Dedicated to the progress and advancement of all paralegals.

Mentor Blog

Welcome to our mentor blog. Here you will find posts from
industry professionals on such topics as:
  • Resume & Cover Letter tips
  • Interview Tips
  • How to succeed at work
  • How to get a Mentor
  • What every Mentee should know
  • I lost my job. Now what?
  • Healthy habits
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  • 05 Feb 2024 9:50 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    The Quickest Way to Lose a Job Offer

    Bruce Hurwitz

    Jan 19 2024

    Years, alright, decades ago, I had a job interview. I arrived 10 minutes early, as I always did. I introduced myself to the receptionist, told her who I wanted to see, and sat down to wait. I waited 25 minutes and then returned to the receptionist, told her I was withdrawing my candidacy, wished her well, and walked to the elevator.

    Apparently, I did not see her do it, the receptionist had called the person with whom I had the appointment and told him I was leaving. As I got to the elevator, the man ran up to me and asked me where I was going, not why I was going. I told him a job interview was a two-way street and I didn't want to work for someone who keeps people waiting. (Yes, I arrived early but I left 15 minutes after the scheduled time for my appointment.) It's rude, shows bad time management skills, and was not what I was interested in.

    As this conversation began, the elevator doors opened. A woman who wanted to get out kept the doors open. She listened to the conversation. She introduced herself. She was the company's CEO. She apologized to me. I thanked her. She told the man I was supposed to meet with to meet her in her office.

    The next day, my phone rang. It was the CEO. She told me that she had fired the guy who had kept me waiting and asked me if I would reconsider my decision to withdraw my candidacy. I told her I couldn't as I had already accepted another job. You see, from their office I went to get something to eat and then had a second interview, where I was not kept waiting, and they made me an offer on the spot.

    I had heard of employers keeping candidates waiting to see how they would react. I never understood the rules of that game and cannot explain them. On a few occasions, I was kept waiting, but someone would come out, explain to me that there was a problem, apologize, offer me something to drink, and ask me to be patient. I would always thank them, decline the drink, if I had a time limit I would tell them, then I would patiently wait, usually reading something I had brought with me. Unlike in the previously related story, these people were polite and professional.

    Then there are the candidates who arrive late. Usually, that ends a candidacy. There is literally no excuse for being late. If a candidate is late for a job interview, it is safe to assume they'll be late for client and staff meetings. Why bother with them? (That's more of a statement than a question...)

    An acquaintance once related to me that a friend of his was having a problem. He owned a Starbucks franchise at a local airport. The position for which he was hiring required the employee to be on the job from 11 PM to 7 AM. Usually, new hires showed up for a few days but then were either constantly late or quit. He had an epiphany. To solve the problem, he interviewed candidates, not at his office in the city during regular business hours, but at 3 AM at the restaurant. If a candidate showed up for the interview, he was confident they would be at work, on time, and not quit. He was correct.

    There is an exception to every rule and there is one for having to be on time for a job interview. A candidate of mine lived in Brooklyn. The client was on Long Island. If traffic was good, and it never was, it would take at least an hour and a half to arrive. She left four hours early. After half an hour, being stuck in traffic half that time, she knew she would be late. She called the person with whom she was going to meet. (Never go to an interview without the contact information of the person with whom you are meeting!)

    If she had called an hour before the interview, there would not have been an interview. But since it was clear she had left with (usually) more than enough time, the client was happy to tell her to call to reschedule when she returned home. She also told her to get off the highway as soon as possible, as the road was blocked all the way to their offices as that was the site of the severe accident which was causing all the trouble.

    She rescheduled. The interview went fine but not great. There was another candidate who was a better match. But that candidate arrived 10 minutes late and did not apologize. They gave the job to my candidate. Draw your own conclusions!

    While we work with everyone, our mission is to promote the hiring of veterans and first responders.  Please consider us for all your staffing, career counseling and professional writing needs.



  • 25 Dec 2023 11:06 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    How to Raise Health Issues in a Job Interview

    By: Bruce Hurwitz

    Twice this happened to me:

    I was invited to speak (the first time at a local university and the second at the New York Public Library) on conducting a successful job interview from the perspective of the applicant. The question that was asked was simple: How to raise the issue of a medical condition for which the applicant will require a “reasonable accommodation,” which, according to the law, an employer must provide to an applicant suffering from a medical condition.

    I’ll use actual examples:

    One employer was located on the second floor of a “landmark building.” Landmark buildings are building which, for whatever reason, local authorities have designated as “landmark.” This means no changes can be made to the structure without government approval. And when I say “no changes,” I mean “no changes.” In one case, the owners could not even change door knobs without official permission!

    The applicant for the position with the employer on the second floor used a wheel chair. He neglected to mention that when the employer called to set up an initial interview. If he had, he would have been informed that there was no elevator. It was most assuredly not a “reasonable accomodation” for the employer to install an elevator or a chair lift leading to the second floor (even if by a miracle, and it would have taken a miracle) the government would have approved it. Needless to say, there was no interview.

    But that was an extreme case and, frankly, a foolish job applicant.

    The other cases I dealt with were simple. These concerned veterans. Most people think their problems are greater than they really are and veterans are no different. One had been shot in the knee and needed to sit at a desk that would enable him to stretch his leg out. Another could not tolerate bright lights and needed to wear sunglasses indoors. And a third could not sit with his back to the door. None of the employers for whom they were interviewed cared. The “accommodations” which they required were perfectly “reasonable,” and were immediately granted. The same thing was true for those dealing with a mental health issue and needed to be able to call their mental health professional occassionally or at regularly scheduled times. (One employer said to a candidate in that situation, “Don’t worry about it. You have to be crazy to work here!” Everyone laughed and, by the end of the day, he was hired.)

    At the speaking engagements I previously mentioned, the director who invited me to speak at the university, and my two co-panelists at the Library, all advised that persons requiring a “reasonable accommodation” should raise it once a job offer had been made. I vehemently objected. Here’s why:

    Just as job applicants learn everything they need to know about a company’s decision making process from what they experience being an applicant (and, hopefully, becoming a candidate), so too do companies learn what they need to know about an applicant, especially their values, from how they behave during the interview process. That’s why there are multiple interviews and multiple interviewers.

    Let’s consider the situation when at the end of the process, when an offer has been made, the candidate (who has advanced from being just an “applicant”) surprises everyone by announcing that they require a “special accommodation.” If the employer, in my opinion, is smart, they will immediately withdraw the offer. Why? Not because of the applicant’s needs but because of the flaw in their character. If they waited until literally the last moment to provide what is called “material information” about their needs, it is safe to assume that they will surprise potential clients, at the last moment, with information they, the potential clients, required at the start of the process to reach an informed decision. No one likes surprises, not potential clients, not actual clients, oh, and yes, not employers! (And in this case, the employer may rightly suspect that the applicant was setting them up for



    While we work with everyone, our mission is to promote the hiring of veterans and first responders.  Please consider us for all your staffing, career counseling and professional writing needs.

    How to Raise Health Issues in a Job Interview | Employment Edification (wordpress.com)


  • 26 Sep 2023 11:11 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    I once took a job in an AmLaw (top firms in the country) firm. Boy, was I excited! A big bump in salary; great title; opportunity to grow; the works. And then – I knew within 3 days that I had made a huge mistake. Huge. There was no question - this was going to be a “crying in the shower every morning” adventure.

    I had been recruited away from my previous firm, a well-known entertainment law firm. A top partner and the Director of Administration took me to lunch and told me of their hopes, wants, dreams and desires. I was so excited about the prospect that, when I look back on it, I never looked at the red flags. You know that old cliché – “once burned”…….

    As a candidate, you can ask all the questions possible. However, red flags are often in the nuances or the answers that you don’t get. If you have taken a position that was right for you every single time, you must be doing something right. Either that, or hitting fantastic, transparent firms.

    Here are 10 of the hottest red flags you don’t want to miss during the interview:

    1. Billable hours are not specified.

    Somehow, you failed to get information about a minimum number of billable hours or the firm skirted around the issue. Furthermore, the firm was not clear as to whether the minimum is a minimum or a mandatory goal or if you are penalized if you don’t go well beyond that number.

    2. Overtime is implied but vague.

    Answers such as “overtime from time-to-time” are not answers. You need to know if you are going to be working every New Years Eve and whether the amount of overtime is within your realm of reality. In these firms, quite frequently, once you get in, you find out your co-workers shame you if you leave after 8 hours every day.

    3. Work weekends for free.

    Some firms expect you to be available 24/7. They expect that you will answer emails or take calls on weekends or your days off without pay. Bear in mind that only managers and attorneys are exempt from overtime. If you are a paralegal, legal assistant or legal professional without a manager title, you must be paid overtime, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

    4. Overpromising.

    Perks are a way for firms to make an offer more attractive on top of the base pay. And, yet, when a firm is overly eager to agree to any of your requests, that might be a red flag. If it seems like they are overpromising you, most likely they are. In this tight candidate market, firms appear very willing to relax some of their prior hiring criteria. If they overpromise to you, they will overpromise to clients, and then you get overworked. Not a pretty picture.

    5. The firm concentrates on your advancement opportunities.

    While almost everyone wants to advance, an interview concentrating on where you can go as opposed to the job at hand, causes a full-fledged red alert. This is generally a sign that the job you are applying for is a) beneath your capabilities b) not so exciting c) you are not a fit.

    6. You don’t really find out why the position is open and how many people preceded you or in what time span.

    No firm likes to highlight continuous turnover in a role or even in the firm. There’s always some excuse. If you don’t get the answer in the interview, get on Glassdoor, www.glassdoor.com and check out the reviews from current and past employees. That’s usually a good indicator of what’s really going on. The firm will claim “disgruntled employees” but really, how many “disgruntled employees” can you have?

    7. You will be wearing several hats or working for many attorneys/supervisors or carry a very heavy caseload.

    New hires want to show they can handle new challenges and responsibilities. However, a definite red flag is the phrase: “You’ll be wearing many hats.” Over time, it’s likely you will be given the work of many but paid for one. Additionally, the firm is all over the place with their expectations. This is like taking a bow and arrow trying to aim for the target but each time you pull the bow back, the target moves.

    8. You are applying for the interviewer’s job.

    While interviewers certainly leave, you need to find out the real reason this person is leaving and most times, that’s practically impossible. “Moving on for greater challenges” may mean the job won’t be challenging for you. “Got recruited away” may mean they were open to new positions and the question is, “why?” Make sure that you interview with a team as the real reason might pop up. This can affect your decision making to move forward. Google the firm and be sure to check Glassdoor.

    9. No written job descriptions.

    When you hear things such as “just need a good trial lawyer or paralegal” or “typical legal assistant responsibilities”, a red flag should go up immediately. You have no idea what that

    firm’s idea of “typical responsibilities” are nor the nuances of the job. If you can’t get a job description, check LinkedIn for present or former employees that had the position and see what the expectations are.

    10. Your gut tells you no, but your head says, “Take the job, another one might not come my way”.

    Your gut is often underestimated. Gut reactions are not mysteries or come out of nowhere. There are studies that show the gut and brain are connected. Gut reactions are based upon past experiences, even if you can’t bring up the exact experience. If you are not hearing what you need to hear, go back and ask more questions and satisfy yourself that your gut reaction is correct. There’s really no way of knowing for sure. However, you don’t want to cry in the shower every morning because you neglected to get all the information you possibly could. This is a candidate tight market and there are approximately 4-5 jobs for every candidate. The trick is to pick the right one for the right reasons.

    Choosing the right job can be stimulating, rewarding and motivating. You aren’t always going to get all the answers all the time. However, you are in the legal field! Investigation, fact finding, and deep diving are all part of any legal professionals’ skills. Put those excellent talents to work and get the job of your hopes, wants, dreams and desires.

    Chere Estrin is CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing along with her pivotal roles within the medical records and deposition summarizing divisions - MediSums and DepoSums.

    She is President and co-founding member of the Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP), a legal technology training organization. Chere has held executive positions within AmLaw firms, litigation support companies, and as Senior Vice President of the legal staffing division within a $5 billion publicly held corporation. She is acknowledged as One of the Top 50 Women Leaders in Los Angeles and recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Chamber of Commerce “Women of Achievement” award.

    Chere’s expertise has been sought after by The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, CBS News, ALM, Law360, LA Times, Newsweek and numerous other media. Along with being a national speaker, she has penned 10 influential books centered around legal careers along with her award-winning blog, The Estrin Report. To connect with Chere, reach out at Chere@EstrinLegalStaffing.com


  • 26 Sep 2023 10:38 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    What is a “fulcrum?” For present purposes, it’s the thing that makes the thing the thing. Best example, a pair of scissors. The screw above the blades, holding the two handles together, is a fulcrum. Another example, a see-saw. The pipe, the centerpiece, that allows the persons on either end of the board to rise or fall, as the case may be, is the fulcrum. It’s what makes a board a see-saw.

    So what is the centerpiece that makes a job search successful? Most people will probably say something like this, all of which is true:

    The cover letter gets the recipient to look at the resume. The resume gets the recipient to contact the applicant for an interview. The applicant’s interviewing skills are what gets them the job offer.

    So, pick one. Is the cover letter the fulcrum? No. Is the resume the fulcrum? No? Are the applicant’s interviewing skills the fulcrum? Sort of, but you’ll have to keep reading.

    Alright. Bruce is being difficult. So, what comes before the cover letter, etc.? Creating a plan. No. Networking. No. All are important, but they all form a whole. They are not the one thing. There’s only one fulcrum. Without the aforementioned screw, scissors are not scissors, only two sharp blades that no one would want to use to cut cloth, or anything else for that matter. The padded seats and handles are all necessary, but they don’t make a board a see-saw. A board balanced on a pipe may be an ugly and unsafe see-saw, but it is a see-saw.

    The fulcrum of a successful job search is confidence. If the job seeker does not exude confidence while executing all stages of their plan, they will be unsuccessful. No one wants to recommend or hire someone who they believe is not sure of themselves.

    Consider the handshake. When you meet someone, and they give you a firm handshake while looking in your eyes and smiling, what do you think about them? When they hand you what I like to call a “dead fish” and don’t make eye contact, what do you think about them? Who would you hire?

    I hope the answer is the one with confidence because they are the one who will bring a fulcrum with them to work!

    The Fulcrum of a Successful Job Search | Employment Edification (wordpress.com)


  • 05 Sep 2023 9:13 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    The Perfect Resume

    Before you get excited, there is no such thing as a perfect resume. Anyone who tells you that the resume they will prepare for you will get you a job is either (a) a liar, (b) naive, or (c) does not know either the purpose of a resume or how it is read. Let’s discuss point c:

    Purpose of the Resume

    Regular readers of my articles know what I am about to write: The purpose of the cover letter is to get the recipient to look at the resume. The purpose of the resume is to get the interview. And, just to finish the trilogy, the purpose of the interview is to get the job offer.

    How a Resume is Read (By a Human)

    If it is a human who is reading the resume, it won’t (initially) be read. Who has the time? The recipient is looking for specific people, i.e., those who meet certain qualifications. They may have scores of resumes to review. By the time they get to yours they will be tired, so, at best, they willskim scan your resume (and they’ll skim it even if they are not tired because they don’t want to waste time with applicants who apply for every job they see in their industry regardless of their qualifications). You do not want tiredness, laziness, or eye-fatigue, to cost you an interview. So provide the recipient with the information they want in such a way that they cannot help but to find it.

    First, they want to know where you live. All they need to see, at the top of the first page of your resume, is your city and state of residence, not your address. You don’t know the type of person who will be looking at the resume, so don’t tell them where you live. (And, sorry that I have to write this, include your full name, phone number and email address. Your LinkedIn profile URL is also not a bad idea to include, but continue reading.)

    Second, they want to know if you can keep a job. Clearly show the dates (see below) of your employment per employer, not just position. So, for example, if you had five jobs, each for two years, but all for the same employer, show the dates for the employer in bold and the dates for each position in regular type. That way the recipient of the resume will know you can keep a job and that you were so good that you were promoted multiple times. You don’t want them to think that you had five jobs/employers in 10 years!

    Third, initially, they dont want to know your responsibilities but your accomplishments. In other words, focusing on what you did for previous employers will tell them what you can do for them. So begin the resume with “Selected Accomplishments” – a list of bullet points (see below) which succinctly list your major achievements.

    Fourth, have a section on your education clearly showing the degrees you actually earned. If you did not earn the degree, make that clear. If they need someone with an undergraduate degree, and you listed “Studied,” they may think you earned the degree. When they find out you didn’t, you’ll be out of a job. You can also note the expected date of graduation. Of course, if the degree is a requirement for the job, and you don’t have it, you are probably wasting your time. Applying for jobs for which you are not qualified will eventually lead to increased frustration, stress and lack of sleep.

    Fifth, list any certifications/licenses you have, indicating the issuer, date you were awarded, and, if applicable, the Number and expiration date.

    That is all a recipient will initially look at. If you are not actually qualified for the position, why should they bother reading the entire resume? The only thing that might save you is the list of Selected Accomplishments. If you saved your last employer millions of dollars, but are not a CPA, maybe they will make an exception if being a CPA is a qualification. Or, maybe, and more likely, they will consider you for something else.

    You might also list any volunteer activities with which you have been involved. You never know what will appeal to an employer. Also, to show that other people think you are great, list your speaking engagements, media citations, and publications. For academics, showing your Google Scholar URL is encouraged.

    So much for humans. Large companies initially have resumes scanned into Applicant Tracking Systems. In other words, they are first “read” by a computer. Think of the ATS as the gatekeeper, the assistant, once known as a “secretary,” who only lets certain people talk to the boss. Back in the day, you had to learn how to get past her (it was almost always a woman). Now you have to learn how to get past the ATS. Here’s how:

    How a Resume is Read (By a Computer – ATS)

    You have to assume that the company is using a “bad” ATS system. A “good” ATS should be able to “read” any resume. But let’s assume the ATS is bad. Here is what to remember:

    • Don’t worry about keywords. If your resume is honest and accurate, all the keywords will be there. If, for example, the job description says something about Yardi (software for property management), and you include “Yardi” in your resume, but have never used it, you’ll look foolish when being interviewed, won’t get the job offer, and will simply have wasted everyone’s time, including your own.
    • No hyperlinks (for your email address, LinkedIn profile, or anything else for that matter).
    • Don’t use a font smaller than 11 and use Calibri.
    • Don’t have any graphics, logos, pictures, boxes, or shadings (black background, white font), or use italics. Bold is alright. In any case, infographics are just silly. The recipient may look at it in a way not intended by the applicant. The best is to use words; that’s why Dr. Samuel Johnson invented them! Ecplain what your would have wanated to recipient to learn had you included infographics. Of course, if you are applying for a graphic designer position, including graphics may be to your advantage (as long as the company does not use an ATS.)
    • Don’t have any headers or footers. They won’t be “read.” Manually insert pages numbers, which brings me to my next point…
    • Keep the resume to no more than three pages. Apparently, some ATS systems don’t like to read alot!
    • Bullets should be a simple round black dot, as used here.
    • Submit your resume as a Word document as some ATSs don’t like PDFs or Google Docs, even if the online application accepts them (which makes no sense to me but I’m following the advice of the so-called “experts”).
    • For the record, ATSs apparently like to search for accomplishments, so my initial advice, which I have been giving since before there were ATSs, should be followed.
    • Dates of employment should be formatted as two-digit month slash four-digit year. If you are still employed, “- Present” is perfectly acceptable in lieu of a final date.

    Keep in mind that a resume is a summary. Under each job, don’t list all of your responsibilities. That’s a sign you can’t prioritize. Think of the resume as a teaser for the main event, the interview. It’s the commercial for the movie the producers want you to see. By all means have a “Skills” section. That can enable you to include keywords associated with some of your (previous) less important respsonsibilities.

    Good luck with your job search, and Have a happy Labor Day!

    The Perfect Resume | Employment Edification (wordpress.com)


  • 27 Mar 2023 2:58 PM | William Strachan


    ⚖️

    Good afternoon:

    First, I wish to express my gratitude to the NYCPA board for approving my attendance, as your Primary Representative, to the annual NFPA Joint Conference this coming weekend, Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1. I take my responsibilities in that position seriously to afford you the best possible advocacy.

    I am attaching below, for your benefit, the agenda of the workshops for the conference. I am asking you to review them and forward to me any questions, concerns, or other elements you should wish me to raise during the sessions or privately with the presenters particularly as they apply to NYCPA.

    You can forward those to me any time before or after the sessions. I will be taking notes, transcribing them next week and making them available.

    Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you.

    https://www.paralegals.org/files/conf/NFPA_2023_Joint_Conference_Agenda.pdf

    Sincerely,

    William Strachan
    NFPA Primary Representative

    NFPAPrimary@NYC-PA.org

    ESAPA Secondary Representative
    Email: nycpasecondary@nyc-pa.org; esapa@nyc-pa.org 
    Phone: 347-586-9272
    website: www.nyc-pa.org

  • 22 Mar 2023 1:50 PM | William Strachan

    Bill Strachan

    NYCPA NFPA Primary Representative 

    ⚖️

    Good afternoon fellow paralegals!

    Timely reminder! Spring    has sprung and it is almost time for the annual NFPA Joint Conference!

    Every year the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) offers a series of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) workshops called the Joint Conference (JC).

    In the interest of making it easier to incorporate them into your schedule, NFPA has consolidated the workshops into two (2) days instead of the traditional three (3).  This year they are being held Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1. We are not fooling when we say this is an excellent oportunity to catch up on the latest developments in our profession and advance your career.

    These are also extremely affordable. Each of the three (3) conference elements are only $40.00. There is also a free Friday night social to enable you to meet and interact with other paralegals from around the country.

    I encourage you to review the conference agenda below for all the details and how to register.

    I look forward to meeting and sharing with you at JC later this month.

    Be well and watch your six.

    PARALEGALS.ORG

    https://www.paralegals.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3283

  • 09 Mar 2023 9:20 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    How to Ruin Your Career in 5 Easy Steps

    by Chere B. Estrin

    As CEO of a prominent (yes, let’s acknowledge it here!), staffing organization, I talk to lots of unhappy or frustrated people, not exactly my favorite thing. As someone who loves coming to work, my Pollyanna attitude is that everyone should have the same experience. Sadly, that’s not the case. What I have found dealing with thousands of legal professionals throughout my career is that quite often, legal professionals blame the job they are in as the sole reason for unhappiness. As hard as it is to believe, many people do not recognize that their career has stalled. They blame frustration on the job they are in. It’s not necessarily the job, rather, how you are making choices about your career.

    A survey by VitalSmarts found that 83% of those surveyed had witnessed someone make a blunder that had catastrophic results for their career, reputation, or business, and 69% admitted that they themselves had done something that had damaged their careers:

    · 31% said it cost them a promotion, a raise, or even a job

    · 27% said it damaged a working relationship

    · 11% said it destroyed their reputation

    It’s time to wake up and recognize that you may be experiencing these symptoms:

    · Unhappiness with the firm, usually management

    · Routine and repetitious work translating to boredom

    · Lack of growth

    · Below market salary

    · Overwhelming amount of work

    · Consistently laid off

    · No upward movement (doing what you did 10 years ago)

    · Happy but like a puppy on a linoleum floor: lots of motion, going nowhere.

    Let’s put it on the table: Here are steps you may have taken that are ruining your career:

    1. Taking a job that you know you won't be good at. Sometimes people get so caught up in the quest to get a job offer that they forget to think critically about whether the job is one they'll be good at. That shortsightedness can lead to doing things like trying to hide key weaknesses, bluffing about your knowledge, or trying to sell yourself for a role despite reservations from the hiring manager. The danger here is that if it works, you'll have vastly increased the chances that you'll end up in a job where you struggle or even get fired. Muddling through is not a good option because that can have long-term effects on your reputation. Colleagues and managers who knew you in that job will think of you as mediocre (which is not what you want for future jobs). Plus, there's an cost of opportunity spending time in a job that you're not great at when you could have been spending that time building an excellent reputation somewhere else. Results? Inability to get a new job when the cat is out of the bag.

    2. You lack a sense of purpose. Purpose is a belief that your life matters and that you make a difference. It is a sense of being guided by meaningful values and goals. You will be most engaged in your work when the mission and goals of the organization also matter to you—and when you feel you can contribute to the bigger picture. We all want to build castles, not just lay bricks. When you have purpose, you experience:

    · Increased optimism, resiliency, and hope

    · Joy, happiness, and satisfaction experiences more often

    · Better physical health with a lower risk of death

    · Being a more engaged employee

    · Feeling a greater sense of belonging at the firm

    · Increased career satisfaction

    · Being a leader in the workplace

    · Higher income

    Are you aware of your sense of purpose? For example: you may be in a position assisting in corporate transactions. However, deep down inside, you would rather do something that is more community oriented, despite the probable lower pay. You may be in a large firm where you are a small cog in the wheel and cannot discern exactly what purpose you play other than putting more money in the shareholders’ pockets. That is not purpose and does not necessarily give you a sense of pride in your work. According to Forbes, you should strive to pursue a job or career that offers opportunity. Pursue work that is meaningful, intellectually challenging and spiritually rewarding. Find a job that enables you to help others, promotes positive change and serves a higher purpose. You want to ensure that your work is aligned with your core values and principles and could possibly make the world a better place. I understand that these are lofty, aspirational goals. It is rare to find work that offers a sense of purpose. In fact, it's more likely that your job won't offer intrinsic, meaningful rewards. You may enjoy the fact that your job is associated with a social status that people find impressive or that it helps you earn a nice living, but somehow, you still feel that something is missing. Can you sum up your purpose in one sentence? I, for example, say, “My purpose is to find people their dream jobs and when I do, I feel incredible career satisfaction that I have help make someone happy.” If you feel that there is a lack of purpose in your career, you can choose to make a change.

    3. You have stayed much too long at one job. There’s a bias these days against employees who stay much too long at one job. In past years, when your parents or grandparents were in the job force, they were rewarded with a gold watch and an office party as they retired from one job after being there umpteen years. Today, employers want to see that you have changed jobs. Why? If you haven’t, they think you show no ambition. If you stay in a job simply because it offers long-term security and you can do your work with your eyes closed, the best years of your career might slip by. This lack of ambition could come back to haunt you later when you're getting passed over for promotion and struggling to improve your earnings and workplace status. This always amused me because if there is anything that employers hate most of all, it’s someone who hops around.

    Staying too long doesn’t only hurt you with your current employer; it makes new employers shy away.

    While some staying power is attractive to an employer, they don’t want to invest in a new employee only to have them leave in a year or two. That’s considered job hopping. Many employers see the risk and cost of prying away a long-term employee as too great. They wonder if the person can adapt and how much drive and motivation they have.

    Here are the cons of staying in one place too long:

    · You end up knowing only the systems your firm has in place. When you go to another firm, you may not have the expertise you need. For example, there are legal professionals, particularly litigation paralegals, who have little eDiscovery experience. They don’t know the most popular software programs. They set out to get a new job and discover their options are extremely limited. Few employers today will hire without those skills. Can you say, “not very marketable”?

    · Your skills may become too niche and you are pigeonholed.

    · You can be viewed as “part of the furniture”. The reality of becoming “too comfortable” at a firm is that powers that be don’t really see your skills and importance. They assume that you will always be there. Like the desk or the wall, you’re part of the landscape. This can cause your compensation and potential career path to fall behind the market as your employer pays more attention to newer employees. Frequently, you are passed over for promotions.

    · New and current employers alike wonder if you can adapt and how much drive and motivation you have.

    · You make less money as over the years, you typically receive a cost-of-living increase but never a huge jump as you might if you change jobs.

    When you stay in the same job, or at the same level, for too long, you will get typecast. This damages your career success because it gets harder for people to envision you in a different position or at a senior level. If your goal is to be in management, don’t overstay your role as an individual contributor. If your goal is to be a supervisor, apply for jobs that provide that responsibility earlier rather than later in your career. If you are the assistant but want to be the team leader, get your game plan together and work it. Do what it is that you need to do. Trust me, your firm is not going to do it for you.

    There are some pros to staying in one place: consistency, larger bonuses, internal advancement, and gaining expertise. It’s a good rule of thumb to consider the 7-10-year mark as a critical point in decision making as to whether you’re a “lifer” at your current firm. For some folks, being a “lifer” is just fine, however, it is important to consider the career limiting aspects of this decision. Just remember, if you are not an attorney, the chances of becoming a partner are not going to happen. (I hope this is not the first you are hearing this……) On the other hand, if you are an attorney and shooting for partnership track, most tracks today are 6-7 years and staying put may be the right thing to do.

    4. Assuming good work will be recognized. This is huge. Most employees think, “If I do a good job, the firm will notice, and I will get great raises or promoted.” Guess what? The firm hires you to do a good job. That’s what you are expected to do. If you’re a hard worker, it’s easy to just assume all your efforts are getting noticed by management, without bragging about your successes. However, in many instances, your manager won’t even notice what you’ve done or that you’ve gone the extra mile in your work. All the while your less-than-competent colleagues have risen through the ranks because they were able to point out their contributions to the firm’s overall success. I know it’s hard to brag. However, there are ways to do this without seeming pretentious. It’s absolutely imperative you get the word out about your successes. (That’s a whole other article.)

    In a similar vein, don't assume there is an established 'pecking order' within your firm and an orderly queue for promotion. Firms want to keep their best people onboard and motivated and this means allowing talented professionals to rise through the ranks. If you're seen as someone who has leadership potential, you may be able to secure a promotion before your natural turn. Ways to achieve this include volunteering for extra responsibilities, exceeding billable hours, leading a team, finding a way to increase efficiencies and boosting revenue. However, if you are a paralegal in a firm without avenues to move up the ladder, it may be time to go.

    5. No career goals. Frequently, when I give seminars or interview candidates, I will ask, “What are your career goals?” Most of the time, they will tell me what they don’t want. (I don’t want to work overtime; I don’t want to work for a large firm; etc.) But they cannot articulate what they do want. That’s because they haven’t set any career goals. In fact, the majority of legal professionals do not have career goals. They are of the opinion that the firm will notice them and do something about their career. Not happening for you? I am not surprised. The old trite and meaningless, “What will you be doing in five years?” can rarely be answered. Is this you? Are you letting your career drive you rather than driving your career? Hmmmm……probably. This would be akin to taking a bow and arrow and aiming for that round target with the red circle in the middle. Just as you go to pull the bow and arrow, someone removes the target. Then what?

    Additionally, if you want to move forward, you are going to have to map out a route to get to your destination. What goals are you going to achieve and by when? Do you want to be a team leader but are now just part of the team? What do you have to do to meet that goal? Believe me, no one is just going to pick you out of the crowd. Do you need to take a course? Get cross-trained in a different specialty? Give up your remote position and go onsite? Plan, plan, plan. And, if you are a person of “a certain age”, start asking yourself, “How do I want to go out?” Reality, folks. Reality.

    At the end of the day, no one is going to look out for your success better than you, and if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. Don’t ever presume that you will eventually be rewarded. There are far too many people calling me because they are unhappy and they think it’s the job, not the choices they have made. Frequent searching for “the next thing” is not the best strategy. Once every two years is probably a good cadence for checking what your next challenge should be, inside or outside your current firm. Most people think that all it takes to destroy one’s career is a huge mistake. But sometimes even the small mistakes can pile up and before you know it, you’re the miserable and calling me……(not that I don’t want to hear from you!)

    Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top nationwide staffing organization with a five-star Google Business Review rating. She has been a well-known name in the field for over 20 years. She was recently interviewed by The Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine (www.estrinreport.com) and was named “One of the Top Women Leaders in Los Angeles” She has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. She received the prestigious Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and was a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. Chere is a founder of the well-known nationwide Paralegal SuperConferences and a co-founding member of IPMA (International Practice Management Association).. She gives numerous webinars including those for Lawline and LawPractice. She is a former administrator at an AmLaw 200 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. Reach out at: chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com or visit her website at www.EstrinLegalStaffing.com.


  • 14 Feb 2023 7:01 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Access the article here: https://nyl.co/3JWlsDz

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