Social media can be helpful in the recruiting process. Like any other tool for job searching (resumes, cover letters, etc.), social media is another weapon in your arsenal to effectively market yourself. However, you need to remember that it is a tool, not the be-all and end-all.
In other words, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are useful when they reinforce the overarching message about what you offer to the legal hiring market. That message still needs to be crafted carefully based upon a realistic assessment of who you are, what you have done and the skills you bring—just as it would be for any cover letter or resume you would draft.
A few additional points to consider:
The fundamentals still apply
Regardless how fancy you may make your LinkedIn or Facebook profile, you still need to have skills and experience. Legal employers hire attorneys based upon their ability to do the work—not for their skills in creative profile drafting.
Professionalism counts—a lot
Although your profile might seem less “formal” than a cover letter, remember that the audiences are largely the same. The ease of access and relative informality of social media can lull you into lowering your guard. Keep descriptions brief, to the point and accurate. Avoid colloquialisms and jargon. No puffery. Etc.
Keep it current
Your profile can be an easy way to update potential employers and your network about your latest endeavors. Review it periodically to make sure you have included everything you want known about you in the public sphere.
If you are new to social networking, check out our Facebook 101 post.