With more than 500 million members, LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals. At Maddocks, our lawyers check in with LinkedIn every single day – they know having an active and engaging profile is one of the most important tools for building their practice and professional brand.
But as a law student it’s hard to figure out what your brand is when you’ve had little to no work experience. Copying and pasting your resume onto LinkedIn can seem like the easiest way to get started – but with recruiters looking at dozens of candidates every day, a strategically written profile can be your best asset in securing a job.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you make a great online first impression and build an ‘all-star’ profile in no time. Before you get started, make sure you’re not sharing profile updates to your connections.
Choose a great photo
A picture tells a thousand words. Make sure your profile picture is a current, clearly identifiable, professional colour image. Many websites will say you need a headshot done by a photographer but that’s not true. Combined with a professional appearance, photos taken by your friends and family are more likely to show your warmth and personality – leaving a favourable lasting impression to recruiters. So grab a friend with a camera, put on your best suit and take some photos. Having a background image on your LinkedIn profile will also give your profile a polished and more complete look. There are plenty of websites offering free hi-res images so make sure you choose one that shows recruiters your working style.
Give yourself a headline
Your headline is your unique ‘tagline’. It should be interesting enough for someone to click on your profile. With a customized headline, you’ll distinguish yourself from other law students and give recruiters a reason to view your profile. Adding extra keywords to your headline will also boost your profile’s ranking in search results. Here’s a few ways to write it:
– Burwood University Law Society President | Law Student | Winner Burwood Law University Awards 2017
– Final Year Law Student and Law Clerk at Brandon Lawyers | Expected Graduation October 2018
– Law Student and Legal Volunteer at Summerhill Community Centre
– Law Student | Seeking Commercial Legal Experience in Sydney
The idea here is to create a summary pitching the service you provide. You should talk about your professional values and include facts and figures about your achievements, what your passions are in the law and what you believe you’re better at than anyone else – without exactly putting it that way. Your summary should be three to four paragraphs long, use an informal tone and written in the first person. Once you’ve finished writing, copy and paste it into the Hemingway Editor. Edit it down in this website until the readability appears green.
Speak about your professional experience
The experience section on LinkedIn can make or break you. The key question you need to ask yourself when deciding what to include here is ‘does this position help me as a professional?’ If the answer is no, then leave it out. For example, if you had a part time job at uni working for your local council, and you want to work in local government and administrative law – include this in your profile.
Instead of copying and pasting bullet points with your responsibilities, talk about what you were able to achieve in each position. Start off by writing a brief description of your organisation, what you did there, how well you did it, and who or what your work impacted. Make sure you link your job to its company LinkedIn page.
Get a credible recommendation
Nothing is more powerful than a great recommendation so including this section is a must. But how do you actually ask someone to recommend you on LinkedIn? First, you need to make sure the person you’re asking can actually speak for your skills, work ethic and experience. Tutors, senior colleagues and mentors can make great referees. Second, they must be genuinely happy to recommend you. It’s easy to pick out a forced recommendation – having one will usually do you more harm than good. And finally make sure the person you’re asking is credible within their industry (with a completed LinkedIn profile). You never know, your recruiter might know the person who wrote your recommendation, either personally or by reputation.
Join a few groups
Joining groups on LinkedIn will show recruiters what areas of law you’re interested in. It also shows that you’re actively engaged in the legal industry. If you’re interested in Intellectual Property, join a group specifically focused on that topic. By being part of a group, current discussions and topics of the day will land right in your LinkedIn newsfeed.
Add languages, volunteer work, blogs and other certifications
Can you build an app from scratch? Do you speak French? Are you an avid blogger? Adding these additional profile features is a great way to show off your unique skills and stand out from the crowd. Law firms are always looking for graduates who can offer them something different so make sure you flaunt your skills.
Now you know how to build a great LinkedIn profile, its time to start looking at clerkship positions.