From our guest blogger, Tom Dezell:
Be the Answer to the Hiring Managers’ Problems
by Tom Dezell
Today’s labor market is an employer’s market. Companies can select from arguably the largest candidate [paralegal] pool in history. Discouraged job seekers often complain that the disparity in numbers contributes to an atmosphere of employer arrogance. Their advantage of supply over demand has lead to a lack of common courtesy regarding keeping candidates informed, returning calls, etc. While this perception certainly has merit, it’s important for job seekers to realize that the key individual at a company with an opening may not perceive him or herself as holding all the trump cards. That’s the hiring manager.
In most scenarios, these uncertain economic times mean that this opening has existed significantly longer than the hiring manager would have liked. The extended delay increases the probability that what started as a need has quickly escalated to the problem or crisis level, most of which has fallen on the desk of the hiring manager. This crisis presents a candidate with their best opportunity to get hired. A hiring manager facing a laundry list of problems will be drawn to the candidate most capable of solving these problems.
Once you’re scheduled to interview with a hiring manager, prepare by learning as much information as possible regarding the backlogs and difficulties this opening has created. This is where your network becomes critical. Think of anyone you know with knowledge of the company and the hiring manager. LinkedIn can provide connecting points from your network to the company. Once you identify them, use these contacts to get an idea of the biggest need facing the company and its hiring manager. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Once you have a better idea what the problems are, you can better emphasize the skills, successes and projects from your background that will best demonstrate your ability to solve them.
One of the most consistent mistakes I see job seekers make is failing to view the hiring situation through the eyes of the employer. Rather than perceiving a hiring manager as a the one with all the power, realize this is an individual with a need. You can much better offer yourself as a solution once you clearly understanding the hiring manager’s problem.
Tom Dezell, author of Networking for the Novice, Nervous, or Naive Job Seeker, has been a professional career advisor and resume writer for more than 25 years. Currently, Dezell works with the Maryland Department of Workplace Development, facilitating career seminars as well as advising individuals job seekers. For more information, please visit www.yournetworkingguide.com.
From our guest blogger, Tom Dezell:
So, what do you do for this big day? Take your kids to work? Does your firm or company participate?
"Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day has grown from a modest scope in its pilot year to include businesses large and small, unions, hospitals, manufacturing plants, arts groups, social agencies, schools and government offices. The latter list has included NASA, the CIA, the courts and legislative bodies.
"This year, the U.S. Senate expects 300 participants. That body now has 16 female senators. Fifteen years ago, it had two.
"Some workplaces simply invite employees to have their children, or someone else's, shadow them for the day. Others hold organized activities.
"The law firm Cohen & Grigsby, which has held events on and off over the years, will introduce about 50 children to a range of careers, including paralegal, accountant and technology expert. They'll also visit the courtroom of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward."
Calling all workaholics! Be smart & take some time off for a rejuvenating nap..at work!
"The Power Room at one Raleigh law office isn't a place where high-profile deals get done or important meetings occur.
"It's for snoozing.
"As workers log in longer hours, there is increasing interest in the revitalizing power of naps. One company in New York sells 20- minute sessions in nap pods. A recent study in Greece showed that regular naps can reduce the risk of heart attacks.
"Honestly, who hasn't had stressful workdays when an afternoon siesta would have hit the spot?
"Put the partners at Kilpatrick Stockton in the pro-nap camp."
Very interesting question raised on LawCrossing. Diversity in the workplace is good, right?
"It is not uncommon these days to see more men doing traditionally female jobs such as teaching preschool and kindergarten and working as librarians, legal assistants or paralegals, bank tellers, speech pathologists, secretaries, data-entry workers, nurses, or even maids. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2005, 13.7% of paralegals were men. In 2004, the percentage was barely 11%.
"Experts who study the labor market have hypothesized that an unstable job market may lead more males to seek employment in alternative careers. And does that come as a surprise? Women who cross into traditionally male-dominated professions often do so for financial reasons and end up earning bigger paychecks than they would in traditionally female jobs.
"Men who do the reverse may not be rewarded with larger salaries, but they may find more job security. Additionally, men are frequently able to advance further and faster in traditionally female jobs than their female counterparts. This is what is sometimes known as the glass-elevator [or escalator] effect [PDF].
"Howard Lee is a legal assistant at law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen in Richmond, VA. He said that he feels being a man in a traditionally female profession has its benefits.
"'I feel [male] paralegals have great chances of securing final interviews and, ultimately, job placement,' said Lee. 'Many HR departments are trying to get more diversity in the paralegal workforce.'"
Think your salary is fair & equitable? Responses might just depend on your gender:
"We’re coming up on Equal Pay Day again. That’s the day in April every year—this year the 24th—when women’s earnings finally catch up with what men made by December 31 of the previous year. Women’s groups, led by the National Committee on Pay Equity, will rally on Capitol Hill to call attention to the issue.
"The pay gap is still a stubborn problem, with women who work full time, year-round making 76 cents to a man’s dollar. Though it consistently polls number one with female voters in election years, politicians don’t seem motivated to do much about it.
"Some people say pay disparities between women and men are an illusion—women just like to choose jobs that pay less because they’re not as risky or have shorter hours. But the data don’t back up these claims [PDF]. Even when researchers take into account such factors as part-time work or time out of the work force to care for kids, the numbers show that men make more. Another problem that just won’t go away is that so-called 'men’s jobs' like plumbing, pay more than 'women’s jobs,' like nursing. That tells us something about what we value as a society, and it’s not women’s work."
Author Martha Burk is a political psychologist and director of the Corporate Acountability Project for the National Council of Women's Organizations.
"If you know you want to work part time as a lawyer, which fields of law or types of jobs are best for you? At the blog Concurring Opinions, William & Mary law professor Nate Oman recounts that a student recently came to him with this question and, 'I am embarrassed to say I don't know the answer.' The student explained that she would like to work full time for a few years after law school, then pull back to fewer hours.
"Not knowing the answer, Oman turned to his blog and asked his readers for their suggestions. Among the responses so far, comments suggest licensing, trademarks, trusts and estates, tax and employee benefits as fields of law amenable to part-time work. As for jobs, in-house counsel jobs are sometimes part time, and government offices sometimes allow flexible schedules and job sharing."
So, what practice areas do you think might be good for part-time paralegals? Surely not litigation, right? Would the areas listed above also fit paralegals?
BTW, are you a part-time paralegal now? Are there any drawbacks?
"...Personally, I've always thought that a job applicant's good looks and sex appeal, (particularly, when the applicant is female) are an asset in getting hired. Down the line, perhaps, good looks can prevent career advancement because purportedly, employees do not always take attractive people, particularly, women seriously...."
Do you agree with Carolyn?
"Eighty-five percent of U.S. executives believe their administrative assistants are important to their success, a nationwide staffing-service survey says.
"Of 150 senior executives at the nation's 1,000 largest companies surveyed, 48 percent said their administrative assistant's role was very important to their success, the OfficeTeam survey said.
"OfficeTeam noted Administrative Professionals Week would be observed in the United States April 22-28. Many executives that week recognize the work of clerical employees such as administrative assistants, receptionists, paralegals and others."
Corporate lawyer hiring directly affects corporate paralegal hiring. Tighten your seat belts; it's going to be a bumpy ride!
"It has been a bull market for corporate lawyers, with multimillion- and billion-dollar M&A deals galore. But the recent stock market plunge sent a little chill down the backs of some, a reminder that the high times won't last forever. A day after trouble in the China market dropped the Dow more than 400 points, Fenwick & West corporate group Chairman Daniel Winnike said he was relieved Wall Street had stabilized.
"'If it had dropped another 300 points,' he said, 'then some of the companies might have had second thoughts about some of the M&A deals we're working on.'
"Corporate law leaders like Winnike remember well the dot-com bust that forced layoffs at such star Silicon Valley firms as Fenwick & West, Cooley Godward, Venture Law Group (now with Heller Ehrman) and Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich (now DLA Piper) five years ago. As they have built up their departments in this economic upturn, they're applying two key lessons: Diversify your practices [PDF] and hire smarter."
Important advice for people who work with computers & read lots of documents:
"Your eyes are the products of millions of years of evolution. Unfortunately, this means that they’re optimized for spotting prey across the savanna, not for peering at letters built up of little dots on tiny screens. In recent years, optometrists have come to recognize a complex of eye and vision problems they call Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS for short.
"When you spend your day looking at computer screens (especially poorly-maintained screens, or the tiny ones on mobile devices), your eyes strain, you blink less, and your body gets generally unhappy. The result? Fatigue, headaches, blurry vision, dry eyes, neck and backaches, and even double vision."