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First Moves That Lead to Paralegal Job Offers

published February 08, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
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( 2 votes, average: 4.4 out of 5)
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Effective job strategies and "first moves" that get attention are invaluable for some very obvious reasons. It helps to rehearse, though, because looking for a job is the most difficult and arduous task most people can imagine. Public speaking is said to be number one on most individuals' "fear list’’ and being unemployed is most likely number one on their "dread list." (And public speaking during a job search in an interview combines fear and dread.) Losing your job and being unemployed is the thing that most people truly fear as a possibility. Other fears may be visceral and subconscious or may be about sudden physical calamity. But the fear that lives with the populace on a daily basis is the one surrounding the issue of employment.

First Moves That Lead to Paralegal Job Offers

Seen in a more positive light, we can say that humans are made to be busy. As a species, we want to be engaged in some enterprise. Americans tend to define themselves by what they do. Besides answering survival needs and financing American culture's wonderful amenities, getting work of any kind often makes the difference between self-respect and feeling lost. In fact, many paralegals choose part-time or temporary legal employment while they are looking for that "ideal" full-time legal position simply because having a job gives security and experience. Finding employment is plainly our most significant response to the challenge of living, and working "in the paralegal field" gives the worker identity, meaning, and momentum.

Challenging task

The unemployed paralegal job hunter's task is challenging. The professional effort of looking for openings, writing letters, and interviewing is taxing, and the need to be poised and at your best while being unemployed is a constant requirement. In effect, you must be at your best when you really feel at your worst.

Have you ever looked for a job when you had a job? It is a completely different experience. As an employed job hunter, you may not feel fulfilled or you may fear impending unemployment, but you interview with security; you hold yourself with confidence. The expression "relaxed, but alert" really means something to you. Try to look for a job when you have a job. It is a wholly different experience.

But those who are entry level in any profession must start at the beginning. The entry paralegal must start at the entry-level hump. This is the most difficult part of your career. And you face it in the very beginning, for it is now that you must look your best, feel your best, interview your best, and be at your best, overall. Yet it is now that we do not have work and are wondering how to pay our bills. Every night our fears tuck us into bed as our hopes shoo them away and make plans for tomorrow.

Job hunters without employment face a daily challenge to be effective. They must marry their ambition and positive attitudes to effective strategies that work and to plans that are designed for an extended job search. People who can do this will begin with effective first moves, because they have a whole array of activity to bring to the job search playing field.

Full-Time Temp

You must think of yourself as employed when you are looking for a job. You are, in effect, working for yourself. When you look for a job, your employer is you, your paymaster is the future, and your profession is "effective job seeker." In reality, if you are doing it right, you are anything but unemployed when you are "unemployed." If you view this task as an occasional expenditure of your life's energies, your job search will be difficult indeed. Do not view your job as an effective job searcher as that of a "part-time temp"; you will not create enough activity. Do not view your job as a permanent position; that points to days in the unemployment line as your life's work. See yourself as a "full-time temp."

Winning Job Search Strategies with strategies and plans for an all-out effort, you should be an effective job seeker.
Many job hunters approach the challenge of finding a job with the correct attitudes and a persistent determination to succeed in that role. But why don't we just admit going in that it is the most taxing of all jobs--the job of getting a job is the toughest job. Merely facing that fact with a positive attitude will give you power.

What can we learn from the job hunters who are doing it right? They are working. They have the right philosophy and the right information. They don't look at unemployment statistics or let negative fears slow them down.

The paralegal job hunter is aided by the growth this profession is predicted to continue enjoying, but is challenged by the increased competition of viable applicants. Being educated in a profession as you have been is not enough to gain the entrance you seek to this professional world. There are areas of knowledge and philosophy that are important for each paralegal job seeker to know.

As a professional paralegal job hunter, you must have the "look and feel" of a potential employee; you must approach the prospective employer with the right language and the right image, speaking the necessary meaningful "buzz words." The more you look like the professional that they are envisioning, the less likely it is you will suffer early disqualification. But before we talk about effort, good luck, bad luck, timing, and "striking while the iron is hot," we must address just who you are as a future paralegal.

Proper job hunt

Because the world of law is as diverse as society itself and therefore can utilize many kinds of past experiences, the paralegal profession embraces generalists and potpourri backgrounds. This cuts both ways. The paralegal profession is filled with people with past employment experiences, knowing different interview protocols, different rules for resumes, and different expectations of the job hunt in general. Paralegal graduates need to think about how the legal job search differs from their past experience. Those new paralegals probably need to educate themselves about the professional job hunt itself. In either case, both groups must prepare to mount a proper job hunt based up on the professional world they are attempting to enter, not the one they just left.

Many people are rejected for reasons that would amaze them. Many rejections occur because of a lack of sophistication and understanding, not because they are unqualified or make a negative impression. We all have our particular pride. Some say: "I am a great natural interviewer." Others say: "I do not need lessons on how to write a cover letter." Still others say:

"Just give me the paralegal certificate. I've been writing resumes for ten years, and I just spent $75.00 on this one."
Sometimes we do not equate our transition with our need to develop skills to persuade people that we can be a valuable employee. You are transitioning to a new career, and your job search skills also need transitioning. It is as if we declare: "All right, will admit I need a special education to prepare for this new world, but I won't admit I need special training to enter this new world."

One troubled job hunter said after several interviews had ended with no offers, why she was not getting into the second or third interview stage. When she had been rehearsed for her "bio" (personal story, education, skills, and benefits), she covered her past 15 years she talked about her life as an administrator. She emphasized her supervisory skills, her hiring and firing of personnel, and her ability to direct the working lives of 20 other people. When she was asked whether it did not take tremendous organizational ability, a persuasive personality, and a dedicated work ethic to attain that level of responsibility, she replied in the affirmative. So she should emphasize her skills and stop speaking about her titles. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make in search of paralegal employment.

They forget that entry paralegals will most likely not be hiring and firing, directing other people, and performing duties related to the personnel department. People make these mistakes simply because they have not thought long enough about the differences between the legal world they are hoping to enter and the world they have just left.

Elements of the Job Hunt

Your particular stage in life is not as important as your awareness of the need to use the right vocabulary and have the right approach in the legal job search process. In addition to all the techniques and approaches that are particular to the legal job hunt (which will be discussed in greater detail in the following chapters), there are the invigorating challenges of the job hunt itself. It is in our first moves that the job hunt's success can be foreseen. No matter who you are or where you come from, you must fit into a broad, general category of employable paralegal candidate. A well-placed and effective effort using tried and true first moves and strategies can be very persuasive.

Now let us address those things that affect the "well-placed and effective effort." The following elements can affect your job hunt: Good fortune and bad fortune, number of contacts, you only need one job, and you never know what contact will lead to a job.

Good fortune and had fortune: What is it that makes life exciting but at the same time tough to comprehend? It is the presence and mixture of both good and bad fortune.

When three people have interviewed well, have conducted professional job searches, and are waiting on a Friday afternoon for a phone call, they are all subject to the fortune/misfortune factor. Assuming they all performed equally well, the hiring decision will probably be highly subjective and based upon the subtext of interview drama. It is 4:00 in the afternoon: One receives an offer over the phone. Two get letters in the mail. Fortune/misfortune has determined the outcome.

The natural reaction for the rejected pair is to blame themselves. In fact, there may be no blame to be placed. In the world of the job search, we seem to be only observers.

Elements of the Job Hunt: There is a very positive way to deal with this aspect of the paralegal job search. Who does not want good fortune? Americans are crazy about lotteries for a basic human reason: A part of us, however small and unconscious it might be, wishes for a sudden external act to lift us high above our daily life. The job search and our personal situation blend together to make us wish for an external entity to magically solve all our problems!

Assume for a moment that we are all subject to good fortune and bad fortune at the same rate. (It may not be true, but the truth will not be revealed to everyone's satisfaction in the near future.) If fortune/misfortune occur at a rate that is the same for all of us, then it is easy to see why those who do less are more dependent on fortune. They are counting on the same good results as one who is diligently working overtime at job hunting. It is also easy to see why hard-working, driven job seekers say things like, "People make their own luck." If fortune occurs at the same rate, then in a way we do make our own luck. Other elements of the job search can help you make some of that luck.

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.

published February 08, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 2 votes, average: 4.4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.