Apart from pure luck, job hunting can be a real grind, and it’s always hard to see what to do from within the job hunt. Paralegals can be found in a variety of settings, but how do you find the best one for you as quickly as possible?
Three words: Network, network, network.
Below are ten tips for making the most of your job search. You’ll find that most of the advice is for tapping resources you already have access to but may not have considered.
1. Join the Chamber of Commerce
First thing first – if you’re trying to gain a professional foothold in any area, it’s a good idea to join the local Chamber of Commerce. You can be as involved as you’d like, but attending some events and making contacts with lawyers and other professionals who use lawyers.
If nothing else, the Chamber of Commerce is a great first step into a solid career.
2. Join a Paralegal Group
After joining your Chamber of Commerce, ask around (or google) for professional organizations relating to your goal career.
Many cities have paralegal organizations that you can join and are an amazing resource for networking and career leads.
3. Ask Your Professors
If you’ve recently completed your paralegal coursework or certifications and are planning to work in the same area in which you studied, your professors could be great resources for pointing you toward firms that need your help.
They may have direct contact with decision-makers or be able to write letters of introduction. If all else fails, they can always write letters of recommendation for when you find your own interviews.
4. Speak With Friends & Family
You might be surprised to find that your friends and family could be your best-untapped resource. Most of them have probably used legal services in the past and may have established a good professional relationship, either personally or through their own jobs.
You should feel free to ask around and see if they can put you in touch with a lawyer or firm who could use a paralegal that comes well-recommended.
5. Connect Through Business Contacts
Speaking of jobs, you should consider contacting old bosses or company owners that you’ve worked with (or befriended) in the past. Most companies retain legal services, and middle/upper management often interfaces with lawyers, legal aides, and paralegals.
In the same manner as friends and family, these business contacts might go a long way in helping you get a foothold in your career.
6. Utilize Former Classmates
Again, concentrated networking can make or break your job search.
Contacting former classmates, especially if enough time has passed for them to find positions of their own, can help you find opportunities and openings that you otherwise may not have found.
7. Utilize Employment Agencies
Networking will bring your greatest rewards, but there are many employment agencies that may help lawyers find paralegals for their practice.
Reach out to them and see if they represent legal services companies in your area. Even if they don’t, it never hurts to ask for recommendations for where to continue your search.
8. Target Companies Directly
One method that has found many people’s success is a more targeted approach. Research potential employers in the area, regardless of published openings, and find ones that are the best fit for you.
Once found, see if you can find a point of contact within the company or firm who can make the decision to hire you. Send a letter of introduction stating who you are and the value you’d bring to the job. Let them know to expect a resume and cover letter on a certain date, and send that in as well. Follow up with a phone call to discuss your interest further.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s the best way to find unpublicized needs and beat the competition before they even know the opening exists.
9. Contact Local Courts
This is a bit of a long shot, but many smaller courts have receptionists and court clerks who may be able to give you an idea of the most active lawyers or law firms and point you in the right direction.
It is possible that the courts themselves might need assistance as well.
10. Build a Personal Resume Website
Finally, we recommend a personal resume website. This does a few things – it acts as an always-available business card, it’s shareable when one of the many contacts you built above wants to put you in touch with a potential employer, and it shows how motivated and serious you are about going above and beyond.
We’ll be covering how to set up such a website in the near future in case you don’t already have the skills necessary, or are not sure what to do.