How to Source Candidates from Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms but few recruiters leverage it for sourcing candidates. Though you are limited as far as search parameters, its size lends itself to being a huge pool of talent waiting to be found.

According to Statista, “With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram belongs to the most popular social networks worldwide. The social photo sharing app is especially popular in the United States, India, and Brazil, which have over 130 million, 100 and 91 million Instagram users each. In the United States, the number of Instagram users is projected to surpass 130 million MAU (monthly active users) in 2022.”

Another interesting fact:  over two thirds of total Instagram audiences were aged 34 years and younger.

Sourcing Instagram Bios

Most people search Instagram by hopping from hashtag to hashtag so it’s not really ideal for sourcing people. If you do, I suggest using the site: search function on Google. Here’s a query for “software developers” AND Boston”.

instagram sourcingSite search works pretty well in this case. To reuse this string just replace the job title and city with your own. Feel free to add in negative keywords (ex. -nursing) to help you filter out certain profiles.

Google search query: “software developer” AND boston


You can send messages (from within the app) to someone even if they don’t follow you.

  1. Tap in the top-right corner or swipe left from anywhere in Feed.
  2. Tap in the top-right corner.
  3. Select people you’d like to send a message to, then tap Next.
  4. Type a message. You can also tap to take and send a disappearing photo or video, or to select a photo or video from your library.
  5. Tap or Send.

If you send a message to someone who doesn’t follow you, it’ll appear as a request in their inbox. If someone allows your message request, your future messages will go directly to their inbox. Since they probably aren’t expecting to hear from a recruiter try looking them up on LinkedIn if you dont want to engage directly on Instagram.

NOTE: Instagram also lets you send photo and video DMs from your PC. Instagram still won’t let you upload posts to your profile from your computer (unless you have a tablet with a rear-mounted camera). But now, you at least can send photo and video as direct messages from your desk using the Windows 10 app.

One other sourcing tip to mention is hashtags. Searching for career related hashtags can also help to uncover hidden talent. Let’s say you were looking for nurses. Check out the hashtag #nursinglife to see real world nurses chronicling their work day.