You’ve just finished a degree or certificate program, and you’re ready to start applying for paralegal jobs. To do that, you need a well-written resume that’ll help you stand out.
Every industry has its own expectations regarding resumes. What you used for your retail job won’t cut it when applying to law firms. And you don’t need to be a lawyer to work for a prestigious law firm. You can create a great career for yourself as a paralegal as long as you have the right credentials and your resume reflects that.
In this article, we’ll look at what a paralegal is, go over some resume samples, and finish with five tips to help you land the paralegal job of your dreams.
A paralegal performs many tasks assigned to support lawyers. This includes drafting legal documents like pleadings and conducting legal research using Westlaw and LexisNexis.
They assist lawyers in all fields (like real estate, criminal, or elder law) with facets of a legal case. You’ll find them investigating and gathering facts and helping lawyers with subpoenas.
Paralegals often interact with clients, lawyers, and witnesses to schedule meetings and depositions.
You’ll even find them in court, helping lawyers by handling exhibits and taking notes.
Paralegals will see excellent career growth, with jobs expected to grow by 10% between 2019-2029.
This position presents an excellent opportunity to work in law without going through years of law school.
And there are a couple of different paths to become a paralegal.
The first and most common way is by getting an associate degree in paralegal studies. However, many law firms require a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree. With a bachelor’s degree, you can get a certificate in paralegal studies.
Law firms and government organizations have pretty clear expectations regarding resumes. Your retail resume won’t cut it.
A hiring manager will want to see your relevant experience and education section. That’s why it’s important to tailor your resume to any job you apply for.
If you’re newly graduated and applying for your first job, your resume will look a bit different than others.
Highlight your internships and tailor your experience to be as relevant as possible. For example, if you worked as a receptionist in the past, that experience will help you interact with clients.
You only have 7.4 seconds to make a good impression before the recruiter makes a decision. Making sure all of your important information is readily available is how you pique a recruiter’s interest and encourage them to keep reading.
Here’s a paralegal resume sample for a candidate who recently graduated from school and has worked as an intern.
It starts strong, with a resume objective that clearly states their qualifications. It mentions their years of experience conducting interviews and states that they’re seeking an entry-level position.
It has great formatting, with everything being easy to find.
The objective does a good job of highlighting the candidate’s experience and getting a recruiter to keep reading.
Their work experience as an intern and legal assistant is especially relevant. They use action verbs, delivering their experience with impact. This helps their resume stand out from the crowd.
Notice that the skills section that goes over both hard skills like case management and soft skills like communication skills.
Here are five steps to help you write a winning resume.
There are a couple of different ways you can format your paralegal resume.
There’s reverse-chronological, which is the most common resume format (and the one we recommend). It’s a resume where you list your most recent experience first and work backward from there.
The functional resume format focuses more on your skills than your experience.
Lastly, there’s the hybrid resume. It emphasizes both your skills and your experience equally.
For a paralegal resume, you’ll want to use the reverse-chronological format. Law firms often value practical experience over anything else.
A resume template is an easy way to up the aesthetic. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when hundreds of great templates are available through resume builders.
It’s a great way to ensure that you have all of the essential components on your resume, like your contact information.
Resume Genius has a great paralegal resume template.
Every good resume begins with a comprehensive summary statement. Like in our example above, you want to use this chance to show off your experiences and qualifications. It’s where you make a good first impression, so don’t hold back.
Rather than talking about what you want from the job, talk about what you bring to the table. If you have an extensive work history in personal injury law offices, speak about that.
If you don’t have much experience, it’s worth mentioning your education, any internships you’ve completed, and what motivates you to want to work as a paralegal.
Your experience section is arguably the most important part of your resume. It’s where you get to show off the skills you’ve built up that make you right for the job.
We recommend using bullet points and going in reverse-chronological order. If you have plenty of relevant professional experience, that takes priority over other jobs.
However, if you’re an entry-level paralegal, make what experience you have as relevant as possible. If you worked in customer service, those skills are transferable to a field where you’re doing a lot of interviews.
Did you know that 75% of resumes are never seen by a real person?
That’s because of applicant tracking systems. They scan resumes for keywords, and if they aren’t there, your resume is automatically discarded.
The trick is that these keywords are often in the job description. For example, if a company’s job description mentions they’re looking for an experienced paralegal with family law, trial preparation, and Excel experience, include those technical skills.
Use similar language in your resume and cover letter, and you’re sure to get that interview.
There are hundreds of paralegal jobs hiring right now. You just have to know where to look.
Thankfully, our job board is ripe with paralegal positions nationwide. Check it out and start your promising new career.
After finishing your professional resume, your dream job should be in your sights.
If you include a summary statement, list your experience, and use keywords, you should have no problems lining up interview after interview.
You can find more tips for your paralegal job search by visiting our Getting Hired Resource Center.