Successful Self-Marketing in Today’s Legal Job Market
By Jamy J. Sullivan
For legal professionals seeking new employment opportunities, self-marketing is a critical skill to master. Competition for job openings has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and it’s not enough to simply have the required abilities and experience — you must learn how to make your talents visible to the widest possible audience.
Effective self-marketing also means showcasing your willingness to take on new challenges and grow professionally. This is especially true now, when many organizations are moving quickly to adapt to a shifting corporate and legal landscape. Facing uncharted territory, firms are seeking candidates with the necessary skill sets to help them successfully navigate change. If you want to appear on the radar of these firms, you need to market your skills and accomplishments — and market them well.
What is self-marketing?
Many professionals are reluctant to promote themselves because they view it as displaying overconfidence. So before exploring strategies, it’s important to clarify the distinction between marketing oneself (good and effective) and bragging (bad and usually counter-productive).
Put simply, bragging places the focus solely on oneself and exaggerates achievements and skills. In contrast, self-marketing showcases a professional’s abilities while placing emphasis on how these talents add value to an organization.
Evaluate your skills
The first step in self-promotion is to make an honest assessment of your background, skills and expertise. To get an accurate picture of your skill set and competitiveness, you need to benchmark yourself against the abilities in highest demand within the legal field.
Given today’s unique work environment, it makes a lot of sense to emphasize communication and staff management skills, as well as the ability to manage remote teams. With firms scattered in different locations and members working from their homes, it’s the responsibility of the legal administrator to over-communicate and keep the firm together, even when physically apart.
Showcase tech proficiencies
If technological prowess was important before the pandemic, it’s even more crucial now that so many employees are working remotely. Among other things, legal professionals should be comfortable with videoconferencing platforms and chat applications like Zoom and Slack. Such skills will be in high demand for the foreseeable future, as many firms are likely to extend remote work opportunities even after they return to the office.
When marketing your tech skills, it’s best to present them as a means to an end — that end being the smooth functioning of the team. Rather than simply listing your software proficiencies on your resume, give examples of how you’ve used those platforms to improve workflows or communication in your organization.
Curate an online presence
Because many firms are working remotely, they’re also hiring remotely. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to curate your online profiles and ensure relevant skills are reflected there.
Prospective employers are increasingly looking to social networks to form a picture of potential hires. LinkedIn is without a doubt the most important platform for professionals, and profiles on this network should include details about related skills, previous work experience, education and professional certifications.
Further, you should ensure you have current photographs and professional content across all your social media accounts, as prospective employers are likely to look up any you have.
Focus on networking
Building and advertising skills is critical to self-marketing. The other piece of the puzzle is forming professional connections through networking. A strong professional network allows you to showcase skills to contacts from within and outside of the legal profession.
Traditional in-person networking involves attending meetings, seminars and social gatherings and seeking opportunities to talk shop with other attendees. Today, unsurprisingly, online networking through social media and virtual conferences has become just as important.
Spend as much time as you can fostering connections, taking care to seek introductions from known contacts when needed. Contributing to professional communities and sharing industry news will further advertise your knowledge and expertise.
Above all, legal professionals should not neglect their professional growth, even in today’s unique environment. Making self-marketing a priority can give you a competitive edge and help you take full advantage of new opportunities.