As a newly certified paralegal, you’ve got the education you need to become a valuable part of firm, but what about your skills? Read on to discover what tools you need in your chest to land your first job.
Being a new paralegal can be a little tough when it comes to employment because while you have the knowledge, you don’t yet have the experience. Certification is definitely a competitive advantage in the job pool because it signals to potential employers that you’ve received an education and are committed to the field, but prospective employers will want more from you.
Read on to discover what else employers look for in newly certified paralegals so you can get yourself in the best position for a job before you even send out your resume.
Many paralegals juggle multiple jobs and cases at once, and the attorneys completely depend on that work to be completed on time to do their own jobs. Therefore, the ability to prioritize tasks is an absolutely vital skill for a new paralegal to have and one that you may not have learned from your paralegal training, no matter how comprehensive it was.
Think about how you prioritize and multitask in your life now. If there’s room for improvement, make the effort to get better at identifying task importance because you’ll need to bring this skill to the table to succeed as a paralegal.
As a paralegal, you will be communicating with others on a daily basis. This could come in the form of speaking to clients and witnesses, contacting people for research, scheduling court appointments, and special tasks your attorneys need you to complete. Strong, clear verbal and written communication skills in these fields are simply a must, so work on getting yours as sharp as possible whenever you can.
Technology in general has become more prominent over the last decade in just about every industry, and the legal field is no exception. As a paralegal today, you’ll be expected to master databases, spreadsheets, court e-filing, software for presentations, and more. If you’re designated as a person to make or influence the firm’s tech decisions, making the right choices can help your firm and boost your own marketability in terms of accomplishments.
You will have learned some programs and developed particular tech skills as past of your certification, but since the tech world moves quickly, you should consider continuing education in this area so you can stay at the top of your field.
Paralegals are often the face the firm is presenting to clients and the world. Because of this, professionalism is a prized skill in any paralegal. You will be judged on your professionalism as soon as you walk in the door for an interview, so always be ready to put your best foot forward on that front.
Working Your Way Up
If you’re having some difficulty finding a job in this competitive field despite getting your paralegal degree online and having the proper skill-set, try getting an internship or lower position, such as a clerk, in an established firm. Both avenues will allow you to add some experience to your resume, and you may be able to work up from an unpaid or lower position to paralegal if you do well.