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Attorney 2.Oh! Leverage The Web To Land Your Next Attorney Job – Part 1

September 12, 2011

The following is an excerpt from a white paper recently written for a group of 3L’s at a prominent law school.  The principles are applicable to attorneys looking for jobs at any level.

There is no question that Web 2.0, with its inexpensive tools and exponential reach has changed much of the way business is conducted these days.  Recruiting is no exception.

Today’s graduating law students may not even remember Web 1.0, but in early web days, web information was a one-way flow of information that website owners published, and then sat back and hoped visitors would find.

The next iteration of the web – “Web 2.0” – was much more interactive, and invited conversation and development of community.  Early sites like MySpace (known as a gathering place for entertainment-minded people) and Facebook (known as a gathering place for friends and family to have digital conversations and share photos) contributed to the social revolution.

Flash forward to today and “social media” is ubiquitous.  Recruiting is a natural context for encouraging inexpensive social conversation – hiring entities can showcase their companies and advertise their jobs.  Employee candidates can shop opportunities in great detail.

Lawyers and law firms, with their heavy emphasis on historic precedent and conservative natures, have been slower to adopt social recruiting to the same extent as their corporate cousins, but they are increasingly making their way to the social media party.

What does this mean for attorney job seekers?  It means that you must, must, must (did I mention “must?”) pay attention to your digital footprint and take affirmative steps to grow and manage that footprint.  Employers are either looking for you, or where they already know you, they are checking you out with a “social media background check” prior to extending an offer.

Taking Aim

Some of us already have a footprint that we’re either unaware of or ignoring.  Take the case of Justin P. (not his real name), a late 20-something patent agent that I presented to an AmLaw 30 firm.

I hadn’t yet started digitally vetting candidates at the time, but when I put his name and email address into my Google contacts list, Google diligently fetched a matching profile picture for me from the web.  I’d never seen the system do this, and I nearly fell out of my chair when the contact record auto-populated with a photo of a shirtless guy waiving a beer.  Amusing picture, but surely not one that my stuffy AmLaw 30 client was going to like.

When I mentioned the photo, Justin immediately knew the one and sheepishly told me he’d “forgotten” of its existence.  That photo would likely have surfaced during a later social media back-ground check.

Jobs are hard enough to come by these days with-out putting yourself through the whole process on a particular job, and then finding yourself rejected because a past indiscretion surfaces on the web.

What if you know for a fact that you spent the first 25 years of your life in the library and there can’t possibly be a digital skeleton in your closet?  Do you need to pay attention to the advice in this article?  Let’s just say this – if the job comes down to two equal candidates, and one has demonstrated marketing savvy by building a positive digital footprint, the job goes to the marketer.

Why?  At the end of the day, law is still a business and lawyers are starting to recognize the importance of web marketing savvy in client acquisition and retention.  If two candidates are equal or “equal-ish,” online marketing savvy and experience are premium tools for you to bring to the party.

Is digital reputation building expensive or time consuming?  It is definitely not expensive and it’s scaleable, meaning that you can start small and grow your reputation over time by adding more tools and strategies.  Junior attorneys already have written resumes and that’s half the battle in starting the process.

Where to start with building your digital reputation?  I advocate the “AIM Model” for digital reputations – Assess, Influence & Monitor.  Tomorrow, we dive into Assessment strategies.

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