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LinkedIn Success in 3 Easy Steps: Job Hunters Edition

Happy New Year dear readers!  I am happy to report that I am back on the blog.  In fact, after such a rewarding experience blogging as a 2018 Writer in Residence for Ms. JD, I have accepted a position on its Board of Directors.  I am really excited about getting more deeply involved and helping Ms. JD bring exciting programs and opportunities for young women everywhere.

My latest blogging inspiration manifested itself during a recent alumni women's circle I joined.  I heard from several women recognizing the value of having a LinkedIn presence, but saying they were intimidated by how to get started.  I have been a LinkedIn member since February 2007.  In fact, all three of my post-graduate jobs were the result of maintaining a LinkedIn account.  My first job after law school I found by applying directly to a job posting on the website while I was studying for the bar exam.  The next two came through recruiters reaching out to me while I passively maintained my profile.

My experience is not singular.  These types of opportunities are par for the course for legal professionals, especially for those in urban areas or for people willing to relocate.  Even more so for 'JD Preferred' specialties where recruiters are scouring the web for a unique combination of skills and experiences to fill their open roles.  This alone makes LinkedIn the most powerful resource for anyone managing their career, whether you are actively looking for jobs or passively open to hearing about what new opportunities may fall into your lap.  You are doing yourself and your career a disservice by not taking advantage of this tremendous free resource.

If you're behind the curve, I've come up with a multi-part series to help you extract the most value from LinkedIn with only a modest amount of effort.  The first installment here is intended for anyone wishing to jump-start their job search or at least get on the radar of recruiters.

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Step 1: Create a Complete & Current Profile

  • After creating your basic account, treat your Linkedin profile like a resume: add your entire working history (with dates, titles, promotions, employers, etc.) and make sure you are mindful of proofreading and punctuation as you would on paper.
  • Add a headshot picture (professional if possible, but any is better than none and current is better than a photo from 10 years ago).  LinkedIn stats show a huge difference in the number of clicks and views of profiles with pictures over those with none.
  • Add your relevant skills, publications, accomplishments, volunteer experience, websites, etc.
  • Connect the account to an email you check frequently!  A lot of people mess this one up and don't see messages for months because they tie it to an email they rarely check.  By that point, jobs are filled and potential opportunities are squandered away.
  • Be mindful of your privacy and other account settings and adjust them to your personal preferences.  Unlike other social media platforms, I advocate keeping your profile as public as you feel comfortable.  You will foreclose opportunities that you don't even realize might cross your path if you block your profile to unknown third parties.  They won't find you and they won't be able to message you.
  • Keep it current - always!  I am surprised by how many colleagues I see with really stale profiles.  If you list an old employer you haven't worked for in years as your present job, you can be seen as out of touch at best and deceptive as to your employment status at worst.  Imagine if a prospective employer cross-checks your resume with your LinkedIn...not a good look if they don't match up!

Step 2: Add All of Your Contacts (and I mean ALL)

  • Search all your colleagues, friends, former co-workers, etc. in the search bar and request to add them to your network, adding a short personalized note along with the request.
  • Search and click 'Follow' on all organizations of interest to you (e.g., your law school and other alma maters, your current and prior employers, other agencies, desirable employers, bar associations, industry associations, vendors, etc.).
  • Add any and every legal or other recruiter you can find and accept every recruiter's request!  This brings you into their network and onto their radar.
  • Any time you receive someone's physical business card, add them on Linkedin as a routine practice going forward.  Don't forget a personalized note reflecting on how you met and any follow-ups or remarks on something memorable from your encounter.
  • Don't accept strangers who are outside of your industry who don't seem to have any real reason to add you besides spam or sales pitches. 
  • Don't accept people who you don't think have a good reputation.

Step 3: Browse & Apply for Job Postings

  • Publicly advertised job ads are still posted on the website.  This is how I found my first job out of law school in 2010 during the job market decline of the Great Recession.
  • After adding recruiters to your network per step 2 above, you should start paying attention to job postings they publish on their own profile and their agency's profile.
  • Proactively message a few recruiters to ask them for their read on the market for your desired field and what market opportunities look like for someone with your work experience.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.  Good luck!

Bonus Step: Seek Out Informational Interviews

Use LinkedIn as a tool to identify accomplished people you wish to know in your industry.  It helps if you have something in common like your alma mater, prior employer, industry association, etc.  Request to add them to your network and then privately message them with a polite request to meet for an informational interview or phone call (a call is probably best for a first encounter given how busy most people are).  Use this sparingly and with a lot of tact!  You don't want to come across as someone who will waste their valuable time.  Make sure you know what you want, ask thoughtful questions tailored to their experiences, and keep it short and sweet.    

If you're not clear yet on what you want, first exhaust your market research through recruiters in Step 2 above.  Their job is to help you narrow down opportunities available for someone with your job profile, so don't be shy to leverage their expertise for your benefit!

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These are the action items that have worked for me.  Please comment below or message me with any other personal tips that have worked for you.  I'd love for this page to memorialize everyone's best practices for our collective benefit.

 

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