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If you get a rejection letter that says they might be busy in a few months or indicates that at sometime in the future they could be interested in you, you are looking a potential job in the eye, but not if your eyes are closed. Rejection letters tend to be pleasant, but they also tend to have very standard language that sounds formal. If the letter goes out of its way to offer some hope, or mentions a date in the future at which time they might be hiring, do not ignore it. The Sporadic Job Searcher just throws the letter away. But be creative. As many have been in the past, you can turn that "Nice Rejection Letter" into a positive! First, you log a re-contact on your calendar. Then you act on a response when the date comes up:
Dear Mr. Attorney:
When I wrote to you in May, you indicated that your firm might be looking for a paralegal around the middle of August. I am still interested in your firm and would enjoy meeting with you to discuss your firm's workload as we approach the end of the year. . . .
In attempting to create a picture of success, this text explores the different avenues that successful paralegals use to travel the path to employment. Compared with the Sporadic Disconnected Job Search, the picture is more difficult to draw because of avenues not traveled at all, not traveled well, or not traveled at the right time. Suffice it to say that lack of success can be described in these ways:
Omissions - The outright omission of certain avenues of activity, such as solely utilizing newspaper ads, not calling the school's placement departments, not using direct mail as a tool, not joining professional associations.
Not traveling the avenues well - Some people are simply lax and slipshod in preparing their professional package. They do it, but the quality is off. They make too many basic errors. Note: These people can be helped if they will get job search assistance counseling from their Placement Department.
Avenues not traveled at the right time - In so many aspects of life, timing is everything. It is especially true of the job search. Those who are sporadic tend to time it all poorly. They are a "day late and a dollar short," Many fail at being there early in the quest for advertised openings. Some jobs are filled in 48 to 72 hours. Timing is also essential in follow-up. If you wait too long, you are forgotten. If you harass the next day, you are an annoyance. If you try a direct mail campaign and then do not do follow-up until weeks later, you have lost the value of the direct mail.
Warning: Haste does make waste. A Chinese philosopher said, "Hasten slowly." When you are in the job search, be on time, but do not lose control of the process, such as by making mistakes on cover letters or being overanxious in interviews. Tripping over yourself as you hurry to be correct, on time, just right, can make you err in many ways. Don't hurry quickly; instead, hasten slowly.
The Synergistic Job Search-The Hiring Zone
The synergistic job searcher is always in the hiring zone. The sporadic disconnected job searcher weaves in and out of the hiring zone, with job search efforts that are poorly timed, intermittent, or flawed.
Participating in local paralegal organizations helps you develop professionally with special seminars and expertise garnered from others and lets you access jobs through Job Banks and personal networking. It also highlights your resume by demonstrating that you care about the progress and development of your profession. In addition, you can develop leadership characteristics, practice public speaking, and sharpen your interpersonal skills. A side benefit is the "camaraderie," that is, the sense that you can share your gripes and your exaltations with people who are going through similar circumstances.
Using direct mail can help you discover unknown openings and get interviews in which you have little or no competition. People complain that direct mail is expensive and just a game of numbers, but they forget that if they "strike gold" by getting an interview for an unadvertised opening, they are going through the back door. Direct mail also has the feature of landing on advertised leads too. It gives you a forward momentum and the opportunity to gain a job without having to run through the formal advertised lead process competing with numerous candidates.
Direct mail is the most simple, least appreciated, most magical of all synergistic job search tools. The cost must be considered, but the chief reason it is not utilized is because paralegals do not understand the theory of what they are doing. Most think that direct mail is like a Publisher's Clearing House approach, and your letter begins with "Hello, I am writing to every lawyer in the Western World." Instead, use the following steps to start an effective direct mail campaign:
Mail in small increments of 25 or less at a time to a select group.
Select a group
Craft a letter designed specifically for the select group, so that it does not sound like direct mail.
Do callbacks on your mailings.
Do follow-up mailings on positive responses. Go to interviews.
Repeat this process, group by group, in an organized, well- conceived program. Cover key towns and/or practice areas in a systematic fashion.
Some people like to build their resume and keep their skills honed by doing a free, postgraduate internship. Ten hours per week can fit into a tightly organized job search campaign. Internships push you to stay efficient on your job search campaign and make you feel you are a member of the profession. Getting dressed up in a suit and going to work has a strong, positive psychological impact on you. You don't feel unemployed (with all of its attendant negative ramifications). You also interview with greater confidence when you are asked about what you are doing now. Instead of saying, "I am unemployed and looking for a job," you can say, "I am currently working at Firm XY&Z on an internship to keep my skills sharp." The internship is also a place from which real jobs emerge. People are more likely to take a longer look at individuals. At some paralegal schools, up to half of the internships lead to some kind of temporary, part-time, or full-time permanent work. The internship is a way of getting inside the special world you are endeavoring to enter.
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