Putting Yourself on the Digital Market for Employers
I was a marketing major in undergrad, with a passion for technology and now I'm on my way to becoming a lawyer. However, I don't see why the three fields, marketing, law, and technology have to be mutually exclusive. There are many ways that they intersect, especially in the world of Web 2.0. For example, I worked on an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Google Ad campaign for a small law firm before starting law school.
In my first year of law school, in one of my first LRW classes, my Dean's Fellow told us to be careful about the kind of information we post on Facebook and Myspace, as employers can find it, and potentially rescind our offers. However, I haven't heard much talk about the benefits of social networking sites to market yourself to potential employers. On the other hand, legal employers are using their own websites, blogs, and social networking sites to improve their presence on the Web. In the current economy, law firms and other legal employers are laying off workers and tightening their economic belts. Most of the Internet methods of marketing themselves to their clients cost significantly less than traditional methods of advertising.
While employers are experiencing decreasing profits, at least they have a job. Law students on the other hand are often struggling to find someone that would hire them and actually pay them money for their legal skills. It would therefore seem crucial for students to put themselves out there and let potential employers know of their existence.
There are of course traditional methods of networking that we have grown to be familiar with, such as contacting everyone we know for references and inquiries regarding legal opportunities. Additionally, we use Symplicity, and for 2L's and 3L's, we have gone through OCI. However, what if these resources don't land us the job of our dreams? What do we do next? Do we send out hundreds of resumes to potential employers all over the city and country, or do we cold call any legal employer that has an opening? There has to be something else that we can do!
Like I mentioned earlier, we are in an economic crisis, and the job market for attorneys is especially grim. Nevertheless, there are some proactive steps that we can take as law students to secure a better job. One of the methods that has garnered some attention recently is the usage of social networking sites for job searching. A student at the The University of Iowa College of Law, has even created a whole kit for her Law School's CDO to "get with the program" of Social Networking sites.
In that kit, there are numerous suggestions that explain that LinkedIn, and even Facebook can be harnessed to find legal professionals in various fields with whom a student can connect. Additionally, the kit spends time explaining the importance of having a strong and positive presence when someone Googles you. If a person takes control of their online presence, potential employers will find a neat, professional resume extolling their legal expertise, and not pictures of that person at a party playing beer pong when they run a Google search of their name.
One of the best ways to begin accomplishing such a feat is to create a detailed LinkedIn profile. Many people use LinkedIn, but very few actually spend the time to really lay out in detail what they did at their jobs, and any activities they have done. Once that step is complete, you can start adding people you may know as a contact and increasing your network. This way, once you contact someone, it will be better than a cold call, since you will already know someone in common.
For those that are interested in truly making their legal presence known to the world, it might be a good idea to either start your own blog, or "blawg," as they are called in the legal community, or at least start commenting on other people's blogs. By leaving your name, LinkedIn profile link, and other contact information on people's blogs, legal professionals who are often the main contributors to legal blogs will begin to notice you and might even invite you for an interview!
In these tough economic times, it is important to be proactive in your search for a job. If you're a 1L, you should be focusing on your studies, but if you're a 2L or 3L, and still don't have something for the summer and are frantically trying to line something up, I hope that some of these suggestions give you some alternative methods for landing your ideal job. The confluence of law, marketing, and technology to put yourself on the market for employers is not a silver bullet, but it is one more tool in your arsenal of surviving, and hopefully thriving in these difficult economic times.