As you work your way through the Legal Secretaries Diploma course, there may be a part of you that feels anxious about how you are going to secure a job as a Legal Secretary or PA. This is perfectly understandable. Rest assured that some of the other students will be feeling exactly the same way. The good news is that there are some excellent resources on offer when you decide to study through the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs, and these include CV help, career guidance and access to a wealth of information that could really help you to move forward.
How to beat the competition for legal secretary jobs
While there is a huge demand for Legal Secretaries and PAs, this does not mean to say that the perfect role of employment is going to drop into your lap once you have received your Diploma. You need to be aware that there will be competition for jobs in this field and that applying for a job as a Legal Secretary requires an application that is of an exceptionally higher level than you might have been accustomed to in the past.
There are many positions advertised through ILSPA’s Legal Secretary Jobs Board. Legal secretary jobs are also advertised on Simply Law Jobs. For all job applications you need to ensure your application is as professional as possible. The first aspect you need to concentrate on, therefore, is your CV.
The power of a tailored CV
The average CV is often boring and nondescript and has not been tailored appropriately for the role. CVs can be put together with very little thought to the font style and layout; they might also waffle on about completely irrelevant points in consideration of the role of employment being applied for; most important, they often fail to grab a potential employer’s attention within the first few seconds of review. It is this first step that is of the greatest importance to you: You simply must set out your CV in such a way as to grab the reviewer’s interest. Otherwise, you will simply be placed on the rejection pile. This means that you need to take a very good look at the way your CV appears. Be brutally honest with yourself here: Does it scream boring? It is too long? Is it too generic?
If you answer yes to any of the questions above, it is time to do something about it. This is how the Institute can help you. We provide a CV help document that provides advice in creating your own CV, or alternatively we can provide you with personal help to make the necessary amendments for you. We ensure that you can present a high-quality and professional-looking document which will show your skills and abilities in the best light possible.
A stand out covering letter
Next, and of equal importance, is the covering letter that would be sent along with your CV to the potential employer. It is so important not to be generic with this letter. Do not be tempted to save a template letter which you simply send out with every application, as employers will see right through this and reject you far more readily. This is your strongest opportunity to sell yourself for the job you are applying for, and this will always take an element of research on your part. The Institute provides advice on writing covering letters in our career guidance manual and we can also personally provide amendments for you if you send us a copy.
Take some time to research the firm or company you are applying to join as a legal secretary, and feel free to mention your findings in the covering letter. If possible, emphasise the major achievements of this firm and stipulate how you were impressed to learn of this. Any employer will be more amenable to a potential candidate who has taken the time to find out more about them. However, do not go overboard with these inclusions. Try to keep these points clear and relevant.
The most successful applications for legal PA and secretary jobs will always be the ones that manage to stand out from the competition. You need to think about grabbing the potential employer’s attention in your CV, and your covering letter needs to prove that you have physically taken the time to research the firm which you are applying to. Be a true perfectionist with every element of the application stage and this approach will be more successful for you.
By Quin Hoskins, ILSPA
ILPSA provides recognised qualifications, professional recognition for their Members and their development, as well as support and career guidance to trainee and experienced Legal Secretaries and PAs.