Find an A-Player Paralegal, Part IV

The job description

The articles in this series build on each other, and the last article was no exception.  If you missed Part III, take a minute to read it now before reading this fourth article.  Don’t worry, we’ll still be here when you get done.

At this point in the series, you should 1) know what you need help with, and 2) have a list of related tasks and 3) relative traits and qualities. If you’re looking to hire an employee, it’s time to turn that information into a job description.   If you’re going to retain a freelance paralegal or paralegal support service, you need to develop it into a bullet list, summary, or other form of information that you can refer to as you discuss your needs and goals with prospective services.

Don’t hold back as you’re organizing and drafting the description or summary.  Rather than sugar-coat the description, describe the tough side of the job.  For example, you may note that the information handled within your practice is sometimes emotionally difficult to deal with; or that the nature of the practice lends itself to sometimes ungrateful clients who must be dealt with both professionally and compassionately; or perhaps you yourself are difficult to work with and you need someone with tough skin.  The list could go on forever, but the idea is to give an incumbent a gruelingly realistic picture of what is involved.  Mike calls this the “inoculation method.”

There are many reasons for highlighting the less-than-ideal aspects of the job.  First, it’s an automatic filter for applicants.  Only those who are comfortable with the requirements and circumstances will apply for the position.  It also increases the number of qualified applications you receive.  If you’re looking for a paralegal support service, the service can tell you immediately whether its services are a good fit for your practice – before each of you spends too much time discussing services and reviewing contracts.  Employees and paralegal support services that already know the nitty gritty details of the paralegal support needed will willingly accept the work and have a better sense of the job, which means they’ll be happier in the work they do for you and will do a better job for you, as well.

When we don’t take this approach in crafting our job description, we end up with many prospects wearing rose-colored glasses after reading the amazing job description that HR put together for you.  They’re the 71% who end up unhappy and disengaged because the job wasn’t what they expected.  That leaves you, 71% of the time, with less-than-ideal support and work environment conditions.

With information in hand, we’re close to striking up conversations and scheduling interviews.  Just as every part of the process thus far has had a slight twist on traditional hiring methods, you’ll find no exception next time when we look at a better way to interview for the perfect fit.  Until then, happy drafting.

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