LinkedIn 101: Creating a Stand-Out Profile
- Posted by Joel Okoye
- February 19, 2024
When it comes to selling your value to recruiters and hirers alike, there is always some due diligence and preparation needed in order to ensure your digital profile is up to date and really sells the value you will offer to a new employer.
Getting your CV up to date and reviewed is the most obvious first step as this humble document is still the main catalyst to displaying and demonstrating your skills and experience.
However your LinkedIn profile is often seen as the digital version of your CV and more often than not, will be viewed in parallel with any documents you send directly in the application for a new role. Ignoring this as a marketing channel to ‘sell’ you and your suitability is a mistake some jobseekers make – but the truth is, it should be given the same care and attention as your physical CV, if not more.
As the world’s biggest professional platform with over a billion users currently registered, LinkedIn is the place to broadcast your value as a legal professional and if utilised properly, can convey this in the most interactive and engaging of ways ways that a CV alone can never achieve. The benefits it can provide and the edge it gives candidates willing to invest in maximising its potential are numerous and at times, it can be the only thing one actually needs to get a foot through the door of prospective hirers, particularly if you aren’t actively looking for a new opportunity, but would be open to speculative conversations about what’s out there.
Here we look at why a polished LinkedIn profile is indispensable to your job search in the modern age and the quick, easy wins you can amass using a well-crafted profile to help earn – and cement – a place in a hirer’s shortlist.
Headlines And Pronouns
When talking about selling yourself, fewer things make more of a difference in your efforts than a strong first impression. As the first piece of text a recruiter or potential hiring manager will see and the second thing that will tell them about who you are, your headline is what will give the first impression of your skills, credentials and suitability for a role, and you have no more than 220 characters to make it count.
It might be tempting to go with a simple “ Paralegal at X Company” but to hiring firms this is of little – if any – value. Rather, it is best, according to Mimax Senior Talent Partner Margaret Buj, to go with one of the below formats. You can choose any of the 3, depending on your PQE level, experience and skills but you’ll notice that each one concisely showcases your value in some way to prospective employers. This is because the key to writing a headline that captures attention, whatever the structure used is to succinctly paraphrase what you do and what you bring to the table.
- Role & Specific achievement, e.g. Solicitor at BLM. X (significant) deals closed/X high-profile cases won.
- Role & Years of Experience in practice area(s) and region, e.g. Solicitor at BLM. 5+ years of experience in dealing with insurance litigation, housing disrepairs and property damage in Liverpool.
- Role & what your expertise is, e.g. Senior Lawyer at BLM. Business Ethics & Management, London.
You can also add a few other things that make it easier for hirers to identify you in your headline, such as pronouns. The use of pronouns lets hiring managers, colleagues or online connections know how to address you and avoid any misconceptions.
Fix Up – Look Sharp
We live in an era where by and large, seeing is believing, and it is well-documented how influential imagery and media can be in any context, let alone when you want your profile to be viewed by potential hirers.
As such, a profile photo is more of a necessity than a luxury to your job searching efforts should you be looking to remain as visible as possible to prospective employers. As it is right at the introduction section of your profile, it is very likely the first thing people will see immediately after they land on your page and whether consciously or subconsciously, the first thing with which you will be assessed both as an individual and a professional.
Now, to some this is seen as a potential hurdle to their job-searching efforts, as a photo can be a source of discrimination, considering it can also display ethnicity, age, gender, religion and more. While it is an unfortunate reality that certain individuals, hirers included, can write off a potential candidate with unconscious bias, it still serves you well to include a well-taken photo in your profile. There are a few reasons for this:
Firstly, from a purely technical standpoint, profiles without a photo on LinkedIn are categorised by the algorithm as incomplete and are therefore less likely to show up in the search results to hirers and/or recruiters looking for profiles similar to yours.
They also appear inauthentic, as profiles usually tagged as fake are those assumed to be the ones without a photo to showcase proof of identity.
A photoless profile can also lead to a perceived lack of professionalism or ability to utilise LinkedIn, as to many hiring managers, it can be inexcusable to not have one considering the level of technology candidates have at their disposal to get one of good quality.
On that note, it is only photos of such standard that will be deemed acceptable and not just any photo will do, so deliberate effort must be taken to ensure a photo that showcases a good blend of professionalism and personality is used. Remember that your photo is what will most strongly be associated with your professional image and reputation, and what you carry everywhere with you, whether on LinkedIn, another platform or in real life. If your photo is taken on an evening out with friends from several years ago, then it is absolutely right to review and replace with something that illustrates who you are on a professional platform.
Are You Easy to Contact?
If your profile has garnered the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager, and boxes are being ticked on potential suitability for a role, the next step is to make direct contact.
The quickest way to kill your chances of being selected however is a failure to include basic contact details like a phone number and an (appropriate) email address – something a surprising number of candidates still fail to check.
Make sure these are all present and clearly visible in your profile, and that the email address provided is as professional and easy to read as can be. Avoid the likes of informal addresses like email@example.com or something indicating personal information as this can trigger subconscious biases. Ensure that this sense of professionalism is reflected in other details present in your profile such as your LinkedIn URL and any possible links to portfolios or achievements and keep them short, clean and easy to access.
If you wish to add anything you have written such as white papers written papers or links to any recorded work done at conferences or events, then you can include them in your featured section. Regardless of where you add them though, make sure these are present in your profile if possible, as they give recruiters a chance to see more of what you can dover and above generic job descriptions and your ‘About’ section.
Your About Section
Contrary to what some may think, this is not a simple regurgitation of what skills and credentials you’ve got on your CV. It is your opportunity to buttress your case for your suitability and is what people will be next interested in if your headline catches their eye.
Think of it as an extension of this part of your profile – if your headline sparks the interest then your About section will do the heavy lifting when it comes to converting that interest to action. Therefore, make the best use of the 2000 characters you are given in this section to write relevant, useful information that sells your skillset and any successes you have seen (that is attractive to potential employers).
Some examples of ‘what good looks like’ from LinkedIn themselves can be found HERE which may give you an idea of how to give yours an upgrade.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Underneath your photo and headline you will see buttons that allow you ‘add profile section’ or add a frame to your profile picture. Both can be useful in providing more information on your job-seeking status, as well as adding more depth and insight to your personal profile and achievements.
The ‘open to’ button will give you three options, but as a jobseeker the one to select is ‘open to work’. If you are currently not employed this is one of the easiest ways to let recruiters and hiring managers know you are a potential candidate without even clicking on your profile. Failure to have to take this step can actually keep you out of an employer’s shortlist, as it may lead them to assume you are not open to any potential opportunities. However it goes without saying that caution should be taken if you are currently employed and your current employer is not aware of you looking for a new role.
In the ‘add profile section’ you can add core information (education, skills), recommended (certifications, courses, links to white papers or presentations you’ve delivered), and additional (pro bono work, languages spoken, test results and more).
Whichever section you choose to enhance, we recommend that you write this first person to avoid sounding pretentious, and to give readers a little flavour of your personality. Do you volunteer? Can you speak Russian? No one wants to hire a robot, and these added extras can help to make you more of an attractive prospect to would-be recruiters and employers.
That said, ensure that, whatever you choose to add either in this section or throughout your profile, they tick the below boxes:
- Does it showcase your competence as a legal professional?
- Does it communicate your value, with supporting evidence?
- Does it help you stand out?
Walk the Walk and Talk the (Right) Talk
Equally important to your job-searching efforts is what you actually say and do on the platform, as this can often tell hirers and recruiters a lot about who you are and whether or not you are worth their attention, without even clicking on your profile.
The content you post, repost, share and take the time to comment on communicates how you want others to interact with you on the platform, whether you are aware of this or not.
Therefore, ensure that you have no track record of any ill or inappropriate communication on your profile and the content you interact with. Get rid of any comments that are distasteful, controversial, or aggressive in nature and keep your feed as clear of such content as possible. This is not to say that personality is unwelcome on LinkedIn but it should not be at the expense of your professional reputation and especially, your job-hunting prospects.
Instead, focus on sharing content that showcases and demonstrates your commitment to professionalism, growth and value in your area of expertise. This will tell anyone that sees you on the platform through your interactions that you are a communicator who likes to stay on top of their game and has a finger on the pulse of the industry and specialism.
Do you share (and comment on) 3rd party news relevant to your practice area? Do you champion awards or events linked to your current firm, or the wider legal industry? If so – it’s always worth glancing at your own feed from time to time to sense-check how those looking at your profile see your activity and how you interact with your own professional network.
Similarly, if you list networking or relationship-building as a skill, but your feed is like a ghost town – there is also a disconnect, so will need amending where necessary.
It’s not (Just) What You Know…
Following on from this point, capitalise on endorsements from colleagues and clients as these can be significant green ticks to employers and recruiters. Social proof remains a great influencer in people’s decision to ‘buy’ or in this case, get in touch to find out more information and whether online or otherwise, should not be dismissed as a waste of space to include in your profile.
Any recommendations or endorsements you have acquired, you should be adding regularly and if you don’t have any, don’t be afraid to ask. You will be surprised how willing people can be to give you a recommendation (especially ifyou offer to give one back in return).
The key to building a standout LinkedIn profile starts with all of the above but it certainly doesn’t stop there. Your reputation is only as good as the amount of investment you put into maintaining it, and this applies on LinkedIn just as much as it does in real life, so establish a routine that helps you stay on top of your online presence and keeps your status up to date.
In today’s dynamic professional landscape, maintaining an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is not just a formality; it’s a strategic necessity. Your LinkedIn presence serves as a digital representation of your career journey, skills, and aspirations. It’s often the first impression you make on potential employers, recruiters, clients, and collaborators. By keeping your profile current, you signal to others that you’re actively engaged in your field, open to new opportunities, and committed to professional growth.
Furthermore, a well-maintained LinkedIn profile can enhance your visibility, credibility, and networking capabilities, ultimately opening doors to unexpected opportunities and fostering meaningful connections.
So, whether you’re actively job hunting or content in your current role, investing time in curating your LinkedIn profile is a proactive step towards shaping your professional narrative and advancing your career journey.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. personnel to Practice Managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121.