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Jobs in the Time of Corona: LinkedIn is your new ‘BFF’

April 20, 2020

By Devra Sigle Hermosilla, Assistant Dean of Career and Professional Development

Now that many of our professional lives are being conducted remotely, it is more crucial than ever to have a strong virtual presence. LinkedIn is one of the most widely used professional social media platforms in the legal industry – as a comprehensive professional networking, connecting, and job searching tool for both job seekers and recruiters.

Invest the time to thoughtfully update your profile and keep it updated while you are searching for a job. Here are some tips for creating an effective LinkedIn profile:

  • Use a professional “interview” profile photo. Your profile photo may replace the traditional first impression you would normally make during an interview, so make it count. Use a professional headshot with a confident and friendly demeanor, presenting yourself the way you would for a legal interview.
  • Add a background photo. An attractive or informative background photo can help your profile stand out and make you look more technologically savvy. Be sure to choose something neutrally professional such as a city skyline or landscape, or perhaps a group photo from a professional conference. Be cautious not to convey an unintended message about your preferred job location or type. For instance, use a more generic background rather than a specific city’s image if you are seeking jobs beyond that city’s limits.
  • Update your graduation and bar status as they change. Reflecting that you are a law student after you have already graduated and passed the bar does not speak well for you. Make sure your profile always reflects your current status, whether as a law student, a law graduate, a bar candidate, a licensed attorney, or an associate in a law firm.
  • Cultivate your message. Create messaging throughout your profile that effectively supports your overall job search without accidentally turning away certain employers. Unlike a cover letter, you cannot update your LinkedIn profile to tailor your message to each employer. Although you may be hoping for an intellectual property position, if you are applying for jobs in other practice areas, then keep your profile broad enough to appeal to all of your potential employers.
  • Make sure your profile is consistent with your resume. Your jobs, experiences, and description paragraphs should generally match what you present in your resume. You can attach your resume to your LinkedIn profile but remove your personal contact information and allow employers to contact you through LinkedIn messenger.
  • Connect to your schools. Link to the official LinkedIn connection for each of your degree-granting institutions so that you can tap into the alumni networks. For Lewis & Clark Law School, of the several choices, select the connection with the official law shield.
  • Use every section of your profile. Update every section of your profile to convey as much about your good qualities as a job candidate as possible. Demonstrate your professionalism, personality, and qualifications through your summaries, education, experiences, volunteer work, publications, and skill sections.
  • Select skills to reflect your job search. The skills section of your profile can drive job openings to your attention. Add both legal and non-legal skills mined from your resume as well as descriptions of job postings that interest you.

After you perfect your profile, you will be a in a good position to use LinkedIn’s extensive connection and job search tools. Keep an eye on your LinkedIn messaging in-box in case an employer is trying to contact you; better yet, set up a notice alert to your email account.

A law firm recruiter offered great advice to Lewis & Clark Law School students this spring on how to use some of the LinkedIn networking tools effectively to grow their connections. You can connect with your classmates, professors, past and current co-workers and supervisors, and then build from there. Use LinkedIn to reach out to alumni working in an area of interest for a virtual coffee meeting. Follow firms, companies, organizations, and industry groups that interest you to learn more about their work and the industry. You can even join groups on LinkedIn that can be informative and provide additional networking opportunities. As you become more comfortable with LinkedIn, you can begin to post information and highlight your own achievements.

Of course, your virtual presence extends beyond LinkedIn. Even though you are treating your personal and professional social networking spheres separately, it is a good idea to take a look at your personal online presence with an employer’s eye. You might also consider updating your Google and Zoom profiles so that you present a professional image in your email correspondence and during video-conferences and virtual interviews.

As second year Lewis & Clark Law School student Rodrigo Narbona ’21 astutely put it, “given the general outlook of things at this point, I’m sure it couldn’t hurt to make a LinkedIn account - so long as I’m willing to put in the time to make it worth it.” I couldn’t agree more.

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