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By: Amrit Rai, Recruitment Partner & Mike Race, Client Partner at ZSA

LinkedIn is arguably one of the most important tools in one’s professional arsenal. The platform has over half a billion users (15+million in Canada alone) and your own LinkedIn profile is often the first thing people will look up when they see your name come up in a professional context.  It pays to invest some time and energy in putting your best foot forward and sprucing up your profile. Here are 6 simple suggestions that will put you on the right track.

1. Photo

This is the first thing that people’s eyes will be drawn to, more so than any of the text. It’s human nature, we’re a visual species.  You want that first subconscious impression to be a good one. The key things to remember about the photo are that you want it to look business-like, high quality (not blurry), and friendly. So use a professional quality photo, wear a suit, and smile – it’s that easy! It’s fine to use your firm or company profile photo, those usually cover all the bases. And try to make it relatively recent, it’s not a good look to hang on to a photo of yourself from 10 years ago.

2. Headline

The headline is critically important as it appears right beneath your name in search results. It’s what will grab people’s attention, and show whether your profile is relevant to the job they are hiring for.

Usually it’s your official job title, but it doesn’t have to be exactly that, especially if that title doesn’t make clear what your job is.  For example, instead of “Associate at X Law Firm” which doesn’t tell people much, you could put “Associate in Commercial Litigation at X Law Firm” or “Commercial Litigation Lawyer at X Law Firm”, either of which gives people a much better idea of what it is you actually do.

Also keep it brief and clear. I wouldn’t suggest including abbreviations or qualifications here, or too many words.

All of the above is what people see in a search result, BEFORE they click on your profile. You also want to make sure that once they do click through, your profile itself looks impressive.

3. Write a damn good summary

This is an opportunity to sell yourself to potential contacts. What makes your mix of skills and experience unique? It doesn’t matter whether you write this in first person or third person narrative, just be consistent throughout.

The summary should build on what appears in your headline, detail your experience (in brief), and any achievements, in a short narrative. The goal is that anyone reading it will understand, in just a couple of lines, who you are professionally. 

4. Highlight your current responsibilities and achievements:

A few bullet points about your current position can be very helpful for prospective employers to understand what you do. This part should mirror closely what you have on your resume.

It’s also worth thinking about not just your responsibilities, but any particular accomplishments you wish to highlight. Have you built a book of clients? Hired and mentored a team? Won a big case? Put it here!

It can be worth including a one-liner of what the company you work for actually does too, if it’s not a household name (less relevant if you work for a law firm).

For previous jobs you don’t need to go into the same level of detail. List the positions, but keep any description down to a line or two.

5. Look for outside inspiration

I recommend spending some time looking at the LinkedIn profiles of other people in a similar position to you… or even better, where you really want to be. Search for other lawyers in your area of law, or in your city, or your in-house industry, and see what profiles you really like the look of. What have they done differently? What does their headline look like? Their summary? What skills are they listing? What keywords are they using?

You are likely to find a handful of tweaks you can make to really polish up your profile.

6. Include up-to-date contact information:

If you are looking either to network or for a new job, then at the minimum, provide your current, accurate personal email address, so that individuals know how to connect with you. Not everyone has access to inmails, or enjoys using that platform, so make yourself accessible.

If you have any specific questions, and wish to discuss how to best present your own career history and current situation in your LinkedIn profile, feel free to reach out to a ZSA consultant to arrange a conversation.

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