5 Ways to Engage Talent on Instagram

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Aug 11, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

With more emphasis being placed on building a sustainable company culture and hiring people who not only have the relevant skills but also fit into this culture, employers are starting to realize the importance of social media networks to achieve their recruitment goals. A recent survey by SHRM confirms this as they found that recruiting via social media is growing with 84% of organizations using it currently and 9% planning to use it (see the graph below depicting this growth trend). However, in terms of attracting new talent, many employers are not strategically using social to it’s fullest potential. In the first part of our Social Recruiting series, let’s focus on Instagram Recruiting.


Numbers based on surveys by SHRM

The rise of Instagram can largely be attributed to the attention economy where the attention span of online users is lower than ever before as they navigate through the world of information overload. Instagram’s focus on photos enables users to consume content more efficiently and satisfy users’ information needs. In a world where 55% of users who view a page spend less than 15 seconds looking at it, capturing a user’s attention is vital. The potential of Instagram for employers lies in its ability to help attract both active and passive candidates as well as bring life to your employer branding strategy. Here are 5 ways you can use Instagram to engage talent:

1. Keep It Personal

Instagram is the perfect tool for staying connected with users on a personal level. What candidates want to see when they come across company accounts on Instagram is the visual content of what day-to-day life is like in the organization. Posting pictures of things like new starters, celebrations & achievements, the office environment, and even the coffee machine give candidates an inside view and helps them picture themselves working for the organization or even disqualify themselves from the recruitment process. It also helps build the trust of candidates as you start to give more company insight.

Who’s doing it right? A great example of a company keeping it personal is the Marriot Hotel chain. They have created a dedicated careers account on Instagram and it regularly features the latest activities of employees in and out of the office, from internal luncheons to charity efforts.


2. Use Hashtags

Using hashtags is a very simple way to categorize users and find people with a common interest. There are two ways you can use hashtags if they are looking to recruit people:

  1. Searching for potential candidates using hashtags
  2. Attracting potential candidates using hashtags in your posts

For the first tactic, you need to decide on the hashtag you want to search for. Instagram users looking for a new role are known to use hashtags such as #HireMe and include additional information such as the job title they are looking for along with location and contact details to increase their findability. Alternatively, you can search for an event hashtags that are industry-specific. For example – if you wanted to hire for a senior marketing role, you could use the hashtag #martechconf which is an annual conference focused on marketing technology, and find out what users are attending this conference. This will enable you to identify potential candidates much more efficiently.


The second tactic involves putting relevant hashtags around job opportunities in your own posts. This allows potential candidates to find you and see what you have to offer.

Who’s doing it right? Hybrid the Flower Company, a small florist based in London, recently posted a job opportunity for a floral event designer/coordinator. Notice how they include the hashtag #nowhiring to attract candidates as well other hashtags for the job title and the location. Although a hashtag such as #eventflorist wouldn’t be the most popular on Instagram, especially when compared to other hashtags such as #marketingjobs or #salesjobs, the fact that it is much more niche means whatever active candidates are searching for this hashtag are more likely to apply for the role.


3. Engaging Passive Talent

Using hashtags is indeed an effective way to engage with active candidates but what about passive candidates? These types of candidates won’t be using hashtags like #hireme, nor will they be actively searching for hashtags like #salesjobs so what can employers do in this situation? The answer is Boolean Search strings. Boolean Search is a way to organize your search using a combination of keywords and Boolean Operators (site:, AND, OR, NOT etc.) and is really a fantastic way to produce more accurate and relevant results. You can insert Boolean search strings into search engines as well as social search engines. That being said, Instagram is one of the few networks that doesn’t accept Boolean. But there is a way to get around this. For example, let’s just say you wanted to find recruiters on Instagram from Ireland, preferably Dublin. You can insert the following search string into Google: (recruiter OR recruitment OR recruiting) (dublin OR ireland)

What we are telling Google here to do is search the Instagram site and look for any mentions of a recruiter, recruitment or recruiting in conjunction with any mention of Dublin or Ireland. Once you find the relevant people, you can reach out. Make sure to keep the conversation casual and try to take it offline.

Who’s doing it right? We are! These types of searches can be a little difficult to perfect but we have a whole training mission covering this topic so be sure to check out our Blackbelt Recruitment Training Programme to learn more.

4. Getting Employees Involved

In a recent blog post, we discussed how essential it was to get internal buy-in when it comes to introducing new recruiting programs and the same can definitely say for Instagram. While it may be more difficult to articulate the ROI for developing an online talent community, for example, the process of getting employees to act as brand ambassadors and engage on Instagram should be a little less laborious. The reason we say this is because there is more of a fun and engaging element when it comes to posting visual content online. We see evidence of this everywhere on Instagram where company employees are frequently posting positive messages about what life is like working in the company. This brings more authenticity and increases the reputation of the company.

Who’s doing it right? Many of Hubspot’s employees are active users on Instagram and regularly post work-related visual content. For example, Siobhan below promotes how kind-hearted her colleagues are as well as the managers at Hubspot. Unhappy employees, even if asked, wouldn’t post photos like these so candidates viewing this content are likely to be interested in roles promoted by the company.

using-hashtags-instagram-recruiter employee-branding-instagram

5. Be Creative

You should know by now that Instagram is a great tool for posting ads and a lot of companies have realized this. But how can you stick out from the crowd? How can you pique a potential candidate’s interest? You will notice on Instagram that you don’t need to have design skills to create an effective job ad. Here’re a few examples for some inspiration

Who’s doing it right:


Mindaugas Petrutis recently advertised for a UX/UI designer role for his company Sktech labs. We have a kid ‘announcing’ the new job opportunity and it gives a brief indication of what he’s looking for from the candidate and also has a good call-to-action.


The second job ad is from Angelica Izaguerra from Magical Kitchen. This is a simple but effective post as they incorporate the role they are hiring for into the job ad.


The Owls Cafe have fantastic imagery here and also add some humor to their job ad. It’s clear and offers a call-to-action for candidates.

So there are some tips on how to engage candidates on Instagram. With 400 million active users, it would be crazy not to test this as a social channel for recruitment. Instagram is unique in the sense that the platform wasn’t specifically created for employers looking to recruit. This encourages them to become more creative in their job ads as well as create and sustain their brand. By putting into action the aforementioned tips, you will be much better placed to attract and reach out to the right candidates for your job openings. Visual content is powerful – use it.


Check out the original post on the Social Talent Blog.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.