Attorneys are notorious for their social media reluctance. Perhaps it’s because the Professional Ethics rules are exceptionally stringent (more on that later), or maybe lawyers are just a busy group of professionals. Either way, you may not need a full social media suite, but a LinkedIn profile needs to be in your digital toolkit. And it better be as flashy as your triple-matted, mahogany-framed law degree.
Six months ago, I ran into a guy from my law school cohort who was unemployed. I asked him if he had tried job searching on LinkedIn, and he snubbed my suggestion, indicating that he didn’t have a profile and had never needed one to get a job before. Maybe a couple of years ago that was the case, but not today. About 94% of recruiters use social media for hiring, and 89% have hired someone through LinkedIn. Plus, millennials have changed the job market so drastically, that social job searching is becoming the norm. Even if you aren’t actively job searching, an updated LinkedIn profile keeps your professional network abreast of your interests and encourages connections or recruiters to contact you with your dream job.
Now, find a suit that makes you look this good.
Your LinkedIn Makes Your Firm Look Good
If you already have your dream job, congrats! Keeping your LinkedIn current prevents you from needing to update it later when you are looking to advance. Moreover, your profile can be more than two pages long and it’s easier to update than a traditional resume. Use your LinkedIn to record projects and accomplishments, and you can cull them later for your resume. Highlighting your achievements raises the overall profile of your firm. You’re a legal rock star and you work for a great firm: let everyone know!
Okay, You’ve Convinced Me. How Do I Win at LinkedIn?
Take a professional headshot. Many firms offer these as part of on-boarding. If it’s more than five years out-of-date, spring for a new one or take your own with an iPhone. Carefully consider the cut of your outfit and the colors you include, as they will become part of your professional identity.
Write an engaging headline. Rather than simply relying on listing your title, use the headline as an opportunity to give more relevant information. e.g., You’re not just an “Attorney,” you’re a “CA Bar Certified Immigration Attorney.” If you’re job searching, craft a snappy title such as “Award-Winning Legal Tech Blogger.” My favorite is “Law Legend-in-Training.”
Summarize your summary. Nothing is more tedious than reading five paragraphs about a person’s work history. Highlight relevant information in one to five lines. Use no-frills copy touching on job titles, skills, professional interests, professional awards, and articles or books. By restricting your summary to keywords and short phrases, your profile remains search engine optimized and skimmable.
Maximize your experience. This section should closely resemble your resume, but with those extra few items you had to leave off due to formatting. The goal is to achieve consistency with your LinkedIn profile and your professional trajectory. If you have held irrelevant side jobs in the last 10 years, don’t include them unless you can articulate transferrable skills.
Include Pro Bono. Everyone loves a do-gooder and your volunteer experience makes you more likeable. And searchable.
Care about women’s rights? Add it to the “Causes” section. Your humanitarian interests could lead to pro bono or leadership opportunities.
Won an award? Include it on your profile, especially if it’s the highest honor in your organization. Provide minimal explanation of its significance.
Additional info. Anything you’d like to add? You can use this area as a way to build your personal brand by including witticisms or personal interests. I use this as an additional contact section to encourage accessibility, but you could include links to other work products or publications. Recently, LinkedIn added the option to post your work product and it now allows you to publish posts.
Skills. List any skill you have that is relevant to your job or professional trajectory. You should aim for 20, including soft and hard skills (e.g., Personnel Management vs. Westlaw Research). This section is important because skill endorsement is the primary way your connections will engage with you on LinkedIn. More endorsements translates to more views. It’s also an independent measure of your skills set as endorsed by your professional peers.
Now connect! Link in with everyone you had a passably decent relationship with in college, law school, grad school and during your work or intern experience. You should have 250 connections minimum. Aim for 500. Ask them to endorse your skills. Use new connections or updates as opportunities to ask for recommendations. You should aim for at least one recommendation for each work experience. Check out your main page newsfeed every day to repost relevant content or to comment on your peers’ posts. Make a commitment to social engagement.
Once you start updating, you’ll be certain to get some good feedback from your professional community. Go forth and prosper!