Getting a Job as a Lawyer – Part 5 – Social Media

Social Media – it’s everywhere, and everyone is on it (whether they like it or not).  Even if you don’t think you’re on Facebook, chances are that somebody has taken a photo of you and “tagged” you in it – if you get a Facebook account, you’ll probably find that out….

But the question of the moment is this:  how does your use of social media impact upon your job hunting.

In Part 2 we talked about the possibility of broadening your horizons and adding some layers of depth and breadth to your story.  Maybe you decided to use social media as part of that?  If so – good effort.

I’m not going to suggest to you that social media can “make or break” your job hunting prospects.  It probably can’t.  The other factors we have already spoken about are some of the most critical.

What social media is, however, is the feature that will distinguish you.  No matter how well you have cleansed your personal appearance, tweaked your resume, coiffed your hair and polished your speech – the chances are you didn’t do any of those things when you posted on Facebook at 2:34am last Friday about you and your buddy throwing up in a taxi.

There is Nowhere to Hide

OK just in case this wasn’t obvious (and I certainly hope it is) – you can’t hide your Facebook, your Twitter, your online Reddit rant, your inexplicable comment on “i-want-to-be-an-emo.com” or much of anything else.  It can always be found.

The legal industry is not so big that the firm you are applying to can’t find somebody to give them access to that kind of information, should they choose to look for it.

There is a chance, of course, that they won’t look for it.  Many firms (surprisingly to me) still don’t conduct online searches of potential candidates.  However, many do (and more will start to).

Who Cares – I’m only human?

True.  And most lawyers I know would prefer to employ a real person with a real personality than somebody who is as exciting to be around as a wet blanket.

However, firm brand and reputation are of paramount importance.  The single partner firm needs to maintain the image it’s created just as the bigger firm needs to hold on to its branding and the perception of expertise.  This is where firms will look at you to determine whether you are a good fit.

We can illustrate with a little story:

Jane is looking for a job.  She has a GPA of 5.9, pleasant demeanour and is confident and easy to deal with. Her resume shows that she is engaged in a number of extra curricular activities, some involving law and some not.  Jane has Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts where she has around 1000 contacts.  A search of her posts on those accounts show that Jane systematically and vehemently belittles anybody who doesn’t agree with her view that tigers should always be kept in captivity.

Bob is also job hunting.  He has a GPA of 5.9, a pleasant demeanour and is confident and easy to deal with. His resume shows that he is engaged in a number of extra curricular activities, some involving law and some not.  Bob has Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts where she has around 1000 contacts.  A search of Bob’s posts on those accounts show that Bob consistently engages in productive discussion with his peers about university, leadership and different management styles.

Bob and Jane apply for jobs at a firm.  Absent any other factors, who are you going to hire?

So again it’s about Purpose?

Yes – purpose is everything.  Neither Bob nor Jane had any notion of their posts being relevant to their career at the time they made them – they were just issues of personal interest.  But what those posts do is to give insight into what Bob and Jane really care about once you start to peel back the veneer of their performance via resume and interview.  Social media gives a better insight into the “real you” for firms who choose to go there.

So I’m not suggesting you need to go out and only engage on topics like “Why I love Advanced Constitutional Law and Theory”.

I am suggesting that, with every post, you need to engage your brain before clicking the magic button.  Think about how what you are about to say would be viewed by a potential employer.

Sometimes – just don’t say anything.

Happy Lawyering!

Chris

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