Explore practical strategies for using your professional network to get a job by effectively and harnessing the power of your professional connections
Are you a lawyer thinking about your careers options and wondering how best to land a new position? In the current, employer-driven legal market, it's essential to tap into your professional network to maximize your chances of finding the right opportunity for you.
Building and maintaining strong connections within the legal community and further afield can be a game-changer when it comes to securing your next career move. This is sometimes called the hidden job market and it’s said that up to 70% of roles are filled through networking rather than job boards or recruiters.
In this article, we'll explore practical strategies for using your professional network to get a job by effectively and harnessing the power of your professional connections.
1. Nurture and expand your network
Whether you are aware of it or not, you already have a legal network. Your network also undoubtedly reaches beyond the legal community too, but many lawyers aren’t tracking who’s in their network and who they want to bring into it.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
(a) Create a way of tracking your network
You can download your existing connections from LinkedIn and use the spreadsheet as a basic network management tool. You can sort your connections by title, place of work and date you connected. This allows you to send personalised messages to them.
(b) Attend networking events strategically
Going to legal gatherings, conferences and seminars to meet fellow professionals is one thing, but use them wisely. Have a hit list of people to introduce yourself to – don’t be the person who just huddles with their acquaintances. You never know what information you might pick up from these networking opportunities – and make sure you follow up with new connections within a day or two.
(c) Join professional groups
Participating in and contributing to professional organizations can open doors to networking events, specialized job boards, and exclusive opportunities tailored to its members. Again, it’s vital to know what you want to gain from joining such groups so that you can assess whether the time you’re investing is delivering the results you want.
(d) Learn how to use LinkedIn properly
Most lawyers don’t have a clue how to use LinkedIn to promote themselves. In fact, many really dislike the idea of any kind of self-promotion which means they are missing a huge trick! LinkedIn is not only an incredibly powerful search engine, but also gives you a mini-website all to yourself through your profile. It also enables you to get in touch with people around the world in different sectors who you would otherwise never come into contact with.
2. Engage with Alumni networks
More and more law firms are setting up alumni networks for their current and former employees. Some are more active than others. I’m an alum of 4 law firms and their alumni networks all take a different approach to keeping touch and offering value. It will be so much easier to contact a fellow alum who is now in a different profession or working in a new sector if you can point to your shared connection. And of course, your former educational establishments may also offer you unique networking opportunities through alumni networks.
3. Leverage referrals and recommendations
As I mentioned earlier, the hidden job market refers to the sourcing of new recruits through the non-traditional routes of the job boards and recruiters. You may be referred by someone who already works in the organisation – this is actively encouraged by law firms and corporates who operate a staff referral scheme. Otherwise, contacts may be willing to put you in touch with someone in their network who is looking to add to their team.
It's even better when that person has already worked with you and willing to recommend you. We are social animals and tend to trust the opinions of those we like and respect (rightly or wrongly). A personal recommendations from trusted connections can significantly enhance your job prospects.
(a) Reach out to former colleagues who may have valuable insights or connections
Let them know about your job search and ask if they can provide referrals or recommendations based on your skills and experience. Many lawyers are worried about confidentiality so take this step with people you trust and develop your strategy from there.
(b) Collect client feedback that you can refer to when building your profile and CV
Even better if your client is willing to provide you with a recommendation as this can have a significant impact when you’re applying for a new position.
4. Arrange informational interviews
These are really coming to the fore with the increased engagement on platforms like LinkedIn. Informational interviews with professionals in your desired field or practice area can be a powerful tool for both career exploration and networking You can gain valuable insider insights, expand your network, and potentially uncover unadvertised job opportunities by speaking with people who are doing what you would like to be doing and/or working in organisations you want to target. Here's how to conduct an effective informational interview.
(a) Identify your targets
Start with a job title, organisation or skillset. LinkedIn is great for narrowing down your field of search to identify individuals who possess expertise and insights you might find valuable. Send them a short message to ask for a 15 minutes of their time.
(b) Prepare thoughtful questions
Their time is precious and so is yours. Know what you want to get out of the interview. Prepare questions that will get you the insight you’re after and make a lasting (positive) impression.
(c) Follow-up and maintain the connection
Make the most of every opportunity. Send a personalized thank-you note expressing your gratitude for their time and insights. Keep in touch on a regular basis and update them on your job search progress. Remember, building relationships is an ongoing process.
5. Stay active on professional platforms
To make the most of your legal network, it's crucial to stay active and engaged on professional platforms both online and offline.
(a) Share industry insights
Demonstrate your expertise by sharing relevant articles, insights, and legal developments on platforms like LinkedIn or legal industry forums. This positions you as an active participant in the legal community and can attract potential employers or referrals. Remember to adhere to your current organisation’s social media policy since some law firms are concerned about ‘attorney advertising’.
(b) Offer assistance and support
Actively engage with your network by offering assistance, advice, or support whenever possible. By providing value to others, you strengthen your relationships and increase the likelihood of receiving reciprocal assistance in your job search.
To sum up:
In this competitive legal job market, your professional network can be a game-changer when it comes to finding new opportunities. By nurturing and expanding your connections, leveraging alumni networks, seeking referrals and recommendations, engaging in informational interviews, and staying active on professional platforms, you can harness the power of your legal network to secure your dream job. Remember, building and maintaining relationships takes time and effort, but the rewards can be immeasurable in your career advancement.
Good luck on your job search journey!
If you want to know more about how I help lawyers to land their dream job, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can have a chat.
Categories: Job search