Career Advice

How to use Social Media to advance your legal career

Legal Embassy

Are you on social media? If you are not I have a message for you: up to 84% of employers use social media for their recruitment. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Flickr, Vine, Pinterest, Vimeo, Tumblr, Instagram are top on the list of social media that legal professionals are using for greater leverage. If you are looking for legal jobs in Canada, you can’t afford to ignore the power of social media, particularly, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Social media have trumped the mainstream media as the quickest, cheapest and most efficient means of reaching a targeted audience. They are interactive and allow quicker feedback. Thus, if you aren’t using them yet to engage your audience, search for a job, identify leads, advertise services, and increase brand equity, it is never too late to get on the bandwagon.

These said, social media have many downsides. Yes, many are the evils and disasters they could cause if they are not well used. Recently, Harvard University withdrew its offers to some incoming freshmen that shared explicit memes via a Facebook chat group. Employees have been terminated or disciplined for posting indecent pictures or messages on social media. And of course, many employers check the social media profile of their candidates during recruitments.

So if you care about your PR, just like organizations do, then you need your own individual social media policy (ISMP). Unlike organizations, your ISMP doesn’t have to be formal or written. Here are some tips to consider in your ISMP so that social media does not hurt your career or law job-hunting efforts.

#1.      Avoid unprofessional, defamatory or potentially ‘harmful-to-business’ post: Do you have the habit of posting inflammatory or provocative messages or any pictures that will make you look less of a professional? This is not a cool habit. Please stop it. This applies to posts you like or share. Since sharing them or liking them implies you are endorsing them. Taken there could be some occasional ranting or deep expression of your mind, but make sure you do them within the bounds of acceptable standards. In fact considering that there is a high possibility that your ranting could be misinterpreted and sensationalized, it is better to avoid posting anything in a feat of anger. Allow your temper to cool down. Remember what you spit out cannot be recollected.

#2       Don’t post confidential or sensitive information: Apart from the fact that posting of confidential or sensitive information could expose you or your family to security or identity theft threats, this habit will make you come across to potential employers (or clients) as likely to be careless with their confidential or proprietary information. As legal professionals, don’t forget you have an oath of secrecy with your clients and your professional duty of confidentiality extends beyond when you are acting in a lawyer-client capacity.

#3       Choose your style and stick to it: To derive the optimal benefits from your use of social media, it is important to figure how you want to be perceived on social media. Do you want to be seen as opinionated or open-minded on issues? Do you want to be welcoming, entertaining and/or just informative? Do you want to be a frequent or an occasional user of social media? Ultimately, you need to choose a style that matches your real lifestyle so that your employer and co-employees don’t think you are living a double life or a lifestyle that is different from the one they see at work. Then, your profile and background pix, as well as your profile intro should reflect your preferred style. And don’t forget the era of using selfie for Linkedin profile pix is gone. Try investing in a professional headshot. It is also not a bad idea to use Photofeeler to seek instant unbiased feedback on your social media profile pictures.

#4       Choose your platform: There are so many social media platforms that it is just not possible to be on all of them. The ideal thing is to determine the ones that align with your goal for being on social media. If your goal is to build your professional network, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook are your go-to platforms. If you are looking to connect with recruiters, LinkedIn is the hub for job hunting.      

#5       Choose your audience: Granted that the essence of being on social media is to “socialize” with people but you need to do so in grand style by developing a personal philosophy on how you grow your network contacts or determine groups to join. When building your network on social media, you need to determine right off the bat whether your focus is on quantity or quality of your audience. Both have their upsides and downsides. If you want to use social media to advertise your service or content, having a large network of contacts or followers will enable you to target a wide audience, without having to pay a dime for promotion. The downsides with quantity, however, are that you may not have a close interaction with your network contacts. Also, there are so many fake social media accounts and you should be able to give some level of accountability about your contacts, particularly in this age of cybercrime and other online vices. Ultimately, you need to vet your contacts so as to protect the privacy of other members of your network. Hence always strike a balance between quality and quantity.

To sum this up: please keep in mind that the Internet does not forget. What is posted on the web is almost always available to the whole world and it stays forever. Your ability to restrict your audience selection or change your profile to a private mode doesn’t give you absolute control over the contents you post on social media.

If you follow these tips, you will have a credible social media profile, great brand and will be seen as honest as the day by your network contacts, followers and the public.