There's No Tellin' - Can't Find a Job and Can't Figure Out Why?



If you are not connected to LinkedIn, you are missing one of the most important career tools you can possibly get. KNOW has a group on LinkedIn called, KNOW Paralegals. We have almost 1500 members throughout the U.S.. Canada, Belgium and other countries who share their experiences, thoughts, hopes, wants, dreams and desires.

Several sent me their resumes for review. Other members of the group sent in suggestions - good ones, I might add - and offered to review resumes as well. While the economy has certainly been one contributing negative factor in the ability to land that first position, I found that there were other mitigating factors.

In several resumes I looked at, there were typos, inconsistent grammar and formatting and more.  One woman left off all employment dates and got p.o'd when I said she can't do that.  Another in New York tried to say that he received a B.A. from a community college in California.  Not only do community colleges not give B.A.s, it just happened to be a community college where I had taught. More than one resume spelled Bachelor Degree: Batchelor. The mistakes don't have to be blaring to get bounced but come on, fellas!

Here are 10 tips that might wake some folks up:

 1.   The resume is poorly written and you either don't know it or think it will pass anyway.  After all, Ginny down the street liked it.  You've been using it this whole time.  Most of the resumes that have been sent to me to review are just not up to par.  The problem is, the candidate thinks it's just fine.  Bounce your resume off  someone who is experienced enough with hiring and can tell you the truth. 

 2.  Your location.  Some people are simply located in areas that are traditionally difficult for entry-level paralegals such as Louisiana or still suffering from the mass destruction of the recession.  Find out how others got their jobs. It's done.  People are working.  Someone found the magic key.  There's one for everyone.  Go find the person with the magic key and make nice.  They will be thrilled to share their success with you and possibly help a fellow colleague.  That's why they made Starbucks.

3.  Not really trying.  Oh? You say you are?  I'd really scrutinize that if I were you. Some people would have you believe they are really trying to find a job.  However, if you review their attempts, they really didn't spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week seeking a job.  In fact, they got very discouraged after one or two rejections or not hearing back from a resume submission.  Or, they send the same resume over and over and over to the same employer hoping something will change.  Resumes do get trashed simply because they've been around way too long.

4.  Salary requirements are too high.  Most paralegals, believe it or not, never checked to find out how much entry level salaries are for the city or town they live in.  They heard a national average or just didn't think about it or thought it would be the same as they are making now.  Wrong!  You need to take a position at the going market rate.

5.  Can't get past the gate-keeper.  Many paralegals send a resume and do no follow-up whatsoever via phone call, e-mail, or anything.  They just wait to hear. Christmas is coming too. Go meet these employers somewhere else:  Bar meetings, association meetings, the golf course, Facebook, LinkedIn, seminars, trade shows, call-in radio shows.  Find them on You Tube. 

6.  Refusal to join the community.  If you ask whether some paralegals have joined an association, taken a seminar, webinar, read a paralegal publication, the answer is no.  Whether they feel that it won't do any good or they are too shy or it's not worth the effort, is up for discussion.  However, let me tell you this:  The secret to finding a paralegal job is through other paralegals.  Paralegals know where the jobs are.  Your best friend on the job is not going to go running down to HR and say, "Gee.  I don't like it here.  I'm thinking of finding another job."  No!  But they will tell colleagues on the job.  Those are the people in the know.

7.  If you join an association, you have to go to the meetings.  It's funny how people answer questions.  You ask, "Did you join your local paralegal association?"  And the person says, "Yes, of course."  Aha!  You usually have to ask, "Do you attend the face-to-face meetings?"  Usually, the answer is no.

8.  You are not aware just how badly you do in an interview.  You just don't.  And who is going to tell you?  The person who interviewed you?  Nope!  No one.  It may be just one, teeny, tiny thing that sets employers off that the candidate is not aware of that keeps him/her from finding a position.  Do mock interviews with someone who is very familiar with paralegals.  Take the critique to heart.  It could help, not hinder.

9.   If you are temping, are you getting good reviews?  Common complaint heard:  "I do lots of temp jobs.  That's not the way to find a job.  No one has offered me anything. " Let's examine that. Are you going down to HR and asking, "Can I leave my resume with you in the event something comes up?"  Probably not.  Most people just wait to see if someone is going to spot them out of the crowd, like them and automatically offer a job.  It just doesn't happen that way.

10.  Networking:  Are you really annoying?  Do people tend to run the other way when they see you coming?  No, really!  Sometimes, we are so desperate.  But sometimes people can't help us. They tend to run the other way when they see you coming because they can't help you and frankly, don't know what to say to you any longer.  Your networking begins to backfire.  Figure out a way to be part of the circle.  Join a committee with your association.  Get to know folks.

 I wrote a book called, The Successful Paralegal's Job Search Guide.  It's been a best seller for 10 years and is still up-to-date.  You can get it on  It has 250 questions you might be asked in the interview.  It also has 250 questions you can ask (Uh, don't ask all 250). 

Form a support group and meet via Skype once a week.  It's free. You can see each other. Share experiences.  Share tips.  Support each other.  Invite successful headhunters and paralegals to come in and talk with you.

The OLP has a great deal going now to take eDiscovery 101A or Creating Legally Defensible Records Retention online interactive courses.  These are gold standard courses taught by expert legal professionals. Take the courses and bring new skills to the table.  More than your competitor. Remember:  Employers pay for knowledge.  Not for years of experience nor whether you can make it to work on time, are a team player, dress well, hunt for assignments or worked at prestigious firms.  They pay for knowledge.

Join an association such as your local paralegal association or The Organization of Legal Professionals or the National Association of Freelance Legal Professionals and go get some real contacts who can help you.  Get certified in eDiscovery through the OLP and offer employers something brand new that is sweeping the country.

 You CAN do this.  I know it's hard, it's stressful,  it's anxiety provoking. It's also exciting, challenging and positive. I guarantee it.


District attorney recognizes paralegal for law enforcement assistance

Sure like it when everyday citizens find & help solve crimes! Read all about it in this article from California's Auburn Journal:

"The message from the Placer County District Attorney's Office was that law enforcement can't go it alone.

"'Many ignore the call,' District Attorney Brad Fenocchio said, during a ceremony honoring several who stepped up to assist an investigation or put a suspect behind bars.

"Area residents who went above and beyond that call stepped up Tuesday before the Board of Supervisors to receive praise and certificates from the District Attorney's Office.


"Paralegal Gayle McMorow noticed some inconsistencies in an 87-year-old woman's checking account, reported what turned out to be theft by a former caregiver, and assisted with a felony elder abuse case that took three years to prosecute."

Congrats to Gayle!!

Fort Worth paralegal named Legal Professional of the Year

Hearty congratulations to Leslie Stokes for receiving this award reported by Pegasus News:

"Leslie G. Stokes, Certified PP, PLS, TSC-CL, at the Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, P.C., in Fort Worth, has been named Legal Professional of the Year for 2007-2008 by the Texas Association of Legal Professionals.

"Ms. Stokes, a native of Fort Worth, was presented with the award at the Texas ALP's recent annual meeting in Arlington. She has worked as a paralegal at the Laird firm for the past six years.

"Ms. Stokes works under the supervision of two attorneys on complex medical malpractice and personal injury cases. She is involved in every aspect of trial preparation, including handling upkeep of case files, meeting with clients, monitoring deadlines, coordinating and scheduling depositions, hearings, mediations, and expert interviews. In addition, she researches legal issues, drafts pleadings and discovery and does background research on witnesses.

"'Leslie is an invaluable member of our legal team,' says firm founder Steven C. Laird. 'Without her and our other paralegals, we lawyers wouldn't be prepared to set foot in a courtroom. She is very deserving of this honor.'"

Such welcome praise from a lawyer!

Helen Raschke Pro Bono Award

Must read this very inspiring article from the The Black Hills Pioneer (SD)

"If you were to talk to Helen Raschke of Lead, she would tell you that the best years of her life were spent doing pro bono work because she was helping people in trouble.

"In April of this year, Raschke was honored as an award was given in her name for the work she did for 16 years as a Private Attorney Coordinator -- a job that didn't exist before she started at West Texas Legal Services in Wichita Falls, Texas. The Helen Raschke Pro Bono Award will be awarded annually to the most helpful legal assistant/secretary for a pro bono attorney. In her speech before announcing the first recipient of the award, Raschke said, 'They all need to be valued and appreciated for enabling more legal services to be provided to the poor [PDF]. This new award will be a token of our admiration, respect and appreciation.' She also added, 'The secretary could make or break your day.'"

Helen's sure got that right!

"Law-firm employees receive pro bono awards"

Good news for these individuals & for their firm's pro bono program!

"Six lawyers and one paralegal are the first recipients of Charles L. Whistler Pro Bono Awards at Baker & Daniel law firm.


"Rhonda Jackson is a paralegal who helped coordinate the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society's annual holiday fund-raising campaign during the last three years."

Noted on Baker & Daniels' press release:

"The firm's pro bono award is named in memory of Charles L. Whistler, a former Baker & Daniels lawyer whose vision, talent and energy helped shape Indianapolis. He represented diverse interests and an array of projects, including Uni-Gov, beautification of downtown, creation of the City Center on the Monument Circle, opening of the Indiana Theater and planning of White River State Park. Whistler died in 1981 at age 55."

"Law Technology News Names Catalyst CR Finalist for Best EDD System"

So, how does the EDD software that your firm or company uses stack up?

"Catalyst Repository Systems, a leading provider of web-based repository software for case, deal and electronic document management, announced today that Catalyst CR has been selected as a finalist for the top Electronic Data Discovery Systems by the readers of Law Technology News.

"'We are especially honored to be a finalist for this award because it reflects the views of our partners and customers who use Catalyst CR,' said John Tredennick, CEO of Catalyst Repository Systems. 'This vote is a testament that CR's functionality, speed and scalability are delivering compelling value to law firms, corporations and insurance companies.'"

The American Lawyer's 'Fab Fifty'

This is a fascinating (alphabetical) list: "The 50 most-promising young litigators ages 45 & under." 

"We talked to hundreds of lawyers to find the rising stars whose careers are described below and in the pages that follow. Beginning with a wide and informal canvass that generated more than 200 suggestions, we identified practice areas that seemed rich in opportunity for young litigators and homed in on those for our reporting. That's why the list contains a concentration of appellate, intellectual property, public interest, and products liability lawyers. Others have made a mark as criminal defenders or labor lawyers or securities specialists. All of them have worked relentlessly to get where they are. What follows are the biographies of 50 litigators we expect to see leading the field for years to come."

Be sure to check out "The Life of a Young Litigator" -- it details stories from some of the 'Fab Fifty.'

"Kennedy Covington Paralegal Wins National Rookie of the Year Award"

Well, isn't this great news?

"Kennedy Covington paralegal Julianne Fink, NCCP, has been awarded the Rookie of the Year by Legal Assistant Today magazine. 

"Fink was selected by the magazine's editorial advisory board for her leadership and dedication to the legal assistant profession, to her local association, to her employer and to her community, in just two years of performing paralegal duties.

“'Julianne is an amazing asset to our team and she has certainly worked hard to earn this recognition within our firm and with the paralegal community at large,' said Kent Christison, partner-in-charge of the Raleigh and RTP [Research Triangle Park] offices of Kennedy Covington.  'Paralegals are essential to the success of a firm, assisting to meet clients’ needs on a daily basis.  A strong team is composed of a strong support staff and ours is literally award-winning.'"

Too bad the firm doesn't include profiles or bios of its paralegals....

"National Award to Paralegal For Work with Native American Community"

Congratulations! Love to hear this kind of news:

"The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) is pleased to announce that Raylene Frazier, a paralegal with Dakota Plains Legal Services (DPLS) in South Dakota,  is the 2006 recipient of the Pierce-Hickerson Award.  Frazier will be honored during the NLADA 2006 Annual Conference Awards Luncheon on Friday, November 10 at the Westin Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte, NC.


"Frazier, who is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, handles cases in all areas of Indian Law. She has prevailed in many Tribal Court appellate cases and administrative hearings. Her vast experience and the training she received through the years from the American Indian Lawyer Training Program, the National Justice Center, the Legal Services Corporation and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy qualified her to head up a DPLS Department of Justice grant to provide basic trial skills training to attorneys and lay advocates practicing in Tribal Courts in South Dakota."

"Sergeant places first in paralegal contest"

Congratulations to Rosemary Hernandez!

"A sergeant bested 22 other Army paralegals from XVIII Airborne Corps and Army Special Operations Command in competition Thursday at Fort Bragg, N.C.

"Sgt. Rosemary Hernandez placed first in the Command Sgt. Maj. Cornell Gilmore paralegal challenge, according to results released by Master Sgt. Joseph Lister, one of the event’s organizers.


"The event is named for Gilmore who was the top enlisted legal adviser in the Judge Advocate General Corps when he died in Iraq in late 2003. He had held the position since June 2002. He was one of six aboard a Black Hawk helicopter on Nov. 7 when it was struck by enemy fire. The helicopter crashed near Tikrit and none of the occupants survived."