Social Media for Recruitment - Instagram

#Insta-Recruiting? Please Stop

 dans Hiring advice

Recruiters, you’ve heard this argument before: use social media in all its forms to modernize your recruitment strategies.  I’ve read countless blog posts, Twitter-chat conversations, online articles, and heard live talks from “experts” who preach the continuous utilization of social media for recruitment purposes.  Indeed, it’s 2015, and everyone everywhere is online – all the time, always.  In the context of our contemporary digital world, social media is not a niche form of media anymore – it’s become, almost exclusively, the only form of media that actually matters. Insane stuff, isn’t it?

But is Instagram truly an effective tool for recruitment?

Absolutely not.  The truth is, recruitment is often misconstrued with employer branding – a passive form of recruitment which banks on image.  Companies hope to attract good people to work for them once these people see how interesting and cool their company portrays itself.  Instagram is extremely effective in bringing the inner-workings of a company into the hands (quite literally) of anyone – inner-workings which for so long were difficult to access prior.  GE exists as a good example: a manufacturing/engineering company which is largely too complex and technical to sum up in a classic written job ad.  The ad, should it be written, would be unquestionably overly-technical, hard to envision, and just plain boring.  But when GE posts an image of the incredible new engines they are working on for the Air Force, the company’s sense of modernity, high level of technology, and dedication to a culture of innovation become real, tangible, and easy to experience – all in an image.  As a branding strategy, it’s brilliant; but as a proactive recruitment strategy, it falls short: GE is forced to sit back and hope that anyone who might find high-technology, innovation, and complex jet engines interesting might check out their Instagram page and consider applying to work for them.  It’s great stuff, but it’s passive, and banks on their branding to attract quality candidates.

Recruitment is proactive, not passive.

But can we use Instagram as a proactive tool? 

No, we really can’t.  An incredible amount of personal profiles are private/blocked and can’t be accessed by the general public; many people go under pseudonyms of some kind and can’t even be entirely identified; and ultimately, most people wouldn’t want to be recruited by Instagram either way.  But why not?  The reason is simple: Instagram and active recruitment just do not mix.  People have no problem being recruited through LinkedIn, because LinkedIn itself brands itself as a “professional” social networking platform.  Instagram is, in truth, branded for personal pictures, experiences, and one’s own life captured in a photo album.  If someone wants to post a thousand pictures of their dog (i.e. me), I wouldn’t want a potential employer to somehow judge or evaluate me on those posts of my dog.  Instagram just doesn’t showcase my skills, my abilities, my train of thought effectively.  It does, however, show pictures of my beautiful dog Penny Lane extremely effectively.

my dog Penny Lane

Bloggers, online writers, business “experts” are quick to talk about social media as a recruitment strategy, but the truth is that Instagram just doesn’t work as an active recruitment tool.  Next time you’re at a recruitment conference (and you somehow haven’t fallen asleep yet) and someone who specializes in “digital communications” and “next-gen tech” claims you should use Instagram to recruit candidates, I’d ask them if they’ve ever used a vegan kombucha smoothie to satisfy a vicious craving for chocolate.  The two fulfill different purposes, and even though something is popular or on trend in one sphere (Instagram/vegan smoothies), nothing satisfies a craving for chocolate like…well, chocolate (LinkedIn/active recruitment).

Want to brand your company and hope candidates come to you?  Awesome – good thinking; head to Instagram!  Want to go actively seek out candidates for your company?  Awesome – good thinking; head to LinkedIn, pick up your phone, and recruit them.  What is displayed on Instagram is just not enough to actively recruit someone for work, nor should it be – unless you’re recruiting my dog for a modeling gig (note: she is definitely available).

Stefano Faustini, Headhunter (Montreal & Vancouver)


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