letter!!!!
    Signature block includes:

  Jane Sullivan
  678 Highland Drive
  Nowhere, State 89078
  (890) 879-9098

 Proofread!!!
    Use spelling and grammar checks
      Don’t make handwritten corrections
E-mail Cover Letters
 Key Points to Remember:

     Use proper capitalization
     Use proper punctuation
     Use proper grammar
Chapter 6:
Making a Good First Impression

 Key Points:
   Personalize your cover letter
   Indicate the position you are applying for
   Highlight your qualifications for the
   Indicate that you will follow-up
   Sign and PROOFREAD!!!

    The first impression is lasting!!!
Chapter 7:

Job Search Techniques

 Where to begin:
      School Postings
      Newspaper Ads
      Bar Association Ads
      Employment Services
Beginning a Legal Career

 First job = “training ground”

   A firm will invest time and money in
    training you in a law office setting and
    this will be reflected in your
    compensation package
Choosing a Practice Area
 Legal practice areas:
   Family law
   Personal injury
   Construction
   Bankruptcy
   Business law
   Immigration
   Real estate
   Estate planning
   Criminal law
   Governmental agencies   and more…..
Martindale- Hubbell
   Attorneys’ Yellow Pages

       Multi-volume encyclopedia of attorney providing:
         Firm address
         Firm and attorney practice areas
         Professional biographical sketch on attorneys
             Includes schools attended, professional associations,
                articles authored, major cases argued, etc.
       Listings:
         By state/city
         Paid listings therefore not comprehensive

Where to Begin
 School Postings:
   Targeted to school’s graduates
   Employers know applicants may not have

 Newspaper Advertisements:
   Excellent Resource BUT
   Long listings with little or no information
     = mailing frenzy
     If phone numbers are listed, call and ask who to
      direct your resume to
 Paralegal & Bar Assoc. Listings
   National Association of Legal Assistants
   National Federation of Paralegal Associations
   State Bar Associations
   Local Paralegal & Bar Associations

 Employment Services
   Temporary and Part-time Employment
       Experienced and non-experienced positions available
    Employer paid NOT employee paid
    Benefits:
         Resume Basics
         Interview Coaching
         Hiring Advocate
         High-end Firms
 Internet Searches
   Search Terms:
     “paralegal employment opportunities”
     “(your state) paralegal jobs”
   Job sites:
 Cold Calling
   Benefits:
     Locate firms in your area
     Select firms specializing in your area of
   Sources:
     Martindale-Hubbell
     Yellow Pages
Chapter 8

Preparing for the Interview

 The interview is your final sales pitch
    You’ve met the employer’s minimum hiring
    Your resume/cover letter has sparked the
     employer’s interest

 What is the purpose of an interview?
    The employer wants to meet the job applicant
    Determine if s/he will fit within the office culture
Job Interview Pearls

   Research the Law Firm/Office
   Dress Professionally
   Bring the interview essentials
   Be prompt = 10 minutes early
   Write a thank-you note
Research the Law Firm
 Sources:
   Martindale-Hubbell
   Internet search

 Purpose:
   Background information on
   Determine practice areas
   Consider the firm size
   Source of interview answers/questions
Dress Professionally
 Law firms are generally conservative
   Issue: Am I portraying a professional
    image for the firm?
     Dress Professionally =
        Men: dark suit, tie
        Women: suit, low heels, no perfume

  These recommendations are not “one size fits all,”
      it just may take longer to find a job if you
                 think“out of the box.”
What to Bring

 Interview Essentials:
   Resume: 3 copies
   Reference List -- 2-3 references
     Names/Addresses/Contact Numbers
     Professional Associates
   Pen & Legal Pad
   Writing Samples
   SILENT cell phone
Be Prompt

   Be Prompt
   Be On-Time
   Be Early
   Be Professional
   Plan for Emergencies

            Don’t be Late!!!!!
The Interview

The interview begins when you walk into the office

 Dont’s:
      Chew gum
      Smoke
      Eat
      Talk on your cell phone
      Be impatient with the receptionist
Ice Breakers

 Greeting
   Choose formal (Mr./Ms.) or

 Ice Breakers
   Comment on family pictures, hobbies,
    other items of interest
   Mention any commonalities (“I love the
Zinger Questions
 Tell me about yourself.
 What are your strengths and
 Why do you want to be a paralegal?
 What are your hobbies?
 I notice that your job experience is
 How many children do you have?
 Where do you see yourself in ten
 What are your salary requirements?
Do you have any questions?
   You have considered this job opportunity and would like to
     How many paralegals do you have?
     What are the primary responsibilities of the
      paralegals in the firm?
     Do the firm’s paralegals work primarily with one
      attorney or with several?
     What created this job opening?
     What is your vision for this position?
     Tell me what I need to do to be successful in this
     What is the turnover rate for paralegals in the firm?
     What is the average work week for your paralegals
 Write a thank-you note

=   Professional appreciation
   Immediately after the interview
   Addressed to each interviewer
   Reinforces applicant’s name and
   Proofread….Proofread…. Proofread

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