15 December 2011

By Jacob Levine, Juris Blogger
Amanda C. Ellis presented her program, “Using Social Networking in Your Job Search: Performance over Presence.” Ellis is the Vice President of Special Counsel, Inc., a firm specializing in the lateral transfer of lawyers. Ellis uses social networking professionally to recruit and place attorneys, and is the author of The 6Ps of the Big 3 for Job-Seeking JDs.

In the legal industry Social networking sites are useful for lawyers to connect with one another, for clients to review their attorneys, and for attorneys to interact with clients. In the interest of time, while there are many social networking sites out there, Ellis focused on the big ones: Google +, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

In terms of the job search today 90% of firms reviewing potential employee applications check the applicant’s profile on social sites. While some firms only look at the photo and the page title, a candidate does have the opportunity to show more information through his social networking profile than on a formal resume. A polished LinkedIn profile could become a selling piece for the candidate who knows how to use it to showcase his talents. Using tools such as “Profile Preview”/”View As”, and Google alerts, you can preview your profile page and, from there, you can determine how you are presenting yourself to the online world.

Ellis pointed out that it isn’t so much a question of which social networking sites to use, but how to use them. Having a profile on multiple networking sites helps pull your name to the top of search engine results. However, you must be able to use the sites for them to have any effect. So what are the differences, and how do you utilize each site?

LinkedIn should be used more liberally than Facebook. You should “link” with anyone you would exchange business cards with. LinkedIn creates a social network of people who work in your field. It’s a business network rather than a personal network. As such, be sure to fill out your profile and upload your profile picture with that in mind. Ellis recommends that you do one update per week on LinkedIn, optimally on a Tuesday morning. This update could be about an interesting article, or event that you are attending, or organizing. Branchout.com, an add-in to Facebook, allows you to network on a larger scale. Box.net, another LinkedIn add-on, allows you to upload your writing sample. For those already employed check out JobChangeNotifier.com.

Twitter, on the other hand, is designed to connect and “follow” people you don’t necessarily have a personal relationship with. Following the local news broadcaster or counsel in your law field in other cities is the norm here. Ellis recommended that you follow someone well versed in Twitter in the beginning to learn how the site is used and what a proper Tweet is. While there is the option of linking your Twitter account with your LinkedIn profile; Ellis discouraged this. According to her, the steady stream of Twitter updates is not ideal for LinkedIn. In the same vein, it’s best to keep your Facebook profile separate, as well. Facebook is a more personal networking site—updates you’d share with Grandma and friends are not what future employers are looking for. Keeping that in mind, it’s still important to present yourself appropriately on Facebook as employers can still see that profile.

Google + is Google’s version of a social networking cite. Ellis says while it is not a common social networking site right now, because it is connected Google, a profile on Google + will appear high on search engine results.

Ellis charged us with the following to-do list to keep us active and up-to-date in the 21st century job search:

o Use Facebook preview to see how strangers view you
o Polish your LinkedIn profile
o Create your Twitter account and start following people
o Create your Google + account

Any way to stand out in an ultra competitive market is worth considering. For more information about Ellis and social networking today, check out her book The 6Ps of the Big 3 for Job-Seeking JDs and its companion blog www.6psbig3.com. There are copies of the book available to Duquesne Law students and alumnae in the Career Services Office.

Jacob A. Levine is currently a 4PTD at Duquesne University. He is the Clinic Student Manger for the Duquesne University Electronic Discovery Clinic. Jacob earned his undergraduate degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and will graduate from Duquesne University School of Law in 2012. He can be reached through through LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/jacobalevine.