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.


"Too Many Laws, Not Enough Lawyers"

I'm thinking this article means it might be a good time for SOX paralegals to seek raises:

"With business booming at the nation's law firms, the fees they charge will climb steadily. Expect the cost of corporate legal services to continue to increase an average of one and a half times the rate of inflation in coming years. The trend will vary widely by region, with the largest jumps likely in major metropolitan areas.

"What's fueling demand? The explosion of new corporate compliance regulations, spawned in large part by the Sarbanes-Oxley reform law, means businesses have a lot more legal paperwork. Merger mania is also keeping lawyers busy as companies buy and sell one another at a fast clip. Every corporate deal generates a raft of necessary legal documents. Finally, plain old economic growth is underpinning a natural expansion in the market for legal services. As a result, law firms are averaging a comfortable 10% rate of profit growth [emphasis added] per partner per year."

LexisNexis Marks Launch of New Data Collection & Forensics Services Lab

This news makes it sound like LexisNexis has been very busy:

"Based at the companys discovery services headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., the new lab features advanced processing and industrial strength decryption capabilities currently found in very few non-governmental labs. This technology component joins the earlier established 'all star' team of specialists, each with years of experience in law enforcement, investigation, information technology, programming, data collection and digital forensics. Together, these assets help law firms and their clients gain greater control over and confidence in the recovery and review of the documents they and opposing parties produce for legal discovery.


"After helping clients locate data in places such as servers, workstations, home computers, backup tapes, e-mail, voicemail, cell phones, PDAs, and other places, consultants then leverage the 15 million pages per day processing capacity and specialized technology of Applied Discovery to conduct forensically sound data collection and document review. For those clients requiring a deeper dive, the team, using a vendor agnostic approach, can conduct customized forensic operations such as:

  • Sorting 30 different fields, across all four time stamp types, by file name or signature extension, hash value, full pat and file permissions.
  • Streamlining More than 150 filters help narrow relevant information displayed based on specific client criteria.
  • Finding, viewing deleted files - viewing deleted and unallocated files.
  • Pinpointing critical documents specialized searching based on client needs.
  • Password recovery decrypt password protected documents from most common commercial programs in minutes."

"E-Discovery Survival Guide For Corporate Counsel"

Make sure you can do your part to help prevent "death by e-discovery." Here's the complete article by lawyers Jeanine Bermel & Art Smith:

"While no one course of action is appropriate for all corporations, there are some basic steps to prepare for that first e-discovery challenge, none of which guarantee success. On the other hand, failure to recognize the challenges of complying with the e-discovery rules is more likely to lead to disaster.

"Here are a few thoughts on recommended survival tactics to maneuver through the e-discovery minefield.

1. Update and enforce your records management policy.

"Prudence and good corporate management dictate that every business should have a records management policy [PDF]. Such a policy informs employees about the documents they are required to keep as a matter of law or regulation or business necessity. It establishes procedures for the maintenance of records, and equally important, it outlines when records may permissibly be destroyed either because the legal retention period has expired or the business necessity no longer exists."

Authors Art Smith and Jeanine Bermel are members of the Dispute Resolution Practice Group at Husch & Eppenberger in St. Louis and regularly advise their corporate clients on issues relating to electronic discovery.

"5 Steps for E-Mail Retention"

Smart guidance & helpful discussion:

"The wrong time to enact an e-mail archiving and retention plan is after your company gets audited or sued. The best way to protect your company, of course, is by developing a plan for managing and legally deleting your data before something happens. For companies just starting to look at their e-mail data retention policies...."

The article outlines the five steps to follow.

SEC rules out Sarbanes-Oxley exemption for small firms

Wow, didn't see this coming!

"The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) Wednesday announced that although it has decided to simplify the Sarbanes-Oxley law, it will not exempt smaller companies from the provisions of the law aimed at reducing fraud.

"The SEC mentioned that it will take steps to simplify compliance procedures, while making the regulatory process more efficient and cost effective. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed after investors lost huge funds due to accounting scandals in several companies, such as Enron Corp and WorldCom Inc."

"Keep Internet Disclosures From Costing Your Company"

This article affirms what we've been teaching at our SuperConferences:

"Answer: The Internet and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX)

"Question: What two powerful forces are generating a whole new world of liability for companies and their directors and officers?

"It is unlikely that this answer-and-question combo will ever appear on the popular TV quiz show 'Jeopardy.' But the reality is that as the Internet opens pathways to doing business that could scarcely be imagined a decade ago, it also presents increasing dangers to public companies in the form of new liability risks. The instantaneous nature of the Internet can be both boon and bane to companies seeking to harness it to provide information to, and create goodwill with, shareholders. Not only can information be disseminated over the Net in a fraction of a second for worldwide viewing, but it has become a predominant source of investment news. Financial updates, product developments, information tidbits, even rumors -- all are now posted 24/7 on the Web for consumption by anyone, including investors who are poised to take advantage of the latest intelligence.


"With securities claims involving improper Internet disclosures on the rise, a company would be wise to institute a review process, carried out by a qualified person (general counsel or compliance officer), to assure that its Internet disclosures are accurate, complete and appropriate. Following are some questions that should be asked as part of an Internet review, along with suggestions for 'common sense' measures for reducing a company's exposure and keeping pace with Web evolution."

Definitely recommend reading this entire piece!

"Beyond compliance"

Helpful Q&A about content management systems:

"When the topic of content management comes up, it's hard not to be reminded of comedian George Carlin's riff about stuff (and how we have too much of it). But years of compiling digital data, not to mention more recent developments in legal and regulatory requirements, have forced CIOs to think more assiduously about how they keep track of data -- not just so that they have it, but also so that they can find it when they need it.

"In this Q&A, Melissa Webster, program director in IDC's Content Technologies research group, talks about why firms are focusing more on content management.

"Q: Why is content management becoming important?

"A: Compliance is a major driver. If you look at the parts of content management that are growing the fastest, you see records management, digital asset management, and e-mail and communication management. Relating to compliance is the surge in e-discovery and litigation support needs."

"Law Firm GCs Continue to Multiply"

New positions for general counsel within law firms due to Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. Interesting unintended consequence, hmm?!

"Dan Carroll receives nearly a dozen phone calls and e-mails every week from one of his biggest clients. Raising complicated questions about everything from liability matters to ethics issues, the client can be demanding. Fortunately, however, Carroll is highly motivated to help this particular client thrive. After all, it's his own 115-lawyer firm.

"The Sacramento-based Downey Brand is just one among an increasing number of law firms around the country that are pulling lawyers away from revenue-generating work to serve as general counsel. More than two-thirds of the top 200 law firms in the United States now have a designated in-house general counsel, according to a recent survey conducted by Altman Weil, the legal consulting company.

"'This is reflective of larger law firm recognition of the need for risk management in our post-Enron, Sarbanes-Oxley environment,' says Ward Bower, a principal at Altman Weil. 'These are billion-dollar law firms and it's hard to imagine a billion-dollar company not having a designated GC. They've got a whole host of legal issues that any business of comparable size would have.'"

"Improper SEC and DOJ Cooperation Can Get Charges Dismissed"

For those involved in SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley, & representing public corporations, this is a very interesting article from the Legal Times....

"The aggressive expansion of white-collar prosecutions to areas regulated by civil enforcement agencies sometimes leads to unintended results -- including significant defeats -- for prosecutors.

"In two recent cases trial courts ruled that the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission failed to conduct independent investigations. If these decisions are representative of a new trend, the result may impose meaningfully new constraints on white-collar prosecutions.


"...two district court opinions, from last year's HealthSouth criminal case in the Northern District of Alabama (United States v. Scrushy) and from last month in the District of Oregon (United States v. Stringer), imposed significant sanctions on the government because of findings of improper coordination between civil and criminal agencies."