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How to Apply for a Legal Secretary Role When Your Skills Don't Match the Exact Job Specification

Written by: Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA)
Published on: 3 May 2018

You’ve come across an advertisement for your dream legal secretary role, but the job specification does not quite match your own professional profile. Perhaps this is your first legal secretarial role and you feel you lack certain experience or you are unconfident about a particular skill? You’re now faced with two options: accept your loss and let the job of your dreams slip away, or go for it with everything you’ve got. We recommend the latter of the two options and would like to provide you with the following tips to help you make the most of what you have, as well as ensuring you give yourself the best possible chance of securing the role.


The first thing to do is carefully look through the job specification and compare it against your CV. Establish which areas you match entirely and which skills you do not currently hold. It is important to remember that these differences are not a negative, however, and equally important to never express them in this way. Analyse the experience and skills you’ve gained through each step of your career towards this point, including both your employment history and educational background. Write down all the skills you feel you have developed and then consider which ones are transferable to the role at hand and could fill in any of the areas you have previously highlighted as potential gaps. By doing this, candidates will often find that they possess more skills than they previously realised. Articulate your points well and back them up with tangible examples, allowing them to act as worthy replacements to the exact specifications listed.


ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course has been created to teach you all the practical skills and legal knowledge you need to become a successful Legal Secretary. It has also been designed in a way that allows you to demonstrate exactly what you have learnt during the duration of the course through the portfolio of work which you create. Your portfolio will provide evidence of your skills which, when presented to a prospective employer, will show the range of your experience and capabilities.


The second thing to do is show that extra incentive by researching the company thoroughly before writing your CV. This enables you to tailor both your CV and covering letter specifically to the legal secretarial role you are applying for. Employers are not only looking for an applicant that fits their job specification, they also want someone who they think will be a good fit for their company.


It can be a confidence boost to remember that your sincere enthusiasm for the role will put you at a natural advantage over other applicants who may not come across as eager as you do. Sometimes feeling like you are on the back foot gives you the boost needed to really concentrate and put the extra effort into your applications. Passion for the available position is attractive and will translate genuinely to an employer. By clearly and thoughtfully expressing your interest in the company, you will impress your employer and come across as both an authentic and ambitious candidate. Many companies are keen to invest in worthy candidates and offer incredibly beneficial training opportunities to those who they feel are worth the investment.


By taking these steps, you can rest assured that you couldn’t have done any more to secure the job you desire. Don’t be discouraged, however, if after all of your efforts you do not get the role. During the course of your application, you will have learnt a lot about how to promote your value to an employer and what your strengths and weaknesses are. We always recommend following up any interview with an email not only to reinforce your interest in the position but also to ask for feedback on your performance during the interview, which you can take note of and learn from. Professional progression can be a lifelong process and may show you what skills you need to focus on gaining next on your path towards success. You have nothing to lose by taking a chance and have the legal secretarial career of your dreams to gain.


We hope you find these tips useful and remember they are not exclusive to Legal Secretary roles. They can be applied to any application where you fear you do not exactly meet the job specification.


The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA) is a professional body who are dedicated to your career every step of the way. Whether you would like to become a Legal Secretary or you would like to advance your Legal Secretary career, they are there to support you through your journey.  For more information visit