Person on their phone using Instagram
Kitty Harris
Thursday, May 27, 2021
7 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 companies are now realising is that this type of social stalking works both ways. A bright candidate applying to a few different roles at multiple companies is very likely to perform a Google search and social audit to discern which business has a culture that aligns with what they're looking for.


Why instagram?

Man saying 'like like like' with hands gesturing like he is tapping on a phone screen

BrigherBox research found that:

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

People may consider Instagram to be a dying platform (due to the rise of the notorious TikTok) but think again! A solid 77% of Gen Z social media users visit and use Instagram and 43% of graduates check out a company's Instagram page, highlighting that this platform is still a top-tier arena for company awareness campaigns. If you miss 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're missing out on good applicants. So get on the Insta wave now (if you haven't already)! A business is only as strong as its employees, so you want to be attracting the best of the best and not dodging easy opportunities to grab the attention of talented graduates.


1. Stand out against (boring) corporates

    Startups are fighting a battle against large corporates for top candidates. Corporations can offer grads a recognisable brand name, higher salaries, and enviable benefit schemes, so why should they work for your company that they only just heard about? The answer is lifestyle and culture. But how do graduates know about these aspects of your business? Via extensive social media investigations.

    At this point, they could either come across your company's Facebook page, LinkedIn page, and maybe Twitter feed. The real magic happens when they come across your Instagram, one of the most informal and visually appealing platforms out there. Depending on what your company does and what your stakeholders have to say (sigh), the sky is the limit on Instagram as you can share behind-the-scenes photos of your office culture, beers after work, and snapshots of events you've put on. Compare that with the tightly managed, stock photo-filled feeds of big firms, your Insta content will be a breath of fresh air that oozes personality.

    If you're looking to go the extra mile, you can create two accounts - one for employee life and achievements to promote a sense of collectiveness amongst the team (that everyone has a login to) and another for general worklife and recruitment purposes.




    2. Use hashtags

    man saying, 'Hash tag, is that two words?'
    A quick search of the hashtag '#hiring' brings up 2.2 million posts on Instagram, many of which accompany simple images of the words ‘We’re Hiring!’. This is a fast and effective way to reach a wide network of graduates quickly, especially those who follow your brand and care about your product or service, because if they're following you on social media then they're already invested in you.

    Grads that follow you Insta account already are called passive candidates. They may not have been looking for a job with you when they first clicked 'follow' but this doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be the perfect addition to your team - they don’t realise that they could be yet. See what traction you get when you post your hiring image and see if any of the likers have been your social superfans in the past. Once you've done this, you can begin interacting with them via likes and comments or a little DM slide.

    Bear in mind that to get the attention of graduates who aren't already following you, you'll have to consider mixing up your hashtags by using different variations (i.e. #hiringnow - 293k, #wearehiring - 297k) to increase the chances of your post being seen and also come up with an eye-catching design. This brings us to our next point.


    3. Focus heavily on job post design
    When it comes to notifying your Instagram community about a job role that's come up, you want to ensure that you create a post that's both appealing and informative. If you want to go with the status quo, you can use the tried and tested method of overlaying the phrase ‘We’re Hiring’ on your brand colours (Canva is a great resource for this sort of thing), or, go down the road less traveled and use an image that stands out from all the others - take John Ball Zoo's post as an example. Now if you're wanting a mix of the two, branded yet unique, BrightBox Studio may be the place to source easy-to-use hiring templates (#sidehustle).


    4. Encourage tagging

    Man tagging a robot and running away
    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. You can even put in place a referral scheme that, for example, offers £100 each to the person that tags a successful candidate and lucky grad themselves once they join. This is bound to boost the number of top grads being tagged. 

    Once you encourage tagging, keep a close eye on the hiring post for potential talent and any people asking questions in the comments. Stay engaged with taggers and comments as this will demonstrate your helpful attitude as a company.
    The takeaway?
    Instagram is ultimately one of the best tools for hiring graduates as it engages them on a playing field that they know well. LinkedIn is useful at times, but many graduates simply don’t check their profile very often. 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 their stomping grounds and fill up their screen with enticing content and recruitment messages.

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


    *Editor's note: This blog was originally published in 2017 and has since been updated. 


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