Resumes

The resume is the sole picture of a paralegal that potential employers see while searching for candidates. In the competitive paralegal world, your resume will need to standout while remaining professional. Format of the resume is extremely important and can mean the difference between an employer passing it up entirely or taking a look. Law firms and other paralegal employers generally have a very professional, fast-paced environment, so a paralegal’s resume should match this.

Resumes should be typed; if presented on paper, the choice needs to be heavy stock, in off-white or eggshell color, not stark white. The type font for your resume should be easy to read and professional in appearance. Typically, resumes are sent in electronic form so plan to have your resume available in several different popular document formats as you may be asked to send a different style due to technology capabilities.

The format of the resume should highlight your best qualities at the top. This will make the potential employer want to continue reading. The “objective statement” on a resume is beginning to be obsolete. Instead, focus on your career goal specific to this employer. As pertinent legal experience is invaluable to potential employers, this should be the next section. Check out some resume samples on websites and at the library if you need to.

The professional experience section is extremely important to employers. For the inexperienced paralegal, it can be a difficult section. This is also a place to note any internships or experiences that brought you to the level at which you are currently. Similarly, many colleges and paralegal programs are incorporating more hands-on or real-life experiences throughout their courses?this is a great place to list these if you do not have other pertinent experience.

For the experienced paralegal, the past experience section is just as, if not more, important. The most recent position should be listed first, followed by the one prior and so on. It is okay to list other non-legal positions, but these should only highlight any duties or qualities required that could transfer to the paralegal position. Focus on the previous experience that will make you the most valuable.

Next, note any titles or certification you hold. These are also significant to a potential employer and this section can segue into education, if a certificate was obtained from a university. When noting education, include when and where the degree was obtained, for those with less experience, including relevant classes is an option. If you had a high GPA or graduated with honors include this information as well.

The skills section should not restate other qualities already listed in the resume. Skills all paralegals should possess are computer skills and applicable programs. Paralegals may also want to include any research programs they are familiar with, as this will mean less training needed by the company. Employers like paralegals who are technologically advanced as this helps the company become more proficient.

Once all these are listed, paralegals should list any other accomplishments or accreditations they have not already stated. Any legal volunteer work or applicable experiences will go in this section. If there are none, do not include this section.

A cover letter should be included with a resume; failure to include this is seen as unprofessional and lacking. The cover letter should not reiterate what the resume says. The cover letter should draw in the employer with statements that encourage him or her to review your resume. State the position you are applying for and why. Keep the cover letter short and simple; it should make the employer want to read the resume.

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