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Ten tips for law students on using Facebook to get a job

Facebook law students

Law students, like lawyers, are quick to dismiss Facebook as a vehicle for publishing, networking and creating a professional profile for employment.

Big mistake. Facebook, for those who seize the opportunity, is an excellent place to learn, nurture relationships and build a strong word of mouth reputation.

While LinkedIn may be the most widely examined social network by potential employers, Facebook is used by over 75% of the people in this country.  According to a September 2015 study done by the Society for Human Resource Management, 19% of companies had sourced new hires from Facebook. And almost 25% of HR professionals thought it was important to be on Facebook when looking for a job.

Business development and marketing consultant, Matt Sweetwood (@msweetwood), in a piece in the Huffington Post, shared nine tips on how jobseekers should be using Facebook.

I’ll add one and share my thoughts.

  • Be Professional Your Facebook page should look serious and be representative of you are. Make sure your profile is completely filled out, just as you would complete a LinkedIn profile. Facebook’s profile provides an even greater opportunity than LinkedIn to share information on your background and current status. Do not post things you wouldn’t want employers to see. Partying, vulgarity and drinking are great on Facebook if they are what you would tell an employer about or show them picture of.

Keep in mind what a survey of over 900 hiring managers observed from potential candidate’s social media:

Facebook for law students

  • Smart Security Allow your posts to be publicly visible. There should be nothing in your timeline that you would be afraid of people seeing. Like it or not, the net has made much of our lives an open book. Attempting to conceal items can be looked at with suspicion. At the same time, go to the setting: “Who can add things to my timeline?” and set to “only me.” Turn on approval of all tags before they appear on your timeline. You don’t want other people’s comments when they have tagged you to appear on your timeline without your moderation.
  • Be Friendly Friend people who may add value to your life based on the items they may be sharing, whether the items are personal or professional. This will include people you do not know personally. Accept friendship requests in the same fashion. Will the person add value to your life by you getting to know them and seeing the items they share? Nurturing relationships and learning from others can be a strong guide.
  • Publish In addition to blogging on your own publication, Facebook is an excellent place to publish in short form. Four to six paragraphs , two to three hundred words or more is fine. The easiest way to do this is to share a link to a news story or legal development you have read. Then pen a piece on why you shared it, why you found it interesting and what you think it means to people. Not everything you share will appear in the News Feed of all of your Facebook friends. As you use Facebook more, your personal friends, family members and other people who have no interest in such things will never see your posts on legal matters. At the same, you will be building your influence in the area.
  • No Politics Politics and religion ought to be off limits. No matter how strong your beliefs, you will offend a good number of people who differ. Worse yet you’ll be drawn into heated discussions in which there are often no winners.
  • No Whining and Complaining Face your problems, don’t Facebook them, per Sweetwood. Whining about a company may may feel good for a minute or two, but employers are not looking to hire those who complain. Potential Facebook friends do want to befriend whiners. Complaining will also limit likes, comments and sharing of your posts, ultimately reducing your influence on Facebook and limiting those who see your posts in their News Feeds.
  • Great Profile and Cover Photos If your profile picture is embarrassing or tasteless, change it. At the same time, Facebook is not LinkedIn, you don’t need a professional headshot. Have an interesting and engaging photo that presents you in a positive light. Change your cover photo, that sits above your profile picture, from time to time with pictures you like and are proud of. Perhaps family, local scenery or people or geography – think pride, fun and engaging.
  • Always Post with a Picture Everything you share ought to have a picture. People are attracted to stories which include pictures. No pictures mean less engagement and less influence. You’ll look boring and out of touch with best practices. News stories and blog posts you share with a link ought to automatically pull in the picture from the source. Share pictures you take with a brief description of the event, the people or the place.
  • Be Interesting and Informative Share things that you believe others would find of value. Know that even personal items people enjoy as they are getting to know you and what you value. Facebook has become the front page of the newspaper for many people in this country. As you read things in the news and as part of your learning experiences that you believe interesting, share them with your take. Lawyers share on Facebook news stories and blog posts regarding legal matters and events. These items draw significant engagement. Follow their lead, success leaves clues. Share personal items as well. Gatherings with friends and family, law school events and things that you’ve enjoyed. People like to get to know people.
  • English 101 Spelling and grammar are important. Read over what you’ve written and go back and edit items. Communication skills are among the most important skills employers want to see — including on social media. Keep the “ROTFLOL”s to a minimum.

Getting a job as a law grad is tough. Yet most grads do the same things as everyone else. Law school placement offices are more apt to talk about the hazards of Facebook and social media than the opportunities they present.

Doing what others do not do separates you from the pack. It’s that separation and drive which legal employers are looking for. Knowing you’ll do what it takes too get a job tells them you’ll do what it takes to  grow business, something most law grads are woefully unprepared to do.

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