Thursday, December 8, 2011

Your Most Valuable Professional Asset

I have been fortunate to get to know many wonderful paralegals during my career. Most have impressive resumés with great work experience, notable education, important credentials, and inspiring accomplishments. When I think about these paralegals, I sometimes feel as if I am not doing enough in my profession and career. Regardless of what I do, I know I will never catch up to these paralegals in every area.

However, I also know several paralegals who have fabulous resumés but very few people would recommend them or want to work with them. Some of them are known to have difficult personalities, a few have questionable ethics, and others appear to be overstating their qualifications and experience.

So how can you stand out, particularly when surrounded by fellow paralegals with outstanding resumés? By your reputation.

There will ALWAYS be someone with more experience, more education, better credentials, and more impressive accomplishments. There is nothing you can do about that. What you CAN control is making sure you have a reputation for being knowledgable, dependable, conscientious, professional, and ethical. All of the wonderful information on your resumé can't overcome a bad reputation.

So, above all else, work to guard and improve your professional (and personal) reputation. Because when it comes right down to it, it's really all you've got.

1 comment:

  1. You are your word, and your word is all you have. Integrity is the key to maintaining a fair and honest environment both personally and professionally. When employed in a profession, you not only represent yourself, you also represent your profession and your employer. Prior to studying to become a paralegal, I was a scientist for 20 years. Within that tenure, I had the opportunity to interact with many colleagues and peers. During that time, I had seen a few individuals dismissed for academic and professional misconduct, including cases where entire research studies were dismissed due to padding of data, dishonesty in reporting of study organisms and general dishonesty regarding the nature of the work. I used to read the National Institute of Health's (N.I.H.) publication on academic and professional misconduct. The cases were staggering. The names of those involved were published and have become public record. Embellishing one's credentials is a recipe for career suicide. When your name is out there, people know you. We do not function anonymously in our careers - our career communities are smaller than we think-gossip travels faster than the speed of light.
    I agree, there will always be someone who has a higher degree and more experience than you may have. I have been in the presence of some padded resumes during my role as an interviewer. Upon interview examination, the candidates were not able to substantiate their claims. The end result is a waste of time for those involved in the consideration of the candidate and a candidate with a tarnished reputation. Our respective professional communities are more tightly knit than we think. Reputations can even travel outside of the community. Work with what you have and strive to improve on your own merit. Lying about credentials not only hurts the one who lies, that action also hurts those who actually earned the credentials honestly.