Unusually, I recently took time out for “me” and attended a seminar on personal branding with the excellent Talent Liberator Rachel Brushfield and Julia Iball (at the Oxford Professional Women’s Hub). Usually a strategy for attracting new clients, it got me thinking about the inverse as well: how to develop your personal brand when looking for your next role.
In a highly competitive legal job market, time is short and precious for both potential employers and employees. Law firms demand a high level of professionalism and performance history of their lawyers, yet the sheer volume of information available to a potential employer may make it difficult for you to make an impression. So how can you maximise your chances of being noticed and secure your next great role?
Create a great impression online
Just as your current firm may have a branding strategy for attracting clients, you too should think about your own professional identity to attract potential employers.
Build your profile as fully and as accurately as possible
“Authenticity” is the key word here—be yourself, but use your judgement. It is a balance: you don’t want to be so over polished that you are not identifiable as an individual, but also avoid posting anything and everything (everywhere) as it will give the impression that you are unprofessional, incompetent, or worse…both!
Ensure that your CV and your profile, as it appears online, tie up. An eagle eyed employer will spot inconsistencies in dates or gaps in work history and this will not create the right impression.
Ask people who know you well for their feedback on your skills and qualities and use this in your profile to differentiate yourself from every other Property, Corporate, Private Client etc., etc., lawyer. Use testimonials to endorse your skills and qualities.
“Dress to impress”, even online
Create a professional image. Make sure you have a photograph, ideally professionally taken and of your head and shoulders. For LinkedIn, avoid photos where you’re wearing sunglasses, on holiday, or with someone else.
Remember that Facebook is often the first “go to” for a prospective employer to have a quick look at a potential employee pre-interview. Keep in mind the photos shared from last year’s holiday to Ibiza, as this could leave employers with a bad impression. You want to work hard to align your presence on every available forum.
Align your personal brand to your prospective employer
Research the culture of the firm you would ideally like to join and accentuate your skills or interests that best suit the role you seek.
Research market needs and trends
What are the emerging issues and competencies that are going to be in demand? GDPR was a great example of a “hot topic”, where many law firms were in desperate need for lawyers with specialist knowledge. So too, “legal tech” and “AI” expertise are increasingly on the rise—do you have any additional skills or interests that would aid a firm in bridging the gap between the practice of law and emerging technology?
Get involved on platforms
Use LinkedIn, Twitter and other online networks. Take time to write blogs, and articles about your work. If you have completed an interesting case or piece of work write about it on these social platforms (subject of course to client sensitivities or confidentiality) to exemplify your knowledge and experience.
Involve yourself and align, join, or link with groups online
Finding groups which may have synergies with you, your brand and/or your prospective employer is a key strategy to building a reputation online. It shows that you are engaged in your industry’s community. If you have an active interest in the current legal landscape, the key changes taking place and the challenges facing the industry you will stand out against the 1000s of other lawyers online perhaps also looking for their next role.
Follow or connect with as many like-minded professionals as you can
But be purposeful not random in your networking. This can help you expand your opportunity to meet recruiters while looking for a job, whilst at the same time improving your own online reputation.
Think about possible connections that might be looking for a candidate and connect with them. This is a way of instantly expanding your network and you could attract the attention of a Partner who is searching for their next team member.
Recruiters, in-house HR teams, Partners and other lawyers (perhaps keen to earn themselves an internal referral fee) all use LinkedIn. Make sure your profile and settings are used to their greatest advantage. Be mindful that LinkedIn works on a “Boolean search” so make sure your profile uses key words which might be entered in any searches undertaken. Think about location, your schooling, University, etc. These will show an affinity to a particular location which can be important to a law firm looking to take on a new recruit.
Speak to a specialist recruiter
The majority of consultants at Chadwick Nott are ex lawyers—I myself was in practice for nearly 20 years. We recognise that creating a brand and presenting someone in the best light possible is key to ensuring that your CV reaches the desks of the key decision makers in law firms each day, and gives you the best chance of securing an interview.
Even if you are entirely happy in your current role, time spent on your personal brand now can help you earn promotions, attract new business, and build better relationships with your clients and co-workers. Take time out of your busy day for a bit of “you” time, it could pay dividends.
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