It won’t come as a surprise to you that virtually every recruiter uses LinkedIn to source candidates. You’ve likely received at least a few unsolicited LinkedIn messages from recruiters. Chances are, some of those messages were for positions that do not align with your practice area. This can be a source of frustration, leading some lawyers to become pretty jaded about the general notion of recruiter outreach.
But here’s the thing. If your LinkedIn profile doesn’t clearly communicate your skills and specific experience, recruiters are left to guess. The best way you can improve the quality of recruiter outreach is to maintain an informative, up-to-date profile. This gives recruiters quick and valuable insight into your background, enabling us to contact you if there’s a strong match and, conversely, to move on if you’re obviously not the right candidate. I can’t promise that a more informative profile will entirely solve the problem of messages for irrelevant roles, but it will definitely help.
Introduce yourself effectively
The “intro” portion of your LinkedIn profile (the top section) is in many ways the most important. This is your opportunity to communicate crisply who you are and what you offer. The best way to enable a recruiter to find your profile is by inserting informative keywords into the “headline” (the line immediately below your name). Describing yourself simply as an “Attorney” is a missed opportunity: instead, tell us what type of attorney you are. The more specific, the better. For example, “Litigation Attorney” is better than “Attorney.” But the best is a headline like “Litigation Employment Attorney Specializing in Discrimination and Retaliation.”
Double-check that your location is current. Many lawyers moved cities during the pandemic, and some have neglected to update their LinkedIn profiles accordingly. It only takes a moment! While you’re at it, consider selecting the “open to opportunities” setting that is only visible to recruiters. This will confidentially communicate to recruiters that you’re receptive to relevant outreach.
Photos are another critical element of an effective intro section. Adding a photo increases the likelihood that a potential contact will accept your connection request by 9x. In addition to uploading a professional profile photo, make sure to include a background photo. Your background is a visual representation of your personal brand and is one of the first things recruiters will see when they visit your profile.
Fill in the details
A basic rule: if it’s there, fill it in. The more complete your profile, the better. Obviously, you have to fill out Experience and Education. But beyond that, add some content to Skills (in case recruiters are filtering on those keywords) and your licenses and certifications (you’re a member of a bar, right?). Other optional sections can help give your profile a more personal touch. Are you bilingual? Fill out the Languages section!
Ensure that your Experience section is more informative than a simple list of titles. The nice thing about LinkedIn, in contrast to a resume, is you don’t have to worry about fitting all the content onto a printed page. So go ahead and include a couple of bullet points about each of your past positions to indicate specifically what you did and what you achieved. Naturally, this will change over time as you advance in your career and accomplish new things, so don’t just fill in the Experience section once and forget about it — be proactive about keeping the description of your current role up to date. As a matter of style, note that it’s perfectly appropriate to write in the first person on LinkedIn, in a way that would be uncommon on a resume. Using “I” statements helps to humanize you.
Education should be fairly straightforward, but do keep in mind that this is not the place to be modest. If you graduated with honors, say so. You may also wish to list your GPA and/or class rank, especially if you’re early in your career, with limited work experience.
At a minimum, you should log into LinkedIn weekly to check your messages. If you aren’t in the habit of logging in regularly, you can also put your contact info (personal email and/or cell phone) on your profile, enabling recruiters to contact you through those alternative channels.
As an optional bonus, consider creating content on LinkedIn. This will boost your ranking in search results and can be a great way to get noticed — not just by recruiters, but maybe even by law firm partners directly. Being active on the platform builds credibility, demonstrating that you know your area of law and are comfortable speaking about it publicly. This is by no means required, but when you do it well, it certainly helps!
Check your search appearances
Be sure that you are getting noticed by the right audience. To do this, go to your profile page, look under the Analytics heading, look for the magnifying glass icon, and click on “search appearances.” This lets you see how often you appear in search results. In addition to the number of search appearances, it also shows you the keywords you were found for. If these do not align with your current practice area or industry, consider adjusting your headline and intro section until you are appearing in more targeted searches.
Finally, have fun. Networking and being open to new opportunities can be intimidating, but LinkedIn makes it relatively simple and stress-free. Treat it as a no-pressure environment for you to be yourself and engage with like-minded people.