In today’s social media-rich and reliant world, most people have an online presence. Whether its family photos shared on Instagram, life activity updates on Facebook or professional profiles on LinkedIn, it has become increasingly easy for anyone to not only find people online after just a few taps on their keyboard, but also to learn a lot about them. When it comes to looking for a new job, this can be both good and bad.
We’ve all heard stories of job offers being rescinded after an employer Googled a potential candidate and found posts or photos not in line with that company’s values. And over the years, those stories have served as a warning to us all—when it comes to social media, it’s best to err on the side of caution and present your best self.
But social media also serves as an extremely valuable tool in the job search process. Chances are, most legal professionals—if not all—reading this column have a LinkedIn profile. And the more connections you have on LinkedIn (and, in some cases, other social media sites), the likelier you are to be visible to influencers and decision-makers who may benefit your career. Essentially, your profile can be the key to finding your next great job or making valuable professional connections—so use it to its fullest potential.
Here are steps you can take now to boost your social media presence:
1. Keep your LinkedIn profile fresh and comprehensive.
Of all the social media platforms, it’s fair to say LinkedIn is most valuable to job seekers in any profession—and that’s true for in-house counsel as well. Over years of neglect or forgetfulness, it’s easy to let your LinkedIn profile become outdated or stale. Make sure your profile is not only current—complete with a professional photo of yourself (preferably smiling), but also includes comprehensive details about your current and previous work: job titles, job summaries and specific professional achievements. Legal recruiters use LinkedIn as part of their sourcing process, as do internal corporate recruiters. Your LinkedIn profile should offer a thorough read on your experience and skill set, so that you will be identified as a potential candidate who merits contacting.
2. Leverage social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, for all they have to offer job seekers.
A robust number of connections on social media sites, particularly LinkedIn, can be very valuable with getting your profile in front of decision-makers and referral sources —so build it up and take a broad approach to connection requests. Accept all but the sketchy ones. Moreover, LinkedIn has tools that allow members to easily send connection requests to people who are already in their contacts (such as Outlook, for example). Congratulate your connections when you see they have been promoted or move to a new company or engage in conversations with other members who post about your profession’s or industry’s news.
Additionally, there are myriad professional groups on various social media platforms, including LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as In The House, where members can connect with other lawyers and industry professionals. Turn the online information about events into real networking by attending seminars, CLE and professional social gatherings. This is a great way to form new relationships with people outside of your network.
3. Position yourself as a thought leader.
With newsfeeds offered on platforms such as LinkedIn, members can post about best practices, tips and industry news. Join those discussions or, better yet, start them. Demonstrate your industry and subject matter expertise by regularly providing your connections with useful insights and engaging in others’ discussions. By doing this consistently, you increase your chances of top-level decision makers seeing your posts, discussion contributions and ultimately your profile.
4. Peruse LinkedIn’s job listings.
Many companies use LinkedIn to post the positions they are filling directly without search firm engagement. Even if you aren’t looking for a new opportunity now, checking out postings is a good way to stay on top of hiring trends and identify in-demand skill sets you may want to develop.