I'll let you in on a little recruiter secret. We miss reliable directories. Not so long ago, a recruiter could count on Martindale-Hubbell and Directory of Corporate Counsel to identify and contact "on-point" attorneys who met almost any search request. But as legal departments and law firms eliminate fringe expenses, these pay-to-list directories are quickly becoming obsolete. Good recruiters supplement directories with proprietary databases capturing years of networking and information gathering, but it would still be a big mistake to assume that we all know who you are and how to find you.
So the burden lies with you to create an online presence that, at a minimum, will be accessible to recruiters and corporate decision-makers. More importantly, you also have a tremendous opportunity to stand out and build an online imprimatur that will be far more helpful to your career than a standard directory profile.
Let's start with the basic first step and build from there. Create a LinkedIn profile that is complete and rich with information. Include comprehensive titles, job summaries and specific achievements. Make sure you set your profile so it's available to the public and searchable by other LinkedIn members. If your employer supports listings in Martindale-Hubbell, then take the time to provide a complete profile for the searchable online directory. Recruiters still use it as a source and we will continue to do so until it goes away.
The second step is to leverage the professional networking tools at sites such as LinkedIn, Legal OnRamp and Martindale-Hubbell Connected. These are Facebook- style features that allow you to stay connected with your existing contacts. If you simply make the time to keep up with your network and congratulate colleagues as you notice promotions and moves, then Web 2.0 will pay off for you in unexpected ways.
I suspect many of you are saying to yourselves, "Been there, done that." But I think it's important to reinforce the usefulness of doing this properly. For readers with privacy concerns, get over it. Embrace the fact that your professional life is public.
The third step presents the greatest opportunity for your career. Become a thought leader. If you are an in-house attorney, the most elegant Web 2.0 platform for you is Legal OnRamp (www.legalonramp.com). Here you can engage in best practices forum discussions with general counsel, post any of your publications, blog if you wish, participate in webinars and more. Legal OnRamp partners with the Corporate Executive Board's "General Counsel Roundtable" division. This means top-level decision makers see your profile, discussion contributions and publications.
The real power of Web 2.0 is the ability to provide content and discuss best practices. Building your online presence in this manner will lead to any number of desirable outcomes, including speaking requests, connection invitations and feelers from recruiters about leadership opportunities.
In addition to leveraging third party sites such as Legal OnRamp and LinkedIn, why not create your own site? For a fabulous example, visit www.settlementperspectives.com. This content rich destination is the work-a-holic product of one of the smartest in-house attorneys I know, John DeGroote. John is the chief legal officer of BearingPoint. What started out as a passion project has, I'm sure, also yielded the by-product of raising John's imprimatur and visibility within the general counsel and executive search communities. As it should.
The point here is that Web 2.0 presents seemingly limitless opportunities to offer value, demonstrate expertise and cut across barriers to make new connections. In short, you are no longer bound by the four corners of a traditional resume or directory listing. And when you do provide a resume for an opening, make sure it includes links to your Web 2.0 presence. Make it easy for the reader of your resume to research you by directing him to your best publications, forum discussions and other online content. Now you are really standing out in the crowd!