Q: I’m searching for a new legal job and have heard it’s a good idea to professionalize my Facebook and Twitter accounts. But is it really worth the trouble? If so, how do I leverage social media to help me land a better job?
A: Social media can definitely help legal professionals look for new jobs. The opposite is also true: A negative online presence hinders your efforts. Some applicants think hiring managers look at only cover letters and resumes when deciding whom to interview. However, the reality is that many prospective employers run a Google search (at the very least) on candidates they’re interested in.
Simply put, you can’t afford to neglect the social media aspect of a job search. Here are some tips for how to use and take advantage of this powerful medium:
1. Join LinkedIn. This professional social media website has about 450 million members, so it’s little surprise that one of the first things many managers — as well as legal recruiters — do is look up candidates on LinkedIn. If you don’t yet have an account here, sign up and get started on your profile.
2. Think visually. Except for fields like acting and modeling, the vast majority of job applications don’t ask for photographs. However, even though LinkedIn is like a legal resume, not having a headshot in your profile can count against you. But be selective about the photo you use — rather than uploading a selfie or a picture of your cat, choose a photo where you are wearing business attire and in a more formal setting. Also consider having a professional photographer take your portrait.
3. Clean up your feeds. Are your various personal social media profiles — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — set to public? If so, scrutinize them through the eyes of a law office manager or head of a corporate legal department. Depending on what you tend to post, you may want to change your privacy settings or delete certain posts.
4. Show your personality. Potential employers go online to find out more about you. Use this to your advantage and make sure your social media profiles reflect not only your experience and technical abilities, but also your interpersonal skills and sense of humor.
When it comes to social media, incomplete profiles or unprofessional posts can knock you out of the running for wonderful job opportunities. Don’t risk missing out on a great role simply because your online accounts aren’t as impressive as you are.