How to use LinkedIn to boost your legal career

LinkedIn is becoming a huge platform in which to find new jobs, gain an insight into law firms and connect with those in a similar stage of study or in a similar sector as you. It can also be a great place to not only boost your profile, but also your legal career. Law firms can and will look through a potential future employee’s social media to ensure that they are the kind of person that will provide value if they work there, and LinkedIn is one of the first places to look. If you properly create your profile, it can ensure that you appear polished, professional and, most importantly, a good candidate for a role.

So, how do you ensure that you are using LinkedIn to boost your legal career? Well, it comes down to several points:

  1. Your Unique Selling Point (USP)
  2. Who you choose to connect with
  3. Messaging your connections to gain a competitive edge on applications
  4. Regular interaction with others and posting of your achievements

Your USP

Your USP should generally be placed the ‘About’ section of your LinkedIn section. Here, you have the ability to create a small summary of where you are in your career or university timeline, what you are currently doing and what you are looking for. 

This is something people tend to brush off with a basic idea of what you are doing. The more basic you ‘About’ section, the less chance you have of standing out. Your ‘About’ section can be your Unique Selling Point (USP) – a way of telling people why you are a viable candidate.

Being choosy with your connections

Obviously, when you embark on a new social platform, there is a giddiness at accepting every single person who wants to connect with you on it. However, this is not the best way to truly boost your feed and yourself. The rule of thumb is that if it is someone who has a 1st connection to you, you should accept it as it shows they are known to you in some form and have similar profile to yours. 

With those who are 2nd connections, it can be tricky. With 2nd connections, it is best to go onto their profile and see if you know them or have an idea of what their profile is trying to tell you. They may know you through their connections, but if you have no idea who they are, a brief look through their profile can ensure you have clarity and can determine their relationship to you on LinkedIn.

To enhance your feed and ensure you see every opportunity, ensure that those you connect with or follow are to your needs. If you want to have a chance at, say Reed Smith or Herbert Smith Freehills, try to connect with their current campus ambassadors, those who have had a vacation scheme or training contract with them, and graduate recruitment. These can ensure you see not only when applications for vacation schemes or training contracts open, but also see if these people will be holding insight evenings, competitions or the like in your area or university. 

By doing the following of those who have experience with a certain firm, it also improves the ‘Jobs’ section of LinkedIn to ensure that you are receiving jobs similar to those you are connected with and your work experience section shows you could be capable of. LinkedIn, much like Instagram, has its own algorithm that allows you to see jobs that are within your skills range and based off of your work experience. By narrowing down not only who you connect with but ensuring that they are being connected with to improve your profile, it can potentially lead to you having a greater chance of obtaining that dream job.

Messaging employees

This is one of the most widely known tactics to get a better insight into how a firm works – by talking to employees who have been through the process of applications a few years before you. Trainees and future trainees who have been through the process of applying for training contracts and vacation schemes (even those who have received their training contract offers this year) can provide you a hoard of information that you can use to your advantage in your applications.

By talking to the employees, you have the ability to show in your applications that you have gone out of your way to not only research the firm using their website and legal news sites, but have taken it a step further by putting yourself out there, and showing initiative to graduate recruitment.

A word of warning: be polite and pleasant throughout your interactions and messages with those in your chosen firms. A wrong message or a rude sentence can get back to graduate recruitment very easily, and potentially ruin your chances of being a candidate at the firm. Begin with a generic message, greeting them and (briefly) introducing yourself. For example:

“Hello [name of person you are messaging],

My name is [your name] and I am [state if you are currently studying or working]. I noticed that you work at [insert firm name], and I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about life at [firm name] and how you came about obtaining your current position?

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards,

[Your name]”

This is a quick and easy messaging system that shows you are quick, provides them the basics and gives you some time to prepare questions in the event that they reply and agree to answer some questions.

Regular interaction with others and posting of your achievements

This is a great way to gain some traction within the legal section of LinkedIn and get your name out there to graduate recruitment. You have probably seen people do this on Facebook, where they post their life highlights (or what they enjoy) and people comment and ‘like’ them? It is a similar system on LinkedIn, whereby members will post their job or career ‘wins’, and people will comment and produce a ‘like’ emoji.

Ensure that the achievements you place down are succinct and to the point. If you have achieved a position in an event, ensure you put it into your ‘Work Experience’ section as well, so that it is available for potential employers to see (do make sure you are actually on the internship or event, as if it comes up in an interview and you didn’t achieve it, you will be caught out). If you have achieved great examination results, post them but so remember to crop out your examination number and any confidential information on the results before posting! 

By following these steps, you can not only enhance your feed and profile but also potentially improve your chances of skyrocketing your legal career!

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