Tips on standing out in a competitive market
I’m often asked — by lawyers and non-lawyers alike — for tips on how to stand out in today’s competitive job market. People are often referred to me because of the way I’ve used my online presence to leverage my connections and reach to find a niche and job that I enjoy immensely.
As a result, I often find myself talking to young lawyers, lawyers seeking to change their current job situation, or people in other fields who are looking to alter their career paths.
Without fail, I tell each and every one of them that the key is to get out there. Don’t just sit behind your computer, looking for job openings and blindly sending out resumes. Instead, identify your chosen niche and make it yours.
Learn all there is to learn about it. Subscribe to blogs where people write about your chosen focus. Subscribe to Google searches that will bring news articles about your future job right to you.
Next, locate the movers and shakers in that field, whether it’s a specific area of law practice or another career path in a different field. Start to follow what those people are saying. On a daily basis, read their articles, blog posts and social media posts.
Reach out to them, whether via email or on social media, and ask for their advice. And whenever possible, take the online relationship offline. If they live locally, suggest meeting for coffee. If they live far away, suggest a phone call or attend an industry conference that you know they’ll be at. Once you have their ear, pick their brain and — most importantly — listen to what they have to say!
Next — and this is key — make yourself a part of the space you want to be a part of. Join a few select social media sites and connect with the people you’ve identified as important in the space.
And then, start a blog. No, I don’t want to hear excuses. Just do it. And do it now. As long as you have basic writing skills, you can start a blog. Your blog can consist of in-depth posts about topics that interest you — topics that you’ve been reading about now that you’re following people who write about your chosen field.
You can quote a line or two from one of their posts and then add your own spin on the issue. And then — this is key — drop that person an email and let them know how much you enjoyed their post, tell them why you liked it, and let them know you wrote about their post and provide a link.
Share your post — and theirs — on social media, along with links to other content relevant to your chosen field, and continue the conversation. Like I said — make yourself part of the space.
Alternatively, if you hate writing, then create a blog that features videos or podcasts or simply a microblog where you provide short commentary on relevant topics. But the point is — create a blog that showcases your ideas and your interest in the industry that you’ve chosen.
And — this is important — keep blogging! It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a large audience. That’s not the point. By blogging, you are accomplishing a number of important things.
First, you’re forcing yourself to stay abreast of topics trending in your field of choice. Second, you’re engaging in conversations with people interested in the same ideas, both by blogging about their thoughts and by sharing — and discussing — your posts on social media. Third, you’re creating a body of work that showcases your thought processes and your passion for the field you want to become a part of — something you can refer to when you apply for jobs or connect with others in the space. Finally, you’re interacting with others in your field of choice. This type of engagement is invaluable and is often what leads to connections and referrals that will lead to a job offer.
So, if you’re looking for a legal job or are simply looking for a change, that’s what you need to do. Good luck, and may the force be with you!
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.