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Career Corner: Creating Your Résumé

Posted By Tashania Morris, MSHRM, ALS, CDF, CPC, Friday, February 3, 2017

You’ll never get a second chance to make a good first impression ~ Anonymous

Writing a résumé can sometimes be hard, especially if you have no experience or are currently transferring from one line of work to another.  Your résumé is a marketing tool designed to get you an interview.  The interview is what gets you the job.  Most recruiters do not spend a lot of time reading through résumés.  The information should be presented in a clear and concise manner that is attractive for a recruiter to review. 

It is important to note that everyone has their own preferences when it comes to résumés.  At the end of the day your résumé should represent you and you should be proud to hand it out.  If you are not comfortable doing so, then your résumé is not a reflection of you and your work product.  It is not a good idea to have someone draft a résumé that does not represent you.  During the interview process you might have difficulty talking about something that is not a clear representation of you.  Make sure you have some input and understand what is being drafted.

Make sure:

·      Your résumé is no more than 1-2 pages long.

·      There are no typos or grammatical errors.

·      It is not too wordy (everyone battles with this).

·      There are no lies.

·      You are including the right keywords.  Your résumé should be tailored to the job for which you are applying.

·      Information is bulleted and easy to read.

·      When using an ATS system to apply for a job, stay away from fancy résumé designs.  Fancy résumés can be emailed.

Types of Résumés

Chronological

It is easy to read and the dates are easy to follow.  Your most recent jobs are listed first and it showcases your achievements and promotions.  This is great if you have had a stable work history and are looking to advance in your career.  It is not the best choice for entry-level candidates with little or no experience.

Functional Résumé

The functional résumé emphasizes skills, abilities, and strengths rather than the length of time you have been at a job.  It is a great way to cover any gaps in your résumé and can be used by recent graduates who lack the required experience. 

Combination

This is a combination of both chronological and functional.  It emphasizes your most recent jobs and showcases your accomplishments.  It is great for individuals looking to change career paths and have the transferable skills to do so.

Heading

 

Please include your name, address (may include just city or state), telephone number, and email address.

 

Career Objective/Summary of Qualification

 

Every résumé should have a summary statement or a career objective to catch the recruiter’s attention.  There are a lot of different opinions about whether a career objective is still necessary.  If you choose to use one, make sure it is tailored specifically toward the job you are applying for.  A summary, on the other hand, informs the employer about what you can do for them.  It is a great way to sell yourself in a couple of sentences in order to get the recruiter interested in what you have to offer. 

 

An example of an objective statement:

·      Seeking an entry level legal assistant position in a family law firm

·      To secure a position as a corporate  legal secretary in a growing law firm

An example of a summary:

·      A dedicated and results-driven professional with over 10 years’ experience as a legal administrator.  Proven track record of excellent leadership skills and business acumen.

Skills/Abilities

This section should include the skills you have developed over the years.  List both your soft and hard skills. 

·      Lexis Nexis 

·      Timeslips

·      Pro Docs

·      Excellent Communication Skills

·      Landtech

Experience

This may be the most challenging part of preparing a résumé.  Instead of just listing duties and responsibilities, try listing your major achievements, contributions, and accomplishments.  You should also include the title, company name, city, and dates of employment.  This section can include paid/unpaid positions.  Try to quantify where possible.

·      Managed a caseload of over 100 cases monthly.  (This gives the recruiter an idea of the amount of work you can handle.)

·      Managed a team of 20 employees including attorneys and support staff.

Education

 

List your degrees, certifications, and academic achievements

 

Professional Organizations

 

List the professional organizations you are currently a part of and any leadership role you took on.

 

Here are some resources to help with your job search:

 

·      This can be used to see if your job matches the job description of the position you are applying for.  https://www.jobscan.co/

·      http://rickgillis.com/job-sample-documents/

·      http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/

 

Once your résumé is completed, have someone review it to ensure there are no errors.  It is hard to spot errors because you are the one working on it.  If writers have editors, why shouldn’t you?

 


 

Tashania Morris, MSHRM, ALS, CDF, CPC, started her career as a paralegal.  She has over six years’ experience in the legal field specializing in the areas of foreclosure and bankruptcy.  She recently completed her master’s degree in human resource management which has equipped her with the tools needed to think strategically and develop creative solutions to problems in the workplace.  As a Certified Professional Coach and Career Development Facilitator, she loves all things career and personal development.  She is able to recognize people’s skills and abilities and enjoys working with individuals to figure out their “why.”  Her mission is to engage, empower, educate, and promote change from within.  If you have any questions about any of the articles written, suggestions about something you would like Tashania to write about, or enjoyed reading the article, send her a quick note.  You can reach Tashania at Tashania_m@hotmail.com.

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Grammar Nuggets: Capitalizing State

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Friday, February 3, 2017

As an addition to December’s NALS docket article, I found that the capitalization of the word “state” is obviously very confusing depending on your preferred resource.

 

According to The Gregg Reference Manual, “state” should be capitalized:

 

·       When it is part of the full name of the state as in the State of Arizona

·       When the word it modifies is capitalized as in the State Corrections Director

·       When referring to the state as a party to litigation or a governmental actor as in “The State filed a Motion to Dismiss.”

 

Most other sources I have found disagree with Gregg’s first example and say that “state” should not be capitalized when used as a proper noun but is capitalized when used in place of a particular state or referring to a specific governmental body:

 

·       The residents of the state of California have a reputation for being healthier than most.

·       The corporation, registered to do business in the state of California, is actually an Arizona corporation.

 

According to another favorite resource of attorneys, The Chicago Manual of Style, “where the government rather than the place is meant, the words state, city, and the like are usually capitalized.”

 

·       The State of Florida’s statutes regarding corporations are codified at Title XXXVI.

 

Another resource simplifies it as when you are using “state” as a common noun, you would not capitalize it:

 

·       She loved visiting the Northwestern states because she loved the rain.

·       The state of California has a beautiful coastline.

 

But do capitalize “state” if it is part of a proper name:

 

·       I love visiting Washington State (as opposed to Washington, D.C.—although I love visiting there too).

·       I have visited New York City, but not the rest of New York State (capitalized to differentiate between New York City and New York State).

 

All resources agree that “state” should be capitalized when it is a party to litigation.

 

·       The response to the Motion to Dismiss was filed by the State yesterday.

 

The only comfort in all this confusion is that obviously everyone is confused. In fact, in many recent U.S. Supreme Court cases, “state” is capitalized in different instances, which may be a holdover from style from the eighteenth century when many common nouns are capitalized. Remember, however, that if you are studying for a NALS certification exam, The Gregg Reference Manual is the resource used, so learn those examples for the capitalization of “state.”

 


 

Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, has been a member of NALS for over 30 years, is the current President of NALS of Phoenix, and is the Vice Chair of the NALS Editorial Board. Kathy is currently the Administrator-Arizona for Sacks, Ricketts & Case in Phoenix, Arizona. Kathy earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Legal Assisting (with distinction) from Phoenix College. In her spare time, when she is not spending time with her husband, two kids, and seven grandchildren or celebrating something with friends, Kathy writes a blog on proofreading tips at http://proofthatblog.com

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Grammar Nuggets: Confusing Contractions

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Contractions are used to indicate where letters are missing in a word. I think that because there may be apostrophes involved, contractions and possessive pronouns are often confused. If the word shows possession, use an apostrophe as necessary to show that possession. If letters are missing from a word, the apostrophe shows where those letters are missing. Some of the most confusing examples are:

 

its (possessive)

their (possessive)
theirs (possessive)
your (possessive) 

it’s (it is OR it has)

they’re (they are) OR there’re (there are)
there’s (there is OR there has)
you’re (you are)

 

If you’re not sure which is correct, test substituting “it is, it has, they are, there are, there is, there has, or you are,” whichever is appropriate, in place of the word that is confusing you. If the substitution does not make sense, it is not a contraction, so you should use the appropriate possessive form.

 

The dog was chewing on its paw. (“Chewing on it is paw” does not make sense.)

HOWEVER: It’s time to get ready to leave for the party. (“It is time” does make sense.)

He said, “Your car is leaking oil.” (“You are car” does not make sense.)

HOWEVER: She said, “You’re welcome” when he thanked her for the gift. (“You are welcome” is correct.)

Their house was beautifully landscaped. (“They are house” does not work.)

They’re in their house with all the lights on. (“They are in their house” is correct.) 

 

Try the substitution test if you aren’t sure if a contraction is appropriate. If it is not, use the proper possessive word. In legal documents, contractions are not used as they are really used for more informal, friendly writing. A legal document is more formal and in an effort to avoid any confusion and keep it more formal, contractions are rarely appropriate. Again, however, this may be a matter of style and preference for a specific attorney. So go out and use contractions at will—except in legal documents and where it isn’t a contraction. 



 Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, has been a member of NALS for over 30 years, is the current President of NALS of Phoenix, and is the Vice Chair of the NALS Editorial Board. Kathy is currently the Administrator-Arizona for Sacks, Ricketts & Case in Phoenix, Arizona. Kathy earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Legal Assisting (with distinction) from Phoenix College. In her spare time, when she is not spending time with her husband, two kids, and seven grandchildren or celebrating something with friends, Kathy writes a blog on proofreading tips at http://proofthatblog.com

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Ask Eula Mae: Social Media and Work

Posted By NALS Editorial Board, Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dear Eula Mae:

 

I am a new legal secretary at a large law firm and even though the human resources department gave me a tour and an employee manual, nothing was said about our use of social media.  I try so hard to have a good profile on Facebook and post tons of photos.  My concern is that maybe some of the photos do not show me in the best light, perhaps not professional, but may look like I am a party girl, when I am not really.  What do I do about keeping a professional profile outside of the office?

 

Fun Girl

 

 

Dear Fun Girl:

 

We live in a world where information is everything.  That means we must be careful of our social media profiles.  A friend can “tag” you in an unflattering photo on Facebook and what if they tag you in your “freewheeling” days?  This is probably not the image you wish to project as a legal professional.  Remember, you are an extension of your boss and your firm.  It all goes back to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in that the attorney is responsible for the non-attorney personnel who work for them.  Avoiding even the appearance of impropriety is important to all the top professions.  In a large law firm, there may be a policy that describes what you should or should not post on social media—certainly not anything about any clients.  In a smaller office or a sole practitioner’s office, this might not be the case, so how do you manage that?  You could open a profile with a pseudonym to keep your information (somewhat) confidential and do not “friend” people that you do not know.  To guard your professional identity, choose carefully what you post and manage who can look at your profile.  Also, use your phone to access Facebook (on your own time and not on office time) rather than the computer on your desk at work.

 

Eula Mae

 


 

 

Submit Your Questions To Ask Eula Mae By Clicking Here.

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Career Corner: Being Thankful for Failures

Posted By Tashania Morris, MSHRM, ALS, CDF, CPC, Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Being Thankful for FailuresFear of failure sometimes keeps people locked in little boxes.  It is like having two monkeys on your shoulders, one saying, “You can do it” and the other saying, “You cannot do it!”  It will not work—stay safe and stop the madness.  For some weird reason, the monkey with the louder voice is the one telling you to be safe—it yells, screams, and tap dances on your shoulder, but most of the time it just will not shut up, simply because you will not let it.  Napoleon Hill once said, “Fears are nothing more than states of mind.  One’s state of mind is subject to control and direction.”  Failure begins and ends in the mind.  


This past year has been challenging.  I left a job that most people would consider a “good job” and, at the time I did it, I was convinced it was the best decision of my life.  Yes!  I stepped out, took the plunge, and then thought, “What now?”  In my mind, I had been planning it for years and finally I was able to silence the monkey on my shoulder and took action.  Truth is, while I really enjoyed the legal field, I fell in love with HR and really immersed myself in it.  I felt that my legal background was a perfect marriage with my HR degree.  I joined organizations, found mentors, and then the monkey—the one I silenced—came back.  It started to dance on my shoulder yelling even louder asking, “What are you doing?”  All my fears and insecurities resurfaced.  I remembered graduating from undergrad and not being able to find a paralegal job.  The monkey reminded me of how hard I worked, it showcased the career chances I had taken along the way, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I should have waited.  Maybe I should not have made the career move.  That other voice—the quiet one—would speak up once in a while.  The crazy thing is, when it spoke up, it was wise and firm.  It reminded me that if I had not taken the plunge, I would have regretted it five to ten years from now.  I would have always wondered, “What if?”


When my plunge did not really work out exactly the way I planned in my mind, I started to retreat and stay safe, becoming more and more risk averse.  Why?  The fear of failure.  Fear of failure keeps people at jobs they hate, in relationships they need to leave, and hinders progress.  I decided to research the reasons why companies fail and what makes people successful.  I realized that it is not allowing fear to paralyze your decisions—that sometimes you have to act even when you are fearful.


Starting over reminded me of what “no” felt like.  No’s can bring forth a certain level of insecurities; however, with determination, persistence, and a lot of self-talk, I really believe you can accomplish your goals by setting realistic expectations.


Failure lessons

 

Making mistakes is a part of life.  In a Harvard Business Review article, William McKnight, the chairman of 3M states, “The best and hardest work is done in the spirit of adventure and challenge . . . Mistakes will be made.” (Birkinshaw & Haas, 2016)  The article talks about experimenting with failure and how organizations can use failures to maximize their return if and when they fail.  The article lists three things that companies can use to get a return on failure: 

  • Learn from every failure 
  • Share the lessons 
  • Review your pattern of failure

(Birkinshaw & Haas, 2016)


Do not forget that being fearful to step outside of your comfort zone will hinder your growth.


Things that failure taught me during this season 


Perfection—You do not have to be perfect to step out.  The idea of pure perfection can keep you from trying anything.  You might never be good enough.  

 

Procrastination—Failure to act will leave you stagnant.  Before you know it, you will be stuck at a job you promised yourself would only last a year.


Comparison—Most of us base our feelings of failure on other people’s definition of success.  You might see someone else climbing the ladder; however, you do not know what struggles that person had to overcome to get to the top.  Figure out what success means to you and be brave—own it and be your authentic self. 


Fear of Success—Believe it or not, some people fear success.  They will sabotage their own work by being mediocre. 


Criticism—People are going to have an opinion and you have to know how to filter constructive criticism from “haters.”  It is always wise to seek counsel from mentors and people that have walked the path.  Try not to be too hard on yourself. 


During this period of uncertainty, I had to remind myself that even though I did not necessarily get everything I was hoping for, I accomplished most of my goals.  The no’s taught me resilience, perseverance, and, most of all, that sometimes it is okay to fail as long as you learn from them.  “Failure is less painful when you extract the maximum value from it.  If you learn from each mistake, large and small, share those lessons, and periodically check that these processes are helping your organization move more efficiently in the right direction, your return on failure will skyrocket.”  (Birkinshaw & Haas, 2016).  Failures are just lessons you needed to learn.  



Tashania Morris, MSHRM, ALS, CDF, CPC, started her career as a paralegal.  She has over six years’ experience in the legal field specializing in the areas of foreclosure and bankruptcy.  She recently completed her master’s degree in human resource management which has equipped her with the tools needed to think strategically and develop creative solutions to problems in the workplace.  As a Certified Professional Coach and Career Development Facilitator, she loves all things career and personal development.  She is able to recognize people’s skills and abilities and enjoys working with individuals to figure out their “why.”  Her mission is to engage, empower, educate, and promote change from within.  If you have any questions about any of the articles written, suggestions about something you would like Tashania to write about, or enjoyed reading the article, send her a quick note.  You can reach Tashania at
Tashania_m@hotmail.com.



 

References 
Birkinshaw, J., & Haas, M. (2016, May ). Increase Your Return on Failure. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2016/05/increase-your-return-on-failure.

 

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