Q: I’m looking for a new legal job and think I should be maximizing my presence on LinkedIn. How do I take better advantage of this social media tool?
A: Your LinkedIn profile is essentially a virtual resume, so if you’re going to use it as part of your job search (and you definitely should), you had better make sure it looks good and reads well. Fortunately, LinkedIn is user-friendly, so you won’t need a great deal of social media training to maximize your presence on this site. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Make your profile fresh and appealing
Many of us are guilty of signing up for a LinkedIn account and then never doing anything with it. The first thing to check is whether your account is tied to an unused or defunct email address. If so, add your latest contact information so you can get alerts for job openings and other news.
The summary is the first text block that prospective employers see, so make that section stand out with active verbs and strong prose. Next, list your experience in reverse chronological order, just as in your legal resume, but make them short and snappy. Add pro bono and relevant volunteer work, and any membership and leadership positions in legal organizations. Before saving, don’t forget to proofread!
- Add a professional touch
One very important aspect of social media training is to know your audience. LinkedIn is not Facebook, so don’t treat it as such. Make sure your email is not associated with your present employer, and that the address is not embarrassing. Never leave the profile image as the default gray box and avatar, and try not to use a casual snapshot or obvious selfie. While you’re in edit mode, swap that awkward URL for a personalized one and include it in your personal business card and email signature.
- Find your connections
The hiring world is all about who you know, so reach out and connect with people you haven’t heard from in ages as well as those you currently work with. Contact former colleagues, classmates, professors, mentors and professional acquaintances to let them know you’re searching for a new position. You never know who can help you land that exciting new legal job.
Another great feature of LinkedIn is that it tells you which jobs are open at your connections’ workplaces. See a position you like? Send a personalized note to your contact and express your interest in finding out more.
- Start joining and following
Take a look at the existing groups and join a few. You can find them under the Home page (scroll down until you see “Groups you may like” on the right sidebar) or Interests > Groups. Depending on how active the moderator and members are, there could be very interesting discussions going on. It’s also a great idea to follow organizations you admire and would like to work with. Keep up with their posts and leave an insightful comment every now and again. You never know whose eye you’ll catch.
- Be careful of overbroadcasting
If your page has sat idle for years, a sudden flurry of activity may tip off your network —including possibly your boss and coworkers — that you’re looking for another legal job. To keep things hush-hush as you overhaul your profile, change your settings. Click on your profile thumbnail picture on the top right corner and select Privacy & Settings. Then go to Profile > Privacy Controls > Turn on/off your activity broadcasts. When you’re happy with your profile, turn the activity broadcasts feature back on.
It doesn’t take an enormous amount of social media training to take advantage of LinkedIn’s many features. After all, this site is all about maintaining an active professional network, and finding a new legal job is all about being linked in.
Charles A. Volkert is executive director of Robert Half Legal, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of attorneys, paralegals, legal administrators and other legal professionals with law firms and corporate legal departments. Based in Menlo Park, Calif., Robert Half Legal has offices in major cities throughout the United States and Canada.