Given the fact that a paralegal is trained in ancillary legal matters, it only makes sense that a paralegal résumé needs to be well-written, comprehensive and, of course, persuasive. And, given that lawyers are undoubtedly inundated with a multitude of paralegal résumés at any given time, your paralegal résumé must be able to stand out from the crowd of similar professionals with similar qualifications.
Things to Consider in Developing an Effective Paralegal Résumé
When writing your paralegal résumé, it is important to remember that your résumé should be a clear indicator of your achievements and successes, not crowded with details that do little more than distract and confuse. Consider the following when crafting your paralegal résumé:
Compose an objective statement that briefly states your value. Always, always avoid generic or substance-less objective statements that provide little to no insight to your career goals. Instead, step back and focus on the skills and knowledge you have obtained and how they speak of your worth and significance as a paralegal. But beyond an objective statement, consider a short introduction that highlights a few of the professional traits you are proud of. Your enthusiasm about the profession should be felt in this opening statement, so think beyond simply skills and qualifications.
Instead of simply listing your areas of legal expertise, experience or specialized skills, consider constructing something more visually appealing like a table to highlight them. You may decide to list each job you’ve held down the left side of the table and then a skills or areas of expertise column along the top of the table. For example, you may choose to list your skills or areas of expertise you developed within each job as “family law,” “general liability,” or “insurance litigation.” Or, if you are in search of your first paralegal job, you may want to instead highlight the skills you’ve gained through education, such as “technical writing” or “medical terminology.”
Work History and Other Experience
When penning your work history on your paralegal résumé, don’t hesitate to explain your job duties in detail, as employers will want to learn the scope of your job, particularly if you handled duties outside of the typical paralegal job scope. Some of the duties you might list may include: drafting legal correspondence, conducting investigation, taking witness statements, handling discovery materials, and requesting documents.
If you don’t have any paralegal experience, now is the time to list your skills and qualifications gained elsewhere. If you have other types of experience, such as administrative experience, list your acquired skills applicable to paralegal work, such an ability to interpret and draft official documents. List your written and verbal communications skills and how you have successfully used them in past positions or educational settings.
Because one of the most important parts of a paralegal’s résumé is the education and certifications/licenses section, it is important to give this section extra care to ensure all information is accurate and concise. List your college education, including the name of the degree received, the university or college where you obtained your education, and the name of the program. Don’t forget to highlight the completion date of your paralegal certification, as well as your ABA-approved paralegal program. If your state requires a paralegal license, remember to include your license number for verification.
Another important section of your résumé is volunteer experience. Volunteer work, particularly for charitable organizations that provide free legal services, shows a commitment to your community and to your profession.