It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
In an era dominated by social networking apps, the cliché, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’, has gained even more relevance. Your social media capital — the number of followers, likes and subscribers you attract, can reap significant economic rewards.
Law firms have long realised the importance of a strong social media presence for their marketing, graduate recruitment and brand image. Firms use Facebook, YouTube and Twitter widely, and some have also ventured into the millennial playgrounds of Instagram and Snapchat. These social media networks also hold great value for students researching a law firm, sourcing information, and ultimately, for securing a training contract. This is particularly so with LinkedIn which has rapidly become the go-to network for business and recruitment. Here are five ways LinkedIn can help you secure a training contract.
1. LinkedIn can help you make a good first impression
A significant proportion of our daily communication is now digital. Through emails, WhatsApp messages and social media comments we present a digital version of ourselves: increasingly the first time you ‘meet’ someone will be digitally, rather than face-to-face. LinkedIn is the perfect platform to make a stellar first impression by showcasing your professionalism to a potential firm through a profile picture, background photo and details of your past experiences. Ensure that you have a complete, current and carefully-crafted profile, as it is a chance to market yourself. Furthermore, always add a polite explanatory note to any connection request you send!
2. LinkedIn can help you research law firms
When sending applications to law firms, it is vital to, firstly, understand the kind of work the firm does and, secondly, to find nuggets of information about the firm to make your application stand out; LinkedIn can help you do both. Law firms post frequently about deals, initiatives and their successes on LinkedIn, which is useful content to incorporate into your application answers. Additionally, through reaching out to junior members of the firm on LinkedIn, you can add gloss to your application by gathering crucial inside information that might not be published on the website or in the graduate recruitment brochure. Ideally, you should ask people you’ve met before at networking events. If not, try to find someone who has something in common with you such as the same school, university or degree subject. Most of the people I reached out to were people I had met previously at events, but there were also many whom I’d never met in person — so don’t be afraid to reach out.
3. LinkedIn can help you develop commercial awareness
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a commercial law firm that doesn’t ask for commercial awareness, commerciality (or any other imaginative term that basically means the same thing). By following law firms, their clients as well as top commercial lawyers on LinkedIn, you can get a genuine insight into the types of issues that are important to them. Through reading about the key concerns, interests and plans of the various players in the legal sector, you can develop a stronger understanding of the business of law, which will help you to demonstrate your commercial awareness during each stage of the application process.
4. With LinkedIn you can seek tailored advice
The path to securing a training contract is often long with many obstacles along the way. However, LinkedIn can help you get through not only the application stage but also help you prepare for video interviews, assessment centres and vacation schemes. You can search for people who have recently succeeded in the application process and build rapport with them to get tips about how to succeed and what to expect at each stage of the process. I reached out to some mutual friends which made them more willing to help out.
5. Check yourself before you wreck yourself
Get your uncle, neighbour or, even, grandma to check your application before sending it off… or you could get it reviewed by someone who has successfully navigated the recruitment process already. Once you think you’ve got a killer application, you can politely reach out via a LinkedIn message to future trainees at the firm you’re applying to, current trainees or associates who might be able to check and proofread your application. The added advantage of getting someone from the firm to check your application is that, with their permission, you can list them as one of your contacts on the application form. Note that partners probably won’t be impressed if you ask them to check your application!
Don’t neglect the rest…
Admittedly, you shouldn’t focus solely on LinkedIn, as all your social media profiles need to be suitable for the eyes of a graduate recruitment manager. Although consistency across your social media profiles is great, there is nothing wrong with showing a bit of personality, for example through your travel snaps on Instagram. However, one platform that candidates often neglect is WhatsApp. Remember that when you send an application, the law firm may have your mobile number and can quite easily (privacy settings permitting) check your WhatsApp profile, so make sure that your photo and bio are up to the mark on there too.
Use these five techniques on LinkedIn and you might just give yourself a better chance of securing a training contract. Would I have secured a training contract without the advice and information I gathered through LinkedIn? Probably not.
Inshaal Ahmad is a future CMS trainee.
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