Is it acceptable to ask for work experience through Twitter, asks GDL student David Woodall. And what’s the etiquette for asking?
A brief look at my own Twitter feed reveals that both law firms and individual lawyers are working hard to build and maintain a presence on the site. And given how hard many work at it, and how official things have become, is it not possible now that Twitter represents an extension of a firm or chambers website? So, arguably, it now becomes acceptable to engage with them through this medium; whether that be asking questions about what work is like there, or just asking for work.
As is reported so often, there are thousands of law graduates looking for work experience. Is it not better to sell yourself to the head of a law firm or a director of HR by going directly to their individual Twitter accounts, rather than sending a cover letter and CV to a generic email address?
A lot of my classmates ask how I get work experience, and for me it followed along the lines of “send out 70 requests for some work experience, get one offer.” So if it only takes a couple of minutes to find hundreds of tweets from lawyers complaining about their workload, why not offer to help them with that load, for free, through Twitter itself? And as each request only need be one sentence long, you could send out 70 requests in just minutes…
In my opinion, asking for work experience through Twitter can easily go one of two ways. Either the lawyer in question is so blown away by your confidence and ability to think outside the box that he or she offers you some work experience on the spot. Or you get blocked. But what’s to lose?
So having established that asking for work experience through Twitter is a wonderful idea, let’s move on to the etiquette. As I’ve not heard of any precedent in this area, what follows is all entirely made up by me:
1. Keep it brief. You have only 140 characters to impress. In fact, drop any words that are not selling points. You could try, for example: “articulate, amazing, hardworking, organised, work experience, me?”
2. Avoid text speak. i.e. “OMG I like my dogs 2, u shud totes give me work experience?”
3. Don’t suck up. i.e. “I loved what you said the other day about the weather, can I have some work experience please?”
4. Turn your feed into your CV. So start re-tweeting lawyers and celebrities (I’m thinking Stephen Fry, not Kim Kardashian) and high-brow legal articles. Work hard to avoid the temptation to tweet about anything that is on the Daily Mail or Sleb BB. Your feed is now your personality, so make it look good, and reflect what you think the law firm would like to see. If, like me, you tend to tweet nonsense it may take some time to turn your feed into something more respectable.
5. Alternatively, check out what the lawyer you follow tweets about, and carbon copy it. Start liking what he or she likes and tweet about it, and comment on their tweets (avoid commenting about their family matters, though, and especially don’t tweet about how similar your kids are to theirs if you don’t actually have any).
6. When you must add something yourself, come across as interesting and witty, and charming and mysterious and quirky (I have yet to achieve this myself so cannot offer any examples, sorry!). Ditto for your profile blurb.
Follow these steps and you’ll have more work experience than you can shake a stick at. Or not.
David Woodall is currently studying the Graduate Diploma in Law. He writes the Diary of a GDL Student column for the Huffington Post UK.