How to use Instagram to hire grads
Kitty Harris
Monday, April 3, 2017
6 min read

How to use Instagram to hire grads

When recruiting for a role, most employers will have a quick search to see what the online presence of an applicant looks like. Graduates usually prepare for this and clean up their social media to hide awkward drunk selfies and update their LinkedIn profile to demonstrate their seriousness about getting a job. What most companies don’t realise is that this type of social stalking works both ways. A bright candidate applying to a few different roles at multiple companies is more than likely to perform a google search in order to discern which business has a culture that aligns with what they are looking for.

BrigherBox research found that:

  • 43% of graduates checked a company's Instagram page before applying
  • 43% checked Glassdoor 
  • 77% read your blog

Startups are fighting a battle for good candidates against large corporates who can offer grads a recognisable brand name, higher salaries and enviable benefit schemes. Why should they work for your company that they only just heard of over somewhere like Kellogg’s? They already know who the big companies are and their parents know who the big companies are, so they are far more likely to be looking in that direction. But then, perhaps they come across your startup in a job ad and it looks interesting, so they decide to do a bit of investigation via social media. At this point they could either come across a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page and maybe a Twitter feed of content with a customer/client focus, giving them a bit more of an insight into what your startup does and who it caters for. The bonus is when they come across your Instagram feed, with behind-the-scenes photos of your office culture, beers after work with the team and snapshots of events you have put on.


If you are missing out on that golden moment when a graduate comes across your Instagram feed and instantly feels a pull to work at your company, then you are missing out on good applicants. BrighterBox has found that around 43% of graduates applying for a job somewhere will have a look at the Instagram feed of that company.  A business is only as strong as its employees, so you want to be attracting the best of the best and not missing out on easy opportunities to grab their attention.

By 2019 nearly two-thirds of all millennial smartphone users will use Instagram. If millennials are your target market then you are probably already building your presence on Instagram and looking forwards to increase your following and engagement as it is. If you are working with older customers you should still be focussing on Instagram as a key social channel, particularly as a route for hiring. A quick search of the hashtag #hiring brings up 405,382 posts on Instagram, many of which accompany simple images of the words ‘We’re Hiring!’. This is a fast and effective way to reach people who follow your brand and care about your product or service, because if they are following you on social media then they are invested as consumers already.
To succeed in hiring via Instagram you will need to look at a few different things: your content and how it attracts candidates, your posts aimed at direct recruitment and your strategy for gaining passive applicants. The first point is the simplest to address, because it refers to the way that you use Instagram as a whole. Look at how you want to come across on the platform and whether you want it to be purely about your product and service, or whether you think you can include an element of background information about life at your company. Some businesses combat the difficulties that arise from this by creating an account strictly for one and then the other – so having a separate account about employee life and achievements in order to promote a sense of collectiveness amongst the team, as well as cultivate an accurate picture of what it’s like to work at your startup for recruitment purposes. Salesforce does this very well, with a successful Instagram account dedicated entirely to showcasing their employees and informing their followers about both awards they have won for being great employers and roles that are available to apply for.
When it comes to notifying your Instagram community about a job role that has come up, you will want to ensure that you create a post that is both eye-catching and informative. As already mentioned, most accounts use the phrase ‘We’re Hiring’ overlaying a graphic related to the brand – Canva is a great resource for this sort of thing. Utilising relevant hashtags below your post will ensure you don’t get too lost in the crowd, but be sure to place emphasis on relevance and don’t hashtag #blue just because that’s the background colour of the post. Adding a call to action such as ‘tag a friend who should definitely apply’ doubles your chances of being seen by more candidates as well as increasing your brand exposure overall. Keep a close eye on hiring posts because you are likely to get people asking questions in the comments and it will demonstrate your helpful attitude as a company if you reply quickly.

Passive candidates are the ones that are on Instagram, possibly following your company page, but not actively seeking a job. This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be the perfect addition to your team, just that they don’t realise it yet. Seeking out talent that is reserved in this way takes some time and effort compared to simply reeling it in, but it can be worth it if you are aiming to attract the very best. Work out where the people are that you want in your team and begin interacting with them via likes and comments, drawing them towards your brand.
Instagram is ultimately one of the best tools for hiring graduates because it engages them on a playing field that they know very well. LinkedIn is useful at times, but many graduates simply don’t check their LinkedIn profile very often, as it feels a bit alien to millennials that spend their lives elsewhere. So, the bottom-line is that if you can’t get grads to come to you via a job board, LinkedIn or advert on your website, then go directly to them and fill up their screen with your recruitment message as they are scrolling through their Instagram feed for the fiftieth time that day.

Want some help with hiring bright grads? BrighterBox works with exciting startups in London and the UK to deliver handpicked graduates ready to shine.

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