How to Recruit on Instagram

There’s an awful lot of chatter about how taking advantage of social media is the next bold step for recruiters to take. This makes sense, given that most 18 to 50 year olds spend as much time as possible with a phone pointed squarely at their face.

Like it or not, people pay a lot of attention to social media. And when it comes to attention, you can’t turn your nose up at Instagram. 800 million active users a month. Most of which have the app open for half an hour every day on average. Which is mad when you think about it.

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So, how do you make your mark?

There are plenty of ‘How to…’ articles doing the rounds.

Most of them read like instruction manuals for the elderly. And most of the things you are advised to do will have little to no effect on the people you want to engage.

- Post pictures celebrating company milestones.

- Take shots of the best looking consultants on a night out.

- Get three of the lads to put their arms round each other in front of the company logo at reception.

- Take a top-down photo of a selection of pastries.

- Meticulously document that one day when someone’s dog visited the office.

Apart from the pictures of the office pooch, literally nobody outside of your firm cares about any of the above. Most Instagram users are on it either camped out in the office bogs or sardined into a commuter train.

The last thing they want to see is a bunch of people they’ve never met pretending to have a laugh at their job.

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Instagram’s a form of handheld escapism for most people in 2018. You can either provide that or add enough value that paying attention to you becomes practical.

Entertainment or value?

Case in point: @unemployedprofessors is a custom essay writing service powered by either retired or unemployed academics. As it stands, they have 448k followers.

By comparison, Liam Gallagher has 481k.

Somehow a group of jobless teachers have managed to amass over 90% the following of one of Britain’s greatest rock stars.

How? Their Instagram is a pretty much just a meme account. But by focussing on sharing content they know performs well, within their target demographic they have an ideal platform that drives business towards their site.

Here are their most recent 12 posts:

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Now if you go and ask your Director if you can turn the company gram into a meme page they might not take you seriously. But the important thing is to identify what good content looks like to your target audience. And then produce it. Consistently.


Keep in mind the movement of the user’s thumb when planning your content. By default, their thumb will be continuously scrolling the screen down. Unchecked, this can, and will go on for hours.

The whole purpose of your content should be to get their thumb to stop scrolling. If your content’s ignored, the chance for engagement is 0%.

It’s easy for me to make fun of what I think is pointless content. I call it ‘nontent’. The best way to avoid it is to post about the one thing you and your audience have in common: your market.

Whether that’s pics of food in posh restaurants for the hospitality sector. Or short form videos of the latest breakthroughs in drug development if you work in pharma. The goal is to capture their attention and stop their thumb from scrolling.

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Beyoncé announcing her second pregnancy with this image was the most liked post of 2017. It’s a brilliant image. One you’d definitely stop scrolling for.

Would a mediocre post about a live job, with basic graphics and minimal information do the same thing? Unlikely.

How about a visually striking video, relevant to your client and candidate’s market, with news of a new development? Probably.

And the latter isn’t hard to achieve.

If creating thumb-stopping content is too much of a hassle, curating it is a doddle. Image and video sharing is common on the platform and it’s good manners to credit your sources when you can. Repost for Instagram is free on iOS and Android and means sharing content takes literal seconds.

Job ads

This just isn’t the platform to post an image with text over it outlining the job title, location and salary. I mean, you definitely can, but unless it looks like something an ad agency came up with it’s probably best deployed sparingly. Or not at all. 

Companies that want to drive ad response usually do so by redirecting to an external site through a link in their bio.

Increasing visibility

Building a following quickly is more than doable. Growing one is the result of consistency over time. Switching to a business account is a free feature that allows you to do all kinds of things to hack the growth of your brand. The basics only take a few seconds to get right before hitting post and watching your notifications go nuts.

Sponsored posts

This is the most direct way to get your content in front of people. It’s also the only method that costs.

If you’ve got the additional spend to chuck at a recruitment campaign, sponsoring allows you to promote content so it pops up in the feeds of users within a certain demographic and/or location. There’s tonnes of criteria to tinker with and you pay based on exposure to a set number of users, over a set time frame.

Click through rates average out at around 0.5% making the cost per click about £1. Certainly handy if you can afford it. For the rest of us, it’s a case of building a following “organically”, i.e. for free.


The algorithm Instagram uses means hashtags only really function if people are actively searching for them. Or if they have a history of engaging with enough similar posts that it starts popping up on their explore feed.

Bear this in mind when picking hashtags.

Pick two or three of the most relevant tags to your market and search for them on This will display ranked search results for any terms commonly used in conjunction with your tags of choice. Use these additionally to multiply your chances of exposure.

It’s best to aim for hashtags with less than a million posts associated with them. Any more than this and your post will only be visible for maybe an hour before it’s lost in a sea of content. Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post and these are best buried in the first comment rather than taking up room in the caption.

You can also tag a location to each post.

Again, this only works in real terms if users actively search for posts in that location. Which people definitely do. Just not very often. If you’re going to post job ads, it can be handy to tag the location of the role.

You can also tag other users. This is a bit of a cheap trick unless you’ve got the OK from them, but doing so makes you visible from a tab on that user’s page. Useful if they’re prominent in your market.

There’s lots more to do on Insta, including making use of stories, but they focus on the here and now. Which in terms of branding and promotion is difficult to perfect and definitely a lot more time consuming.

A lot of brand building comes from testing content. You need to find what works. Apply the 80/20 principle to produce high-performing content at scale.

3 to 5 posts a day is a good start. And you’ll be able to analyse the best hours for activity. Hootsuite is the go to name for scheduling posts in advance. You can set times throughout the day and it connects to all major social media platforms.

The more you post, the higher the chance of gaining exposure.

The point isn’t necessarily being the biggest brand, but the one with the most weight in your market.

Do you know much how a millennial weighs?

An Instagram.

Trot that one out next time you’re in the same room as someone with a ‘Meet me at McDonald’s haircut and watch them L their AO.