When you’re not looking for a job it can be easy to neglect your LinkedIn profile... But it really is more important than you might think. Whether you’re planning a full-scale job search, or you simply want a professional profile that’s accessible to clients, it’s time to review and update LinkedIn.
From a job search perspective, candidates often ask Law Staff the question of what they can do to secure that all important interview. Often, the candidate is only referring to their CV and what needs to be amended, added or deleted... but an updated LinkedIn profile is just as essential. You may not know it, but LinkedIn is one of the first places potential employers will form an impression of you. If you think about it, your LinkedIn profile is much more accessible to the legal community and will be read by a lot more connections than the hands your resume will ever pass through.
“But I’m not looking for a job, so it doesn’t matter, right?”
Wrong! Firstly, LinkedIn is the conduit for a large portion of career-changing or career-defining opportunities which are presented to people at a time when they are not looking and are least expecting. Have you ever noticed someone in the legal industry secure an absolutely sensational role and you wondered how the hell they scored that? You know the ones! Your career has a certain number of years to reach the pinnacle of your aspirations, so what will you do to ensure you are ready when opportunity knocks.
Secondly, LinkedIn is not only where potential employers find you, but also where potential (and current) clients find you. If you google your name right now, we can almost guarantee that not only will your company profile appear, but your LinkedIn profile (if you have one) will be one of the first search results. Now thinking from the client’s perspective, if they called you for advice relating to a legal matter, and your LinkedIn profile still says you work at a café on Queen Street then their confidence in you may be a little shattered. Hence, it is essential to realise that LinkedIn is an important business development tool when promoting your skills to clients. It’s an extreme case we know, but you get the gist of what we’re saying.
Okay... so let’s transform your LinkedIn profile.
1. Claim your URL
First things first, you deserve more than just a number. Luckily, you are able to update your LinkedIn URL to include your full name. This will not only make your profile appear more professional but will make it easier for people to search your details, and likewise, for you to provide them.
https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/87/customizing-your-public-profile-url?lang=en You will notice there are some limitations with this feature. There are a maximum of 30 letters or numbers and it’s on a first come, first served basis. Meaning if someone has already used your name as a URL you won’t be able to. Another option would be to put your full name and your city to personalise it further (e.g. YourNameBrisbane).
2. Include a Professional Photo
The saying ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ could not be more accurate when it comes to your professional profile. LinkedIn has found a profile is actually seven times more likely to be viewed with a photo than those without.
In today’s society, most people will meet us online before they do in person. Your connections will remember a face more than they will remember a name, so your profile picture should be a recent professional photo (if it was taken 10 years ago, it’s time to update it). There is no need for a full-on glamour shot as anyone with a smartphone these days can take a quality photo ready for your profile. Selfies are best avoided so why not ask a colleague to take it for you from your phone.
Our hot tips would be to have a plain background, smile (no mugshots please) and wear professional attire. If you’re still unsure of what a ‘professional photo’ is then take a look at the profiles of your legal peers and you soon will get the idea.
3. Customise your Headline
You will never get a second chance to make a great first impression. Your headline is the first sentence people read about you and where they will make up their mind as to whether they want to read on.
If you don’t write a headline, LinkedIn will automatically use your current job title which tends to be a little boring. Your headline should be a snapshot of your role in the industry. Essentially, you have 120 characters to compel someone to click on your profile, so make it count!
Try to include your practice area, title and level. To be useful, it should say what you do and entice the reader to learn more about your service. An example could be: Corporate M&A | Private Equity | Corporate Advisory Senior Associate at a Top-Tier Firm.
4. Don't skip your Summary
After clicking on your profile your summary provides the reader, in 3-4 short paragraphs, a snapshot of your career. This is where the magic happens. It’s valuable space and should include a narrative of your current role, your best professional attributes, and any recent achievements.
Your summary is similar to a cover letter and should be in first person with an informal tone while still maintaining professionalism. You can include your passions in the law, how you got where you are today, and what sectors and clients you now work with. It’s an opportunity for you to describe what you do best.
5. Add Experience
Essentially, you should be able to just copy and paste your CV into your LinkedIn. Though it is crucial to ensure the information is all correct, relevant, and your employment dates mirror the other.
When adding in your positions, it is also important to include the industries and sectors you have worked across. For instance, you may have worked in the front-end construction team at Company A and then moved across to a hybrid back-end / front-end role at Company B. You should then provide a little information on the type of clients and matters you were working on in your time at each role.
Common mistakes we notice include incorrect dates, non-legal experience, and not including important clerkships. That said, we have found over the years a lot of legal professionals are somehow reluctant to let go of a supermarket job worked when they were 20 years old while studying at university. Yes, we understand that when applying for your first job this provided you with the transferable skills of customer service and problem solving, but unfortunately potential employers or clients won’t always see it this way once you become more experienced. We often say to candidates that we don’t want it to detract from their current (legal) skillset and capability. So don’t be afraid to let go of that irrelevant past.
On the flip side, it is important to include any clerkships you did during your time at university, particularly if you are still early in your career. These can often highlight your experience and show that you understand how different firms work under a variety of Partners and practice areas.
6. List Correct Qualifications
We can’t stress enough how vital it is to have your correct qualifications listed. Whether you did a single or a double degree, both are important to include on your LinkedIn profile. It is equally important to include your year of Admission to the relevant jurisdiction, so readers know how much post admission experience you have.
When listing your qualifications, you should also include specifics on whether you received Honours and your GPA, if it is above average. This leads us to our next point …
7. Highlight your Achievements
As humans, it’s in our nature to be our own worst critic but this is an instance where you should give yourself the credit you deserve for your achievements. We don’t mean as far back as high school, however if you were placed on the Deans List or received other academic achievements then this will make your profile stand out.
Other achievements to include are any awards you have received in practice as well as recent non-legal successes such as notable sporting achievements or other extra-curricular activities. These all combine for the reader to form an opinion on not only your technical competence, but they also speak loudly on your character and drive to succeed.
8. Include your Contact Info
Whilst having this 5-star profile is great, it won’t matter if a client or employer can’t reach you. Be sure to add in your personal email and phone number, otherwise LinkedIn’s default contact information is a link to the very LinkedIn profile you are editing, so you may not receive the notification.
One word of warning - the email address you put in here is the one that doubles as the notification address LinkedIn sends you when someone has sent you a message. Now that’s great if it’s work-related but if it’s a recruiter reaching out to tell you about a life-changing opportunity then it’s a big BIG problem if your secretary manages your emails.
You should also check your geographic location is correct. You won’t pick up any work back home having your location set to a distant country or city you are or were visiting.
9. Proof your Profile
Now you have gone to this effort, please don’t fall into the trap of having clumsy speling and grammatical miztakes (it doesn’t look great does it!) Be clear and concise. Remember also that it’s not always lawyers who will read your profile, it’s the property developer, insurer, business buyer or financer who does not want to trail through piles of legal jargon.
Correct dates, spelling, and use of punctuation are easy fixes so be sure to proofread your profile or get a colleague or friend to look over it for you. If you can’t draft a simple online resume, how can a client or potential employer feel confident about your ‘attention to detail’ and ’excellent drafting skills‘ for the work you may do for them.
10. Get Connecting!
LinkedIn has hundreds of features and settings which, dare we say, are the most important part of creating your profile. Once you have completed steps 1 through to 9 make sure you use these functions and get connecting. Be considered in your approach though, it’s better to have 100 high quality connections in your industry than 500+ that aren’t related to the clients you work with or the jobs you’re interested in pursuing.
The purpose of this profile is to not only build your presence but to also engage with others by being active. Post events and conferences, share articles, connect to groups and comment on discussions. It’s important to follow people and groups that are aligned with your interests. If not, you will find your newsfeed will no longer be useful to you, filled with irrelevant articles and updates because everything your connections post ends up in your feed.
LinkedIn will only work for you if you work with it. If you have outdated information on your profile, a potential client or future employer may pass by unnoticed. So, if you successfully land a position, or move to a different team, make sure to update your profile and announce the great new opportunity you landed.
LinkedIn is a business social network… be social! When the platform first came into our lives in 2003, it was as simple as a digital form of your resume. Fast forward 15+ years and it has developed into the world’s largest professional network of 460 million members and a complete career resource. You are now a member of one of the biggest online communities ... so use it!
Author: Bianca Calder LL.B. (Hons), Associate Client Advisor
Editor: Trudy Reading, Senior Client Advisor