When you are looking to land your first paralegal position, it is important to know that there are certain characteristics that most lawyers and law firms are looking for in paralegals. First, the easiest way to get your first paralegal position is to get your foot in the door as a receptionist, file clerk or project assistant so that those lawyers can see first-hand that you have the characteristics they are looking for. Here are three suggestions for landing that first paralegal position:
1. Always be improving.
Every employer wants an employee that is willing to constantly be improving themselves. These are the people that are going to be looking for areas where they are lacking and are going to take careful steps to make sure that they are learning those skills that make them more marketable. If you are looking to advance your career, start by making a list of the skills in which you are proficient and a list of the skills where you could use some work. Start expanding on your skills before you even get back into the job market.
2. Be technologically proficient.
It is no longer enough just to know how to use a word processing program and how to use email. When you are tech-savvy, you are a much more attractive paralegal candidate to employers in the legal industry. When you are proficient in technology, you shoot to the top of every lawyer’s list when they are looking for a new paralegal.
3. Get free experience.
If you have the opportunity to work as a temp, do a little contract work, or help out at a charity or non-profit that needs some paralegal assistance, you will be getting experience and maybe even learning about a specialty that you otherwise would have had to pay tuition to learn. In addition, all of these types of work look great on your resume.
April 2020 Update: We hosted a free Resume Writing Workshop for paralegals who have been affected by the recent law firm layoffs. You can join our free Paralegal Job Search Series here. In this series, we’re starting with the paralegal resume and then holding sessions on drafting cover letters, getting a LinkedIn profile, and preparing for interviews.