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STEP 4: Look for Legal Secretary Jobs and Apply

STEP 4: Look for Legal Secretary Jobs and Apply

Currin Berdine | AdminSecret with Monster Contributing Writers Peter Vogt, Carole Martin and Therese Droste

Now that you have decided this field is for you and you’ve got the degree you need, you’re ready to show yourself off to employers, right? Wrong. You’ll need a standout resume, an impeccable cover letter, and have brushed up on your interview skills. Lucky for you we’ve got expert advice on honing your job search, applying for, and landing the job.

Your Cover Letter and Resume
An employer typically gives each applicant’s resume and cover letter a 30-second look before deciding to consider it or throw it in the trash. Be sure yours conveys your skills, talents, and background so you don’t end up in the garbage.

Cover Letter
Your cover letter is an essential part of your application. You want to make it memorable as well as straightforward and to the point. Remember: You have to fit a lot of important and captivating information in just one page. We’ve got a great example of a general administrative assistant cover letter.

A general cover letter is a good start, but it’s even better to tailor your cover letter to your reader. Visit your potential employer’s website or read the company’s annual report to learn more about it, and then use your cover letter to demonstrate how your skills and experience can benefit that specific organization.

Essential Job-Hunting Information

Don’t forget to highlight your biggest accomplishments and skills. Sell yourself — don’t be shy! For a legal secretary job, it is important to point out any office skills, your teamwork attitude, previous administrative experience, education, etc. Make your skills stand out by using active verbs and descriptive adjectives. For example, instead of saying “I know Microsoft Excel from my previous job” state “I developed a strong background in Microsoft Excel from working three years in a multi-million dollar sales firm.” Use this comprehensive list of action and power verbs to punch up your resume and cover letter.

For more even more suggestions, read our expert advice on opening lines for your admin cover letter and 10 cover letter dos and don’ts.

Resume
If you want to improve your resume’s chances of actually being read by prospective employers, you must invest time and energy its content and its look. First, it needs to be aesthetically pleasing and well organized, with no more than two fonts and at least two-inch margins. Read this article on improving your resume’s look for more details on making your resume shine.

When writing your resume, avoid these key mistakes:

Typos and Grammatical Errors: Legal secretaries are supposed to be detail oriented with good writing and Word skills. No one will hire you if you have typos in your resume. Read it out loud to catch errors, perform a spelling and grammar check in Word, and have someone who can write well read it over. It never hurts to check it twice (or three or four or five times!)

One Size Fits All: Whenever you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to all employers, you almost always end up with something they’ll toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in their specific organization.

Going on Too Long or Cutting Things Too Short: Despite what you might have heard, there are no real rules governing the length of your resume. Why? Because actual human beings, who have different preferences and expectations where resumes are concerned, will be reading it. That doesn’t mean you should start sending out five-page resumes, of course. Generally speaking, you usually need to limit yourself to a maximum of two pages. But don’t feel you have to use two pages if one will do. Conversely, don’t cut the meat out of your resume simply to make it conform to an arbitrary one-page standard. One page, however, remains a strong choice.

Visually Too Busy: If your resume is wall-to-wall text in five different fonts, it’s going to look like a headache. So show your resume to several other people before sending it out. Do they find it visually attractive? If what you have is hard on the eyes, revise.

Incorrect Contact Information: Another downer for both you and an employer. The phone number and address on your resume should be correct for two reasons. One, you must prove you are conscious of even the most minute details and two, once the employer wants to you to offer you a job, they’ll have the wrong number!

So much for the don’ts. For the do’s, be sure you follow these guidelines in your resume:

Be Specific: Employers need to understand what you’ve done and accomplished.
For example:
A. Worked with employees in a restaurant setting.
B. Recruited, hired, trained, and supervised more than 20 employees in a restaurant with $2 million in annual sales.
Both of these phrases could describe the same person, but details and specifics in example B will grab an employer’s attention.

Write a Strong Objective Statement: Employers do read your resume’s objective statement, but they’ll plow through vague pufferies like, “Seeking a challenging position that offers professional growth.” Give employers something specific and, more importantly, something that focuses on their needs as well as your own. Example: “A challenging legal secretary position that allows me to contribute my skills and experience in organizing and operating a law firm.”

Use Action Verbs: Avoid using phrases like “responsible for.” Instead, use action verbs: “Resolved user questions as part of an IT help desk serving 4,000 students and staff.” Use this comprehensive list of action and power verbs when writing your resume and cover letter.

Highlight Accomplishments, Not Duties: It’s easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing job duties on your resume. For example:
-Attended group meetings and recorded minutes
- Worked with children in a day-care setting
- Updated departmental files
Employers, however, don’t care as much about what you did all day as they care about what you’ve actually accomplished. They’re looking for statements more like these:
-Used laptop computer to record weekly meeting minutes and compiled them in a Microsoft Word-based file for future organizational reference
-Developed three daily activities for preschool-age children and prepared them for a 10-minute holiday program performance
-Reorganized 10 years’ worth of unwieldy files, making them easily accessible to department members

Get more detailed expert advice with this article about the administrative assistant’s resume and this list of top dos and don’ts for legal resumes.

The Legal Secretary Job Search



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