How to Source, Hire, & Recruit Candidates on Instagram

How Recruiters Can Use Instragram to Source Candidates

Instragram.  It’s just for snapping, sharing and “love”-ing pictures, right?  Not anymore.The photo-sharing platform has done more than turn us all into photo-filtering addicts – its recent upgrade opened the door for recruiters to really hone in on potential candidates.

e-Recruiting the Photo Sharing Way

Instragram is a social media platform newcomer and now major playing among social media giants.  Earlier this year, the photo sharing platform surpassed 80 million registered users.  The mobile photo sharing tool was purchased by Facebook in early 2012 and is one of the simplest and yet fasting growing social networks since it launched in October 2010.  Users simply download an application to their mobile phone, click and share photos.  Photo-editing filters and boarders transform ordinary snapshots into beautiful and fun photographic works of art.  Best of all, sharing a photo via Instagram gives the user options of also sharing it to Twitter, Facebook, email and Flickr.

Instragram is primarily a mobile device; sharing and other forms of engagement are only available through the mobile application.  However, Desktop users can access and view photos.  This tool is a great one for those looking at engaging a different audience through employer branding specifically photos, but it can also be used as a fantastic candidate sourcing tool.

How is Instragram Different from Other Social Recruiting Platforms?

For me, Instagram details my life through the power of a picture. I have shared nearly 700 photos through Instagram, from coffee art and decedent dishes to snapshots of my pre-school daughter’s sassy poses or silly pets.   And, I’m not alone in my love of this social platform. Over the past 24 months, Instagram users like me have uploaded over 400 million photos.

How Can Recruiters Use Instragram to Source Candidates?

Companies like Starbucks have successfully used Instagram to hire candidates.  The platform has been an important piece of their overall employer branding efforts.  Through the recent upgrade, Instagram now offers the ability to “explore,” source, and search the application for both users and via hashtags just like Twitter. The mobile platform means recruiters must take to their iphone and android devices instead of their computer.

Using the search functionality is simple; recruiters can enter a hashtag or keyword like ‘#storemanager.’ Instagram not only offers the results of that hashtag but of other like and recommended hashtags like ‘#storemanagers’ and ‘#storemanagerlife.’


By selecting ‘#storemanager’ on my phone, 453 different photos are displayed. If I click on the bottom left photo, I’m taken to an store manager from American Eagle instagram, @bburford’s account. From his account, I can see he is planning his store’s holiday staffing – according to him – is a store manager for American Eagle.  By reviewing his Twitter account which is included in his bio I can see he is West Virginia Graduate who has his Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications.  More importantly, his Twitter links directly to his LinkedIn profile. 

Ben’s profile would be of particular interest to retailers like Gap, Nordstrom, and even Macy which is hiring an additional 80,000 temporary workers this holiday season.  Depending on the store’s volume he could be a good fit for a store manager or assistant manager position at a larger big box speciality retailer.  

Mobile recruiting features on Instagram offers have turned the platform – not only into an employer branding tool – into a virtually untapped resource for recruiters.   I anticipate this platform will continue to evolve as it integrates more with Facebook, desktop searching and connection features in 2013.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Kes Thygesen says

    Interesting tips. I’m excited to see this platform evolve too. Similar to other social media tools, this one does have it’s flaws in design for recruiters. But it does have potential too, as you mentioned. I think adding Instagram to the SM recruiter toolbox will definitely have it’s benefits, especially if you want to SEE what a candidate is like. But it could also leave you empty-handed!

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says


      There are certain information about job seekers that should not be factored into the hiring equation by recruiters and hiring managers. This is why I am a fan of separating the sourcing process from the actual recruiting process. The sourcer looks for qualified candidates and forwards on their resumes and applications to hiring managers who have no knowledge of the information from social profiles. A process like this that is separates protects both the job seeker and employer.

      Hiring managers are already googling job prospects which is why social recruiting is such a popular topic. We can’t avoid it, but employers can create a standard process in how they search, recruit, and engage job seekers. Thanks for your question and comment.


      • Mary Wright says

        Good reply. Screeners and scrubbers are necessary. Decision makers can, actually, have TMI. There is just some information they aren’t allowed to use.

  2. @Recruitbuddyuk says

    Interesting article, social recruiting is part of the everyday hiring process. A great article, would love to share out social recruitment software to make social recruitment easier and cost effective. Check out our blog @recruitbuddyuk

  3. Arron Daniels (@arron_daniels) says

    Hey Jessica!

    Great post! Anything that a has a profile is a target for sourcers. Another place to find and be found.

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says


      Thanks for the comment. You are right. Social media is internet gold for sourcers, and I love it. While Instagram has opened up profiles via url (no longer just mobile), there is still not a means to search and source yet at the moment. I’ll let you know if I find out when that changes.



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