Master Your Ship

In a post The Estrin Reportreprinted in the most recent issue of KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals Chere Estrin spells out “10 Ways to Sink Your Paralegal Career – Guaranteed.” My position is that a sinking paralegal career can be summed up by “unprofessional” and letting yourself be managed by events rather than managing them. Hence a good part of my motivation for writing The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional,” providing (I hope) clear and concise information and techniques to be effective, efficient, and professional. Chere does a very good job here of emphasizing a “Top Ten” list, taking a paragraph or two to explain each, while summarizing my theory by advising that we all be the master of our own ships. I’m providing the link here. Just click through to the article or the magazine for the full article.

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(The magazine has a number of worthwhile articles in this issue – as is often the case – including a good story on Marianna Fradman’s journey for a childhood in the Ukraine to President of the New York City Paralegal Association, one of the most active, vibrant, and professional such associations in the country.) Anyway, here’s the list:

Here are 10 top reasons why your career may be stalled, dead-ended or become routine and repetitious:

1. You Are Your Own Worst Career Manager

If you don’t watch out for your career and goals, no one else will and you may become a candidate for right-sizing, downsizing, merging or purging.

2. Breadth, Not Depth of Skills

You do not want to be a one-trick pony. In today’s paralegal field, there is a greater emphasis on the breadth of your skills not just on the depth.

3. Don’t Be a SMEL (Subject Matter Expert on Life)

We all know these folks – the ones who have the answer to everything. They’re annoying, really.

4. Not Being a Tall Tree

You want to be noticed in a positive manner. Do not try to blend into your paralegal department to avoid attention.

5. The Living Resume

You’ll hear over and over to keep your resume up-to-date. There must be a good reason.

6. The Written Word (and Picture) Remains

What you write in emails and instant messaging can be used both for and against you.

7. Don’t Burn Those Bridges

What a temptation it is to “tell all” in the exit interview! Telling your boss and colleagues what you really felt about them, particularly when you’re angry, is a potential future career buster.

8. Don’t Disconnect or Isolate

The reach of social networks and professional sites should not be underestimated – even for paralegals. Take a look at LinkedIn.

9. Technical Complacency, Ignorance or Denial

Never make the assumption that you have all the computer skills you need. New technologies are emerging at a furious rate and to remain relevant, you need to learn these new skills.

10. Lack of Soft/People Skills

In today’s market, paralegals that assume simply having updated skills will give them a ticket to career advancement, have their heads buried deep in the sand.

Above all, be responsible for your own career. Being the master of your ship instead denying what’s going on at the helm, guarantees a move forward in a growing, changing and fantastic journey.

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