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Targeted Resumes-More than One
The truly prepared paralegal about to engage in the effective paralegal job search will have the ability to "stylize" resumes. This is nothing more than taking a basic resume, which should be saved on a diskette, and making adjustments so that a differently targeted resume can be produced within a day.
Let us know about the background of Mirriam Dellahousay:
Legal Secretary/Paralegal at a renowned firm of USA-
In House Attorney! Maintained attorney's calendar, hearing and trial lists, tickler system, filing, deposition summaries. Emphasis in Workers' Compensation, products liability, and personal injury related cases.
Legal Secretary- Workers' Compensation Law.
Dealt with clients, handled word processing, and maintained files. Tickling and scheduling.
COMPUTER SYSTEMS: IBM PC Environment-Word Perfect 4.2, 5.0, 5.1
Microsoft Word, HyperCard, Net way
EDUCATION: -Associates graduation Degree from a reputed college (Paralegal Program)
Worked as a Word Processor and Office Assistant.
Worked for Owner/Manager, handled all duties regarding restaurant management, inventory, payroll, and vendor relations.
Accounting and Word processing, responsible for office management tasks and basic bookkeeping and accounting duties. Given responsibilities by manager of cash deposits and highly confidential financial and legal matters! Dealt with business vendors!
Start with a Basic Paralegal Resume.
Then, by employing an "Objective" at the beginning of the document, state something like: "Seeking a Paralegal Position in an Estates Administration and Probate Practice." This will lead you to a second resume that is only substantively different because it has a targeted objective.
Now you have an Estate Administration Paralegal Resume. A third resume might be aimed at a non-law office environment. Who knows? There might be an advertised lead for a "Document Specialist" in a corporation of which you have never remotely heard. This might be the perfect time for a Nontraditional/Alternative Career Resume.
In this case, you might either bring your past experience to the top of the resume or redo your skills summary to reflect experience in a certain industry or service. Some might just redesign an "Objective" that states: "Seeking a Position in a Corporation Utilizing Legal Training and Business Background."
Some people have resumes for general situations, two for special highly desired practice areas, and another based upon a former back ground. The difference may only be slight, but the targeting has a special effect. It says: "I seriously want this special position."
A young graduate of a paralegal program wanted to do an extensive direct mail program after graduation. Latching on to the targeted resume concept, he came up with three resumes. He was very interested in insurance. He figured his youth and education would assist him in gaining a position that could begin a long career in a large industry. He also wanted to pursue the world of real estate, knowing it, too, covered a world of activity. He also wanted to have a resume that could serve his purpose of applying to "any and all" corporations that might have legally related positions that were not specifically termed "paralegal." The following resumes are targeted. Notice that the Skills section has been "massaged" to point toward the specific area of interest.
His experience is basic and does not change from resume to resume. His education, you will notice, brings out different classes to suit each resume. He has employed the Objective and the Skills creatively so that the recipient sees phrases and buzz words that relate. This is sometimes the edge that an applicant needs to get called in for an interview. Since this young man was also using these resumes for direct mail programs, he was insuring that his investment in time and money would be most effective.
Update Your Resume as Soon as You Get Work
If you secure temporary, part-time, or contract works in the legal field before you get a full-time permanent position, one of your first actions should be to update your resume. What many choose to do is bring the Education Section down to a level below Legal Experience. They lead with experience just obtained and then perhaps insert a paralegal internship underneath it. This is not the only way to handle it, but be certain you update your resume in some way that highlights your new paralegal- related work.
When you update your resume like this, you are showing a viability, ambition, and determination to establish yourself as a paralegal. Some people tend to minimize temporary or part-time or contract experience because it is not their ultimate goal. Minimize it in your mind if you must, but take full advantage of it on your resume. This advertisement is saying: 'This person is flexible. This person wants to work. This person is getting valuable experience. Let's take a look."
The Experienced Resume
The rule of thumb for an experienced paralegal is that work back ground is generally more important than education on a resume. Yes, there are exceptions to all these rules, but experienced paralegals are primarily advertising their professional status. For these individuals, the major shift in the resume is to bring the Education Section down and the Work Experience up to the top of the resume. Remember, vagueness hurts, when elaborating on the job description, the experienced paralegal needs to use specific sentences that are meaningful to attorneys. If you generalize, you might be perceived to be equivocating or embellishing the truth.
Instead of:"Assisted attorneys with discovery and trial prep."
Use: "Handled witness interviews, deposition summaries, organization of trial exhibits, and indexing of all documents produced."
The first phrase would cause a doubting person to question exactly what you did. Specific descriptions are always better than general ones. The potential employer may be looking for a certain kind of experience that you have handled. Some interviews are gained on small items that mean the difference between getting called and being overlooked.
Resume Rules of Thumb for the Experienced Paralegal:
Be sure everything is accurate and truthful. Legal communities are close-knit and smaller than you might realize. Misrepresentations can kill your chances for an interview.
Cover all the experience you had in a certain firm, not just the most recent or most important. You never know what is going to get you an interview, and thus, a job.
Use a Reference Sheet. Have three names on your resume that interested parties can call. It is important that you check with people first and be relatively sure that they will give you a glowing reference. If you have had a "difficult parting" with an individual at a firm, try to get a written letter of reference from someone who appreciated your contributions at that same firm.
Keep the same high standards you employed with your initial resume. A half-hearted, medium-quality resume does not make experience look better. Experience looks better on a beautifully done written advertisement.
So, let us take a look at all that your resume must accomplish. It must first stand out, then stand up to scrutiny, and then stand with you in your interview. A resume that looks great but which does not fit you or which misrepresents you is no good at all. In the interview, the whole package comes together; all elements must work harmoniously together in your bio or oral presentation. That is why your cover letters and resumes should hold you in a laudatory light. Your skills, as described in your resume, should all be drawn so that they are describing a potential working professional paralegal.
You use the resume and cover letter as your "script" to show a package that creates a compelling need to hire, as we stated in the chapter on interviewing. It must be a positive, well-considered, edited document from which you can persuasively interview. The resume is your anchor.