Last week, we were thrilled to launch MSJDN’s new Distinguished webinar series–in which we’ll hear from industry coaches and recruiters about different ways to distinguish ourselves within the legal profession.

To kick off the series, we heard from Cory Boatwright, the Military & Veterans Partnership Manager with LinkedIn’s Social Impact Team. His presentation walked through the strategy and utility behind each section of the LinkedIn profile and showed us several new tools that can make all the difference in boosting your visibility online and taking proactive steps to grow your network–both virtual and IRL. MSJDNers also had the chance to meet one-on-one with coaches from LinkedIn’s legal team for targeted guidance.

The bottom line here is that you own your story. LinkedIn allows you to present your story and highlight the skills and experiences you want to show the world. You also make your own luck–and LinkedIn is a great platform to position yourself for success and to find others who can help you along the way.

There are 1.5 million lawyers on LinkedIn, so how do you stand out?! Here are just some of the highlights from the presentation, and you’re welcome to access the slides here for more great info.

Your Profile

Self-identify as a military spouse. This allows LinkedIn to generate reports and better support our community; the information is not visible on your profile. One trend LinkedIn is researching is the fact that military-connected employees are actually more loyal and stay with an employer longer!

  • To do this, click on “Me” and then go to “Settings & Privacy.” Scroll to “Personal demographic information” and click “Edit demographics.”

Take a great picture. Smile, use good lighting, and dress 25% nicer than the role you want to step into (yup, dress for the job you want).

Add a 30 second elevator pitch. You can now add a quick video to your profile picture. Not many people are doing this, so it’s a great way to distinguish yourself!

Mark yourself “Open to Work.” If you are job seeking, be sure to say so. Recruiters are under pressure and time constraints, so they’re more likely to find you if you indicate you’re open to work. And you can use this tool to specify that you’re looking for remote or flexible work! A great shortcut to connect with the right opportunities rather than wading through the wrong ones.

Your 5-10 word headline. This highlights your professional identity, so tell people who you are and what you value. But watch for phrases like “transitioning military member” which aren’t widely understood by employers.

Capture all of your experience. This includes volunteer work AND career breaks! LinkedIn has a new feature that allows you to add a career break to your experience timeline. This is your opportunity to control the narrative around your career gaps. Highlight the kills you acquired or honed, mention that you focused on building your network through volunteering, or just be upfront about the fact that you used this time to recharge.

  • Language matters here; be sure to use the words and phrases recruiters are looking for. Interestingly, the more times you mention “program manager” the better a program manager LinkedIn thinks you are. Work with the algorithm!
  • You can also simply list skills under each job description to get those words onto your profile!

Be sure to add licenses, certificates, and skills. This is another place recruiters find you!

  • Focus on what is most relevant for your current career and the roles you are currently seeking. Leave out old and irrelevant certifications to lessen the noise.

Networking

The reality is that people rarely find you on LinkedIn. You should be using LinkedIn to find others. Place your cursor in the search bar and hit “Enter.” Look at those filters near the top of your screen—you can find people, companies, and groups to connect with. Click “People” in the menu across the top for example, then click “All filters.” Before you arrive at your next duty station, use this feature to find lawyers who are already there. You can connect with alumni from your college or law school. Filter by “Past company” to find military retirees. Or target people working for a particular employer you’ve set your sights on.

Now expand your network strategically by reaching out. Explain your personal connection and ask for 20-30 minutes of their time to hear about the legal community in town, or the bar association they lead, or the company they founded. Then translate the online chat into a real life connection when you arrive in your new home!

My husband retires from the Air Force THIS MONTH. Now that I’m grounded for a change, I am excited to use this feature to find ways to get more involved in my local community. I just found out that a past state bar president served in the Army Reserves for years. There’s my in!

The Job Search

That apply button is easy, and LinkedIn sees many military-connected applicants apply to too many positions. Spend more time up front learning about a company and connecting with people who already work there. This allows you to be more strategic about where you apply and add depth to your application. You need to show how your story aligns with the new role. That’s right, you have to distinguish yourself!

You can also search out groups on LinkedIn to connect with other applicants and learn from each other. Look for military spouse groups and alumni groups from your alma maters. This is another great pool of connections to tap to request informational interviews, whether you’re looking to join the local rotary or apply for your dream job.

Take Advantage of LinkedIn Premium

In the next couple weeks, LinkedIn will be making it easier for military spouses to access this awesome resource. Make a note to check back at LinkedIn.com/military for all the details.

With Premium, you’ll also get free access to 17,000 courses on LinkedIn Learning. In addition to sharpening your “hard” skills like excel spreadsheets, this platform will help you develop crucial soft skills like how to have difficult conversations, how to return to work after a career gap, and how to negotiate work flexibility!

Finally, reach out to LinkedIn whenever you need. Connect with Cory Boatwright and ask if he can point you to a member of the Legal Team. They’re there to help and happy to hear from you!

Kristen Jones, MSJDN President

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