Job seekers, both recent graduates and tenured professionals alike, often seek advice for improving their resumes. However, while the resume will continue to be a job seeker’s primary marketing tool, many corporate, law firm and agency recruiters also rely on social media when deciding whether or not to pursue a candidate. Therefore, having a strong social media presence can be just as important as a resume when it comes to landing your next position.
Social Media Tips for Legal Professionals
Linking In to Your Next Position
LinkedIn can play a critical role in your legal job search. On a practical level, after reviewing resumes, recruiters often turn to LinkedIn for supplemental information, including informal references. Many recruiters also post open positions on LinkedIn, either via an advertisement or within LinkedIn networking groups. LinkedIn is also a great way to gain direct access to employees at your target companies and firms who may be able to direct you to a proper recruiter or hiring manager.
Make the most out of your LinkedIn profile and include as much compelling information as possible. Be active in the LinkedIn community by joining focused networking groups, as this is a great way to make new contacts in your targeted practice area. Treat your LinkedIn profile as seriously as you would your resume; ensure that all entries are complete and use proper spelling and grammar. Also, be cognizant that LinkedIn is primarily a professional networking site, so always treat other users with respect and leave more casual commentary to Facebook or anonymous blogs and Internet forums.
Keeping Face on Facebook
Facebook can also supplement your job search, though often Facebook can be more of a hindrance than an asset. It is important to decide whether to enlist your Facebook page as a job seeking tool or keep it completely personal. If you decide that your Facebook page will remain personal, choose an appropriate “profile picture” and ensure that all of your privacy settings are optimized so that hiring managers, recruiters and future colleagues cannot view any content you would not want them to. Facebook has also recently implemented systems to manage your contacts, so that your manager, co-workers and mother may only be privy to your most innocuous updates.
Many legal professional networking organizations do have a presence on Facebook, and may use Facebook to send out invitations to networking events that may be especially useful for your job search. The more informal atmosphere may make it easier to “befriend” a future colleague and add a more personal story to your interest in joining their company. If you are uncomfortable with managing Facebook privacy settings but still would like to reap the benefits of Facebook networking, you may elect to create two separate profiles – one for professional networking and one for personal use.
Twitter is an established social networking tool that may have ancillary benefits for your job search. While many use Twitter to keep up to date on breaking news or celebrity gossip, some use Twitter to follow leaders in their fields who may tweet interesting articles, thoughts or industry news.
As a job seeker, you can create a Twitter presence of your own by selectively re-tweeting key updates and attracting new followers. In addition, many professionals have been able to create contacts from Twitter by following up with those who tweeted articles of interest and starting a discourse. While Twitter may not be the most direct route to your next position, it may nonetheless add to your presence and create unexpected contacts, if you have the time to carefully navigate the sheer volume of irrelevant information the site often provides. Of course, if your dream is to work for a social media company, having a presence on Twitter is essential so that you are viewed as having kept up with the times.
Whether you are simply responding to an advertisement or networking within your targeted organization, your resume will continue to serve as your primary marketing tool during your job search. Since most recruiters and hiring managers receive countless resumes for any specific open position, you want to ensure that your resume tells a clear, succinct and compelling story that conveys why your application deserves further review. If a resume is too long or confusing, or even aesthetically awkward, the recipient may completely pass on your candidacy rather than try to piece together your experience.
Here are some recommendations for enhancing the content of your resume in order to enhance your chances of getting hired.
- Cover your key achievements without inundating decision makers. Don’t make your resume any longer than it needs to be. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and ask whether you would want to know the information you are putting in your resume to make the decision. For example, participation in numerous college activities may no longer be relevant if you’ve been out of school 10 years.
- Try to tell a consistent story, if possible. If a position you are interested in requests only intellectual property experience, your resume may be a hindrance if you emphasize your additional interest in securities, tax, real estate, and labor and employment.
- Practice area professionals seeking lateral or in-house moves should clarify practice areas rather than simply using broader terms such as “associate” or “paralegal.” Critical experience should be highlighted. If you are a litigator, you may want to emphasize deposition, law and motion, court appearance, settlement or trial experience. As a corporate attorney, you should demonstrate experience in successful M&A or finance deals, or show experience working with public, private and/or startup companies. For intellectual property professionals, emphasizing their area of expertise, in addition to whether their practice focused on litigation, prosecution or technical transactions, is imperative.
- Candidates with significant experience spread throughout multiple positions may benefit from including a summary section that highlights the most vital aspects of their experience that are most relevant to the position being sought.
In summary, job seekers today may no longer be able to rely exclusively on a strong resume and cover letter to land their desired position. A strong social media presence is becoming increasingly requisite in tipping the scales in your favor against the competition.
Contributed by Nick Marsilio, Regional Director of Recruiting in Special Counsel’s Northern California region.