Why are paralegals with only a high school diploma and two years of experience hired over more educated paralegals with less experience?
I am asking this question because I feel like I am not being hired because I am perceived as overqualified and expensive due to my education and experience.
We can all present theories on why the firms didn't hire you, however the best way to find out is to ask them. I suggest that before you go for your next interview speak to the agent and tell them that you would like honest feedback from the client after the interview (the positives and negatives, especially if you don't get the job), it is the only way you will know for certain why you weren't hired.
You should also ask the client during the interview to explain what they are looking for - remember it isn't just the client who is interviewing you, you are also interviewing them to see if the job suits you and your future aspirations.
Paralegal hiring is a really hard issue. Very often the hiring lawyer wants to "train up" a paralegal with a specific set of skills, and they do not want to have to "break" the experience a paralegal brings from prior jobs/education. In many ways, less is more.
The lawyer may view the High End Paralegal School Certificate as being "overkill" because in many small/med firms the "paralegal" is actually more of a "legal secretary" and not a True Paralegal. Smaller firms do not want to overpay for someone expecting to be treated like a paralegal in a big firm settling, so they would not want someone who's education was directed specifically at the Big Firms, i/.e a high end paralegal program.
A additional issue is a Paralegal from a Big Firm may have a very hard time transitioning to a small or medium firm because those business models are so very different. Bluntly, a small firm lawyer doesn't want to baggage of a former Big Firm paralegal who is going to feel "entitled" in an office. The same is true in reverse. Succeeding at a big firm looks very different from succeeding at a small one.
Firms run through social networking accounts too. If you comment adversely, they will pick up on it. Social network sites are similar to large bill boards. Consider commenting on how you are doing detailed research for your employer instead of less savory topics.
One reason could be due to the nature of the role which you have applied for. To the hiring manager, having a high school diploma paralegal with some years of work experience is enough for the job scope required. Being better educated might mean having to pay more for someone who have a higher probabilty of leaving the organization in pursuit of career progression as compared to a high school diploma holder who is satisfied being an executer rather than moving on to strategic roles. I do believe there are firms that will appreciate your talent. It is better to join a company that values your contribution rather than just to satisfy a headcount. Hope this helps.
Basically it is something akin to hiring graduates vis a vis MBAs. MBAs ie overqualified persons are perceived as pople with a chip on their shoulders, do not like to do routine jobs, will sell themdselves job- wise to the highest bidder and are not long term players in the company.They demend a higher package too.
In your case too, experience holds the kay.In fact freshers and people with limited experience are overlooked for those who have more experience on ground. This reduces the coast of training freshers / people with less experience.
To swing the job, handling the interview well, willingness to learn and displaying the right attitude to the job is perhaps the answer
I’ve been recruiting for 34 years. I don’t recruit in the legal industry so cannot speak specifically to it but I can tell you that for positions that don’t require a degree, companies quite often prefer someone that doesn’t have one for a number of reasons. They can usually hire them at a lower pay rate. They are usually thought to stay happier in the position longer than someone with a degree. Those with a degree are assumed to be more conscience of growing their careers, hence possibly being unhappy in the same job for a number of years, which brings up that an employer may assume that an non-degreed individual will stay longer in the job, not looking for that next step up.
Diana, often times firms want to train their paralegals in their own way and not have to have them re-learn. Sometimes it is cost as others have said. When it comes right down to it after qualifications have been met and connections have made their votes known...it all boils down to chemistry. They hire you because they like YOU.
If you "feel" that you are being discriminated against because of certain issues then it may be coming across in your body language. People only hear 7-10% of the words we say; the rest is body language!
There have been many good points brought up as to what company's might be thinking or the reasons for you to not be hired, but as a group we would need additional information to provide you with help to improve your chances for winning against other candidates. Below are a few things to consider and possibly share if you would like suggestions on what you could do differently.
Appropriate attire for the interview and the company. Seems obvious but many times people assume suits/pantsuits are an expectation but it is often overlooked that you might be going to a startup company that wants someone unique.
Company fit - Same as appropriate attire did feel like you would easily fit into the team, and did you express why you would fit into the team?
Length of the overall interview process - If the total interview process took less than 20 minutes and only included one person you are probably not their choice.
Salary Requirements - were they in line with the industry / region and were you specific? Sometimes trying to negotiate the best terms does not make the most sense versus ensuring everyone you intend on showing value regularly and are willing to continually take on new tasks.
Utilizing a resume that is customized to the company.
Participation in Industry Associations or Groups that help you be a better fit for the company and show you have similar ideals.
Quality of discussion with the interviewer (s) - Did the specific meeting last less than 20 minutes, was it only with one person, who did most of the talking, did you ask questions or did you just answer them, did you provide details on how you would help improve the company, and did you remember to ask for the job?
Follow up questions via email or phone - Everyone gets nervous in interviews and often forgets to mention or ask something relevant.
Thank you letter reinforcing what you WILL bring to the job. I have never moved a person to the next stage of the interview process that has not responded in some fashion to provide thanks and ask follow up questions.
These are just a few factors that should be considered to better help you, in my opinion. I have hired less experienced people on many occasions because they were a better fit for the company, they expressed different interests that were in the long-term benefit of the company, they came prepared to discuss the company after doing their own research, and most importantly they used the interview time to find out what it was going to take to be successful working with current management (Team Players).
I hope this helps even if it is not a specific answer to your question.
In addition to some other good answers here, I would say be careful of your target employer. For example, I am a solo with one part-time first-year attorney. A paralegal will likely be my next hire. If you are a highly educated paralegal with only a little experience, I'll take less education and more relevant experience. Not only is the learning curve probably shorter, I would be even more concerned my pay/benefits won't be enough to keep you if a better offer comes along from a larger firm. Then I have to start over with someone else. Just my reality.
I agree with Hal below who comments on cost and the way you are going to maket.
The interview is a sale. In most cases the buyer is interested in who you are and what you can bring to the table for them. They know what you have done from your resume.
There are some great information on interviewing out there.