5 Helpful Steps to Get Hired After You Obtain Your Certificate
1. Finding a job you’re interested in
Step one is incredibly important in your job-hunting journey, because you don’t want to waste your tie searching, applying, and interviewing for a position you don’t actually want. You can get the same practice interviewing by going out for jobs you really want, so you have to figure this out.
Is there a particular area of the law that interests you? Maybe you don’t see yourself specializing in you work, and that’s fine. There are firms seeking paralegals that can follow various types of cases to work closely alongside attorneys.
Not only is becoming a paralegal a practical job choice, but it’s also dependable in terms of career growth. The demand for paralegals has continued to steadily grow over the years, with employment for paralegals estimated to grow by a whopping 14% the next decade.
As a paralegal, your skills will also make you eligible for employment at businesses other than law firms. You might also decide to teach, or be your own boss as an independent contractor for paralegal services. A paralegal education displays the skills necessary to work in a wide range of occupations, including government, estate planning, law libraries, insurance, healthcare, and more! Should you transition into another field of study, paralegal courses still offer an educational foundation that you can build on throughout your life.
In today’s market, careers don’t have a linear line of direction—instead of moving up the office positions, you may shift from one occupation to another, learning to pick up certain skills as they become more in demand. Paralegals show great career development. They have strengthened research skills, moral efficacy, and interpersonal relations, all trending job traits.
Another way to narrow down your options is to pick a city or location in which you want to work and begin searching there. You can search in nearby areas as well if the immediate city doesn’t have open positions for paralegals. Maybe you want to find a position that is flexible, so you can work some hours remotely or on the weekends to fit your lifestyle better.
Whatever the case, once you narrow down your criteria and select some jobs you’re interested in, you can begin applying and interviewing.
2. Getting Past the Gate Keepers
Highlight your skills and credentials to potential employers. This will help you stand out, and it showcases your credibility and skills. Accreditation ensures high quality education and services for schools in a similar way that certification ensures high quality job candidates.
As a graduate of Blackstone’s online Legal Assistant/Paralegal Diploma Program, you secure more than the 900 clock hours of coursework needed to sit for the Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) exam and/or the Professional Paralegal (PP) certification, given by NALS, the association for legal professionals. In addition, the program meets the accredited business/legal course criteria needed to sit for the Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal (CLA/CP) exam given by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
Blackstone Career Institute’s graduates received certification from a Nationally and Regionally Accredited institute. Not only is the school accredited, but the private licensed school regulated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools, has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
The Distance Education Accrediting Commission, Washington D.C., is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Blackstone Career Institute strives to achieve the highest standards of school performance and student results along with compliance to all DEAC Standards and Code of Ethics.
Blackstone Career Institute is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools. The Accrediting Commission of the DEAC and the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools are recognized members of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
3. Using Temporary Agencies
Once this level of education is completed, the next steps and hunt for an entry-level career begins. As our experienced teachers in Blackstone’s Paralegal Certificate programs will tell you, temporary agencies, or staffing agencies, are one of the best and time-tested strategies of the Paralegal’s hiring process.
For a short period of time, employers hire temporary workers until they have time to find a permanent employee. Temp jobs can give you experience in industries and careers you might not have otherwise thought of trying — without a long-term commitment. Furthermore, I recommend Robert Half & Associates as a well-paying and reputable temp firm.
They will send you out for two-to-three-month assignments, which is an ideal amount of time to get your foot in the door for a full-time position or to gain experience in a particular field. Having a high-powered connection is the most likely way to getting hired. These include a recruiter, a temp agency, or a personal friend who has friends in the law firm. If you have no connections or you haven’t made it to a recruiter’s list yet, then your best bet is to go in through a legal temp agency.
The temp process should not last longer than a year. As a result, you may want to pursue a part time position as a temp in a firm while you are getting your degree or other qualifications. Regardless of how you get on the inside of a firm, remember cardinal rule number two in all firms is privacy. You should avoid gossip and discussing your business, or the business of others, to those inside the firm. Use discretion when releasing any personal information. You want to make and maintain friendships while remaining professional and representing the firm you are under at all times. You never know where networking will lead you, or how it can help you get hired in the future!
4. Interviewing for a Paralegal Job
Before interviewing with a law firm or any of its attorneys or staff members, you will want to remember a few important facts. Lawyers are by definition negotiators. Consequently, negotiators listen to every detail you say, and they weigh it in the balance of what it is they want from you. Therefore, choose your words carefully and avoid getting personal.
While you don’t want to get too personal, you also don’t want to answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no.” Explain your reasons for answering a question a certain way. Take time to answer an interviewer’s questions. If you need a minute to think before you answer, take it. You don’t want to look stuck and allow long periods of silence, but thinking about a question before you commit to an answer shows the interviewer that you care about your answers and want to be hired. If you reiterate the question back to the interviewer, you can ensure that you’ve understood him or her correctly and buy yourself a few more moments to consider your response.
This is a cardinal rule in negotiations: He who speaks first loses. At a time when you are seeking to negotiate a salary, view our previous paralegal blog post for tips on negotiating an above-average paralegal salary.
5. Accepting the Job
The goal of the interview process is to be hired for the job, so this moment is exciting and probably intimidating as well. You might decide to accept the job, decline the job, or negotiate the job with pending acceptance. When you’re offered a job that you’re unsure of accepting, it’s okay to consider the offer prior to accepting or declining. If you tell the company you’d like to think about the offer, give them a date you’ll let them know by, never more than a few days. They have a position to fill and others to notify, so they can’t wait around for you to respond to their offer.
Here are some things to consider about a potential job:
• Growth Opportunities
Once you are offered a position, and decide you’re ready to accept the job, you’ll need to let the prospective employer know. Be proactive. It’s common to wait 24 hours before accepting a job, and during that time you can ask for the offer in writing if it is not provided. Verbal offers and acceptances are okay, but written communication alleviates room for any disconnect between you and your potential employer in the scope of the job, benefits, etc. Make sure you discuss the starting date of employment. Allow yourself enough time to prepare and conclude your time with any previous employees if necessary.
Perhaps the most important reason to pursue paralegal certificate programs is that you have all the tools to achieve a career doing what you love. Paralegal courses provide the tools and develop the skills necessary to excel in the field. Accessible resources may include LexisNexis, an online case citation software, or exercises that strengthen your written communication, research and investigative skills, technology organization, and multitasking.
If you’re searching for the tools you need to earn your certification in a convenient and affordable manner, then Blackstone Career Institute should be your final destination. Blackstone is one of the oldest correspondence schools in the nation, especially in legal studies.
We give you complete freedom to manage your personal life, get hired at your dream job, and your education–all at your own pace. Contact us today and discover how our excellence in online career training can help turn your dreams of a paralegal career into a reality.
Written by Professor Jeffrey Hauck
Professor Jeffrey Hauck currently resides in Texas with his wife and family. He is serving in the U.S. Army as a Space Operations Officer for an Innovation Command providing guidance and assessments for Theater and Homeland Defense missions. His military service includes more than twenty years of experience both as a U.S. Army Non-Commissioned and Commissioned Officer employed as an Airborne Infantry Pathfinder; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) basic branch Officer; and now a Space Operations Officer (FA-40). His law enforcement career includes fifteen years of service as a municipal police officer hired, and twice promoted, through the Civil Service Commission.
Professor Hauck retired from law enforcement at the rank of Sergeant as a platoon shift supervisor and administrator. He possesses many years of training, lecturing, & business management experience as well as more than fifteen years of experience as a Licensed Private Detective (LPD). During the years of 2006 – 2014 he was Licensed and Bonded as a Private Detective empowered to conduct private investigations throughout the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Alabama.
Professor Hauck is currently licensed as a Private Investigator in the State of Texas. He earned a Juris Doctor (JD) Degree and was a fellow at the Law & Government Institute earning specializations in both Administrative and Constitutional Law at Widener University School of Law. He also holds a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Criminal Justice, and a Career Diploma as a Certified Legal Assistant/Paralegal. Currently, he is a Ph.D candidate.
As a law enforcement officer Professor Hauck held certification to teach at the Police Academy Level (PA Act 120) as a Special & General law enforcement Educator/Trainer. He is credentialed as a Certified Law Enforcement Trainer (CLET), Certified Protection Officer (CPO), Certified International Investigator (CII), and Certified Instructor in the areas of academics, skills, and firearms for Pennsylvania’s Act 235, The Lethal Weapons Training Act. He has been teaching as an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies in both brick and mortar and distance institutions since 2002. He is a proud member of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the Texas Association of Licensed Investigators (TALI), and other professional organizations.