Key steps in securing a legal secretary job
Without a doubt, legal secretaries keep the law sector moving, and becoming a legal secretary will lead to a rewarding career within law. Here, the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA) explains exactly what needs to be done to secure a job as a legal secretary.
As a professional body, ILSPA exists to support and advise legal secretaries at all stages of their career. ILSPA not only provides Legal Secretaries with professional qualifications but also helps them secure employment. Whether it is their first legal secretarial role or time to progress, our Students and Members can benefit from expert advice on the complete job seeking process which will ensure that they achieve their goals.
Legal secretaries are in great demand and are able to earn good salaries. If you are a graduate of ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma, you will be very appealing to law firms and recruiters, as you will already have a substantial knowledge of various areas of law and legal procedures. Job prospects for legal secretaries are very good, as the more experience and knowledge you gain, the higher your position and salary will be.
There are some key steps that you must consider in order to secure employment as a legal secretary:
Preparing for the job seeking process
As with any job search you must plan carefully before starting to apply for roles. In doing so, you are more likely to secure your desired legal secretary position. Your main objective in a job search is to market yourself. You must think of yourself as the product and the prospective employer as the customer. Businesses have to market their products in order to obtain sales, so too must you market yourself in order to obtain a position. Therefore, your first step should be to have a good think about your skills, experience and attributes, and what you have to offer a firm. Establishing this at the beginning of your search will give you confidence when writing your CV, approaching recruiters or potential law firms and attending interviews.
What skills, experience and attributes do you have?
Recruiters can be very selective when choosing the right person to put forward for a job and they look for candidates who have the relevant skills, experience and attributes required by their firms. You need to ensure that you possess what employers are looking for when applying for roles. Self-assessment of your skills helps you to understand what kind of role you are capable of. It may be that you have achieved a legal secretary qualification or have legal secretary experience. You may also have transferrable skills which have been acquired through another job. Ensure you check job descriptions carefully to see what qualities and skills a recruiter has specified. Make sure you are promoting and highlighting how you possess these skills in your applications.
Writing your CV and covering letter
A CV is your first chance to make a good impression on an employer. A high-quality CV will boost your chance of getting an interview, so it is vitally important that the content is tailored for the position you are applying for, is presented neatly and looks professional. Not only must you write an excellent CV, but you must also put together an equally good covering letter. You should think of your CV as a product and the covering letter as an advertisement for that product. Recruiters will receive a lot of applications for each vacancy so your covering letter must catch their attention and make them want to go on and read your CV. An employer is not only interested in you but also in how he or she can benefit from employing you.
Honing a positive attitude
Having the necessary skills, experience and attributes for the job is essential but you also need to acquire the right attitude. Searching for a job can be taxing, however if you begin a job search with a positive attitude you are more likely to remain motivated to achieve your goal. You must have confidence in your abilities and worth, and make sure that you not only shine on paper in your CV and covering letter, but also when you meet recruiters for interviews. Believe in your capabilities, see obstacles as learning experiences, and don’t give up! You can find some fantastic articles in ILSPA's online legal secretary journal. They cover such topics as positive thinking, communicating assertively and gaining confidence.
Applying for positions
It may be that you’re looking for your first job in the legal profession or it may be that you’re looking to move firms. After establishing what you can offer an employer, the next step is to take a look at the different types of legal secretary positions available so that you know what role you are capable of. There are a variety of roles available for legal secretaries, from junior and trainee positions to those that require someone with existing secretarial skills and a Legal Secretary qualification, and others that require legal secretarial experience. If you do not have any experience, recruiters are very willing to employ people with recognised legal secretarial qualifications and good secretarial skills, especially if you have studied through ILSPA. ILSPAs Legal Secretary Jobs Board has a wealth of different positions advertised for legal secretaries throughout the UK.
If you are successful in being offered an interview, you can assume your CV has made a good impression so you need to ensure that you make the best of your opportunity. Remember that the purpose of an interview is to provide the recruiter with an opportunity to assess your suitability for the role and compare your abilities to other applicants. Think about the questions that you may be asked during the interview, and take time to prepare responses. Make sure to answer anything in a positive and self-assured manner. Interviews can differ depending on the recruiter and their preferred style, so be ready for various approaches and techniques. It is also important to be interested and to inquire as much as you can about the position offered, as well as displaying knowledge of the firm to show that you have performed research on them. This will show recruiters that you are serious and enthusiastic about the job. When the interview ends, ask what the next step in the hiring process will be and when you can expect to hear from them. This gives you insight into the expected time frame for hiring so you can follow up accordingly.
When applying for positions, you won’t always hear back. Recruiters can receive a lot of applications for jobs and sometimes do not have the time to respond to every candidate. But do not let this deter you – keep on persevering! You may not be suitable for that particular role, but there will be plenty of other vacancies you can apply for where you have the requirements employers are looking for. Similarly when attending interviews, if you are not successful, try and see it as a positive learning experience. You can send a polite follow-up email requesting feedback and think about how you can do better in the future.
Good preparation is vital when looking for work and success can be yours! Good luck in securing your desired legal secretary role. Please do not hesitate to contact ILSPA if you need further advice. We offer full guidance on securing employment to all our Students and Members.
Next article: Working wisdom: advice from legal secretaries and PAs
The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs is a professional body who are dedicated to your career every step of the way. Whether you would like to become a legal secretary or you would like to advance your legal secretary career, they are there to support you through your journey. For more information visit institutelegalsecretaries.com.
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