How to use LinkedIn to further your legal career

Written by: Gazette Jobs
Published on: 17 May 2021

LinkedIn article image

Over the last 5-10 years, LinkedIn has become an essential personal branding platform and a very useful tool for jobseekers. As many as 90% of recruiters regularly use LinkedIn to find suitable candidates, so if you’re looking for a new role, you’re missing a trick if your LinkedIn profile isn’t up-to-date and properly optimised. We asked recruitment experts Realm Recruit, ENL Legal Recruitment and G2 Legal Limited to explain how they use LinkedIn to find suitable candidates and advise how lawyers looking to move should use the platform as part of their job search.

How do recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates?

Since it launched LinkedIn has established itself as an essential tool in the modern job market. More than 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn when they’re searching for candidates. It’s a great tool for recruiters who want to seek passive candidates (those who aren’t looking for a job). It also offers information that isn’t readily available on a traditional CV application.

Most recruiters use LinkedIn’s premium Recruiter service. This allows them unlimited people browsing, meaning recruiters can search all candidates even if they’re not in their network. Advanced search allows recruiters to type in combinations of criteria such as job title, keyword, skills and location. Once a list of promising candidates has been created, in-mail messages allows recruiters to directly message any user on LinkedIn. George Molyneux Buckley, Realm Recruit commercial insurance and construction specialist explains: LinkedIn is an excellent tool for both sales and marketing. Not only does it enable recruiters to make new connections and advertise job opportunities free of charge, but it allows us to build our brands and enhance our reputation, which is key.

Recruiters use LinkedIn to actively search for the right candidates and encourage the right candidates to make contact with them. Sometimes, a carefully put-together job advert/LinkedIn post can take some of the hard work away by attracting interest from those inside or even outside one's current network. 

In terms of searching for the right candidates, a straightforward search using the search bar at the top of the page will deliver some relevant results. However, recruiters could not hope to find all relevant candidates by doing that alone. 

A Boolean search is a good starting point. Boolean searches help to clearly define and limit search results by combining words and phrases through using the words, AND, OR and NOT. By way of example, if I were looking for a qualified lawyer who specialises in ingress of water claims, I might search for, "Property Litigation" AND Solicitor.

From there, LinkedIn allows us to narrow down search results by location, connections in common (including the names of any connections) and the names of current and previous employers.

Some LinkedIn profiles have very limited information, so it can be difficult to confirm exactly what some lawyers do. In those cases, cross-referencing LinkedIn profiles with law firms' websites and the websites of the Law Society and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives can be necessary in order to ensure that candidates are indeed suitable for the role at hand.

How should candidates use LinkedIn to find their next legal job?

This depends on whether your current employer is aware that you are looking for a new role. Remember your current employer will have access to LinkedIn and if they’re in your network they will see any changes you make. So, use some or all of the points below depending on your circumstances:

  1. Let people know you’re available announce the fact you’re looking for a new role. LinkedIn has an “open to finding a new job” setting – there are two options depending on whether you wish it to be kept private from your current employer.
  2. Update your photo – remember LinkedIn is a professional site
  3. Update your profile – add the skills you’ve acquired in your current job. Flesh out your LinkedIn summary and professional experiences to showcase those accomplishments.
  4. Research companies you’re interested in and follow them. This will keep you updated about company news and new positions as they become available
  5. Make more connections – unlike the song by the Notorious B.I.G this won’t bring you more problems
  6. Join groups relevant to your industry – share content and engage regularly with your network
  7. LinkedIn job search – It sounds obvious but don’t forget there are lots of jobs listed on LinkedIn
  8. Get active – Post any relevant blogs or articles you write. The more you post the more you’ll be noticed and build recognition. James Hitti, Regional Director (Scotland) at G2 Legal advis: “Connect with your peers and recruiters, follow your competitors, create or share content, comment on posts, drop a connection a message if there is something you notice you are interested in or there is an opportunity you are interested in exploring.  All of this is building your network on the platform.”

LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for securing and exploring new opportunities. It’s important to ensure that your profile is up to date and includes a specific job title in your headline e.g., ‘Residential Conveyancing Solicitor’. Doing so will help ensure that your profile appears in searches carried out by recruiters when they are looking for suitable candidates.

If you are actively looking for your next role, LinkedIn has a discreet function where you can set your profile to ‘open to work’ so that recruiters and hiring managers know that you are actively looking for a new opportunity and what your preference would be. This is a completely private function and not visible to the public/ your current firm. 

Lastly, you can use LinkedIn to expand your network and make yourself known to specific hiring managers, recruiters and employers. If there is a particular firm or area of law that you are keen to progress within, connecting with lawyers/recruiters working at that firm or within that practice area is an easy way to keep updated and front of mind with any suitable positions. Cameran Waite, Realm Recruit's specialist in residential conveyancing adds "Most hiring managers (and many recruiters) will post vacancies via LinkedIn before the roles are advertised on sites like Reed and Indeed, seeing these openings before your competition will put you in good stead moving forward."

Are there any drawbacks to using LinkedIn to find your next legal job?

LinkedIn is a powerful job search tool, but like most things, it requires two-way participation to be most effective. Having an updated profile and an extended network will make your profile more visible to hiring managers and recruiters, improving the engagement you are likely to encounter and the number/relevance of roles you might be considered for. 

LinkedIn also does require an investment of time. It can take time for connections to form and conversations to get started. It’s important to keep your information up to date, sharing content and engaging with your network. However, the rewards significantly outweigh the time.

Spending 15 minutes on LinkedIn a week, engaging with posts, checking your messages and updating your bio as your career progresses is an easy way to fully utilise LinkedIn and help boost your chances in your job search. 

What should candidates avoid doing?

ENL Legal Recruitment explain: “The most common mistake is typos. Once you’ve completed your profile go through it with a fine-tooth comb and once you’ve done that let somebody else read it. Nothing ruins your credibility quicker than a typo. Recruiters use job titles as a search field. Calling yourself a Legal Ninja might make you feel trendy, but it also means you will not be included when recruiters do their searches. No pictures of you holding a cat, watering can or your award-winning marrow. Hopefully no further explanation is needed.”

In addition to the above, there are a number of mistakes Lucy Wickham, a specialist family law recruiter at Realm Recruit, sees candidates make which have the potential to hinder their job search including:

Not optimising their profiles by including relevant and specific keywords

Most importantly, these keywords should relate to their job title and practice area. For instance, a family solicitor should include the keyword ‘family solicitor’ or ‘family lawyer’ in their headline and ‘about’ section of their profiles; those who don’t use specific keywords to specify which practice area they work in are unlikely to be found by recruiters and hiring managers. Importantly, Jude Cornelli, Regional Director (London) atG2 Legal Limited, makes the point that: “Not updating information or having incorrect information doesn’t look great. Most firms or hiring managers will cross reference LinkedIn once they have received your CV. If it is out of date or contradicts what is on your CV, it can cause problems or put them off. Things like employment dates, different degree grades etc in fact I’ve had both of those just today!”

Not having a profile picture

According to LinkedIn, profiles with a photo are viewed 21 times more than those without one, so it’s essential that you have one if you’re serious about using the platform in your job search. Tom Davies, Regional Associate Director (London) at G2 Legal Limited adds “If you’re looking for a job through LinkedIn the first thing people will look at is your LinkedIn profile, effectively it’s your CV but a lot of candidates still don’t update it properly before applying. Ask yourself, what would a potential employer think if they were reading this?”

Not having the LinkedIn app or having notifications set up

Installing the LinkedIn app on your phone (and ensuring notifications are turned on) will mean that you’re less likely to miss a message from a recruiter or hiring manager about your dream role. It also means you can update your profile and build your network while you’re on the go.

Not having an extensive network

It's important for lawyers to build up their networks on LinkedIn by connecting with others, whether that’s their peers, colleagues or others working within their practice area. Those with more connections and who engage more with other users are more likely to get noticed.

Antony Setford, Consultant atG2 Legal Limited(Patent & Trademarks) continues: “There are many pitfalls candidates make without realising. This can start with a badly written profile when directly applying for a role, not having their LinkedIn profiles up to date with relevant information, not wanting to engage with a recruiter due to a misconception of what value they bring to the process, not taking time to reply to messages sent to them either by an employer or recruiter and putting off applying for a position until it is too late.”

As you can see, if you’re in the market for a new job, fully utilising your LinkedIn profile will undoubtedly maximise your chances of getting hired.

If you need any more support or career advice, check out our resources: