LinkedIn always comes out on top when we talk about social media recruiting. Facebook joins the conversation now and then. You may have even seen a post I shared outlining 6 ways to use Twitter for recruiting. But how many of you have an Instagram recruiting strategy? Instagram is one of the most popular social networks across the globe? It’s like, taboo to even mention recruiting on Instagram. That’s always baffled me! Hopefully, you will find this guide useful, as I attempt to explain “How to recruit on Instagram”

As of June 2018, monthly active Instagram users reached 1 billion. Yep. Seriously. Over half of all U.S. users are between the ages of 18–29 (hello, millennials and generation Z-ers) and about 40% are between 30–40-years-old. (hi, experienced talent).

I could list stats for days, but I’d preferably not bore you to death. Instead, I’ll tell you in super-simple terms how to make recruiting on Instagram your secret weapon, not just a mindless scroll factory.

Step 1: Build your personal brand

You don’t have to be formal on Instagram like you’re expected to be on LinkedIn. However, if you choose to use Instagram as a recruitment tool, your profile should be tasteful, especially if it’s public. Instagram is a platform to showcase your life in-the-moment, in its rawest form.

Post photos as per usual out with friends, enjoying your hobbies, etc. When you reach out to candidates on Instagram, they’re going to creep your account—that, you can expect. And when they do, they’re looking for common interests and tidbits that tell your story. That’s what we all do anyway, right? You, as a person, reflects who you are as a recruiter. Always remember that it’s way too easy to deceive people on social media. Potential candidates are scoping you out like you’re scoping them out so be careful not to false advertise.

StEp 2: Nail the caption

Instagram is a visual storytelling platform, but that captions are arguably just as important. If you want to be recruiting on Instagram, your photos need a thoughtful and relevant context.

Take a page out of Angela Bortolussi’s book. Bortolussi is a recruiting manager and partner at Recruiting Social. She posted the following photo on her personal Instagram account:




If you go to her account, you can see that that ↑ photo’s quality and style are consistent with the others. The only difference is that she used the caption as an opportunity to pitch not just herself, but a role she’s recruiting. It’s pretty seamless, too. Nothing forced. Mirror her strategy when you are recruiting on Instagram.

Step 3: Use and follow relevant hashtags

If you’re really wondering how to recruit on Instagram then this piece is HUGE. Instagram only allows 30 hashtags in a single post. However, research says users think that’s a bit spammy. A safe range is between 5 and 11 hashtags, but only if they apply to the corresponding content. Otherwise, it falls on deaf ears a.k.a. is a waste of your time. If you don’t want to load your caption with hashtags, you can leave them as a comment instead.

How do you know if a hashtag is appropriate? Hashtag research. If you research a hashtag for a software engineer, for example, you can type #softwareengineering into the search bar to see how many people use that particular hashtag. See below:  

Same goes for a more specific search like #androiddeveloper. Scroll the photos in the feed, check out who used them and how often, and look to see if the hashtag matches the content. See anyone you like? Do some digging and see if they’re a good fit. Instagram also recommends similar hashtags. See? 

You should also follow hashtags. That way, anyone who posts a photo with that hashtag will show up in your feed. Fun fact: captions that include hashtags see more engagement than those without.

Step 4: Beef up your bio

Instagram recruitment is as much about you as it is about finding candidates. You can’t start your search without a bio. Before you engage with potential candidates, make sure they have somewhat of an idea about who you are, what you do, and why you sent them a random direct message (DM). The format of your bio is totally up to you, but take a look at this example:

Technology recruiter 👩‍💻
Dog mom 🐶
Coffee addict ☕️
San Francisco 📍

Short and sweet. My audience knows what I do, a couple of my interests, and my location. That’s just enough information to humanize you.

Step 5: Video, video, video

Video content is poppin’ on every social network. My advice is to jump on the bandwagon and turn Bortolussi’s caption into a video. This should be the cornerstone of your Instagram recruiting strategy. Record yourself talking about a role you’re recruiting and any exciting work you’ve done that says you’re qualified to recruit for that given role. That’s how you begin to build credibility. If you post a video on your story, you have 15 seconds to get the job done. Post it on your profile, and you have a little over a minute. The reason? People don’t pay attention for much longer than that. So, get your message down to a science.

And don’t think you need a fancy camera either. Remember, Instagram is about you in-the-moment. Record on the fly or at least make the video look like it was spur of the moment.

Step 6: Check-in at events

There is more to Instagram recruitment than just posting pictures, video, and using hashtags. Tagging your location is an easy way to attract passive job seekers, but also for you to find candidates actively. Alyssa Ramsey, the Qualigence marketing team’s former brand manager, posted this photo on her account when we attended a marketing conference in Chicago last fall:


View this post on Instagram


#MarketingTeam fun 💃🏼🙃🤓 #dschi #digitalsummit

A post shared by Alyssa (@alyssa.ramsey13) on

Notice how she tagged the venue/our location. Hundreds of other marketing folks at the conference added the venue to their photos, too. Now, everyone’s pictures live in the same feed forever (the same way hashtags do). Had we been hiring last fall, we could have used the photos in that feed to source marketing candidates. Based on their attendance, we already know they’re passionate and motivated to stay up-to-speed on marketing trends. Sweet, right? Some initial questions are out of the way before we even start the screening process. Passive and active job seekers do the same at events: scope out other attendees and look for opportunities.

Oh, and tag yourself at different locations, whether its cities when you’re traveling or your favorite local coffee shop.

Step 7: Stay active and engage with your audience

You don’t need to post every single day, but you should post a few times a week—especially if you regularly engage with candidates’ content. We all lurk on the internet, but you don’t want the reputation of “lurker” per se. Like and comment on photos and respond to comments. Comments should be thoughtful. None of that “Great photo!” garbage. And as for DMs, etiquette should be the same as InMail or email. Be polite and respond, even if you get a rejection.

Like any strategy, recruiting candidates on Instagram will take trial and error. Building a personal brand won’t happen immediately. Hashtag research and writing captions can be annoying and you’ll probably overthink, but the payoff is worth it. See for yourself.

Have you had success recruiting on Instagram? Enjoy this article on how to recruit on Instagram? Let us know in the comments!

Recruiting services at Qualigence International

The Q offers an a la carte menu of professional services: sourcing, competitive intelligence, recruiting, recruitment research, and project outsourcing—with a twist. Get in touch to learn more about how we use social media to attract and source some of the best talent on the market.