Social Recruiting: How to Soure Passive Candidates on Twitter

When you think about recruiting via social media, you might not consider Twitter. Twitter isn’t designed for job hunting or talent acquisition, however, with some strategic methods, you can easily use it to find high-quality candidates and get them interested in your offer. Here’s how to do it.

Why use Twitter for sourcing candidates


1. A large active user base

As of 2018, Twitter has 330 million active monthly users - that’s nearly three times more than LinkedIn. Twitter users are generating around 500 million tweets per day. 37% of Twitter users are between ages of 18 and 29, and 25% users are 30-49 years old. This means that approximately 60% of Twitter users belong in the age group of most active job seekers.

Additionally, nearly two-thirds (61%) of job seekers use Twitter in their job search, meaning that Twitter actually has more active candidates than professionally minded LinkedIn. 74% of job-seeking Twitter users look at company profiles, 58% follow companies and recruiters they’re interested in, and 41% apply for tweeted job postings.


2. Easy to contact potential candidates

Compared to Facebook or Linkedin, Twitter is a fairly open platform. It isn’t typically used for networking (like LinkedIn) or staying in touch with family and friends (like Facebook). This may make it seem like Twitter isn’t the best platform for sourcing passive candidates, however, Twitter’s ‘openness’ is actually a very positive thing for recruiters.

Because Twitter is more open, it is very easy to engage and build relationships with active users in your target talent pool. There aren’t any restrictions for contacting people. 

Also, Twitter interactions are generally seen as less intrusive when compared to other forms of communication (emails, phone calls, messages) and even other social networks. This means you can easily “be social” with your target talent pool on a frequent basis – more frequent than would be acceptable through other channels.


3. Less competition

Despite Twitter’s large active user base and the fact that two-thirds of job seekers use Twitter in their job search, only 52% of recruiters say they’ve used Twitter for recruitment purposes. Most companies aren’t actively promoting their job posts on Twitter or using any creative hashtags to help potential candidates find them.

For hiring managers and recruiters - this is great news. With some strategic methods, it is a lot easier for recruiters and hiring managers to make their company more known and get in front of the right talent pool.


How to source passive candidates on Twitter

As with any social media platform, in order to effectively use it for sourcing passive candidates, you need to have a strategy to follow. 

Here are 10 steps that will help you build up your own strategy and get started with recruiting on Twitter.


Step 1: Write a clear bio summary

Before you start tweeting about your job posts, you need to make sure that your personal account and your company’s Twitter accounts are fully set up. This includes having a profile photo, a header image and a descriptive bio that allows potential candidates to get a sense of who you are and what you do.

When you try to engage and/or follow people in your target talent pool, the first thing they will do is check out your profile (and if you promote jobs under your company’s account, then that’s the profile they’ll check out). If the bio doesn’t include a photo or a description, chances are you fail to build trust and to get the candidate to reply to your tweets.

In company bio, add a short sentence and a few hashtags about what the company is offering. Also, a good method is to include a short “We’re hiring” note with a direct link to your Careers page.

For example, check how these innovative companies have set up their Twitter bios:

In your personal bio, include your job title, your interests (both professional and personal), and a few hashtags that will help candidates find you. Also, a little humor always goes a long way in creating a positive first impression.


Step 2: Build your following

The more followers you have, the more useful Twitter becomes in your candidate sourcing. Building a big and loyal follower base is a time-consuming process so the sooner you start, the better.

When growing your (or your company’s) following on Twitter, consistency is the key. There are a few tactics and ‘hacks’ that can help you grow your followers:

Follow more people
Research from Beevolve shows a correlation between the number of people followed and the number of followers. You can find more relevant people and companies to follow through hashtags and advanced search.

Tweet regularly
Check Step #4 for more information about the posting frequency.

Use relevant hashtags
Check Step #5 for more information about hashtags.

Share useful information
A common misconception about tweeting is that you always need to tweet about your own content. In fact, according to Buffer, 80% of Twitter users usually share information about themselves and their product, whereas only 20% re-share relevant tweets from other companies from their Twitter account.

However, Researchers at Rutgers University found that people and companies who share less content about themselves and more content about other relevant topics, tend to get 2x more followers. So, aim to have 50% of your tweets about your company updates and your job roles, and another 50% about other relevant news.

Call yourself an expert
Hubspot data scientist Dan Zarella researched the effect of authority in a Twitter bio. He found that self-professed gurus have an average of 100 more followers than a typical Twitter user. Terms like author, expert, founder, and official can be powerful assets to grow your followers.

Source: Dan Zarrella blog



Post more visual content
Tweets containing visual content receive more likes, shares, and retweets than those without them. Although there’s nothing wrong with solely text-based tweets, images stand out better from the flow of tweets and help you get more re-shares and new followers.

Even something as simple as a colorful blog post preview like this one from our article about Facebook recruiting can do the trick:


Ask for retweets
Another smart way to grow your following is to simply ask your current followers to retweet your content. According to Dan Zarrella’s research, Tweets that include “Please retweet” in their text get 4x more retweets.

Source: HubSpot



Step 3: Create a perfect job Tweet

Once you’ve set up your profiles, it’s time to start tweeting about your job openings.

Twitter has a 280 character count limit, so you’ll have to be a bit creative and strategic with your job posts. There’s no room for long descriptions. You want to give enough information as shortly as possible to make people interested.

Things to include in a job Tweet are:

  • Job title
  • Link to apply
  • Relevant hashtags (such as job location, job field, skills)
  • Brief job description (or the key advantage of the role)
  • Application deadline
  • Job location
  • Skills you’re looking for

It is difficult to fit all this information into the 280 character limits. You can ‘hack’ this problem by adding a photo that includes some parts of the information, or the application link preview that includes, for example, a brief job description.

As far as the visuals go, use whatever makes your Tweet stand out and spark interest. GIFs, videos, team photos, colorful graphics - get creative!



Step 4: Tweet frequently, but don’t spam

Tweeting about your job opening only once is definitely not enough. LocalVox recommends tweeting a maximum of five tweets per day, Quick Sprout found that 5–20 times every day is the best option. Neil Patel suggests tweet frequency should be tied to your goals. If you want maximum engagement per tweet, aim for 1-5 tweets per day. However, if you want more total responses to your tweets overall, 50 tweets or more are acceptable.

Social media analytics company Beevolve analyzed 36 million Twitter profiles and 28 billion tweets to find the correlation between tweet frequency and twitter followers. The results showed that those who tweet more have the most followers. Specifically:

  • A Twitter user who has sent 1 to 1,000 tweets has an average of 51 to 100 followers

  • Users who have tweeted more than 10,000 times are followed on average by 1,000 to 5000 users

  • It’s estimated that a person with more than 15,000 tweets has between 100,001 to 1 million followers.

Source: Beevolve


In our experience, posting around 3-5 tweets per day is the sweet spot. People might not see your tweet the first time, so posting several tweets about an opening helps you reach more people.

However, remember that not all your tweets should be about job openings. Twitter is a social network, not a job board, so mix it up. Share your job opening once a day, and other tweets 2-3 times a day. Also, don’t use the same exact text each time you tweet about a job opening. Use multiple formats to keep people interested.

PS! If you’re using Hundred5 pre-hiring software for attracting, screening and filtering out top candidates, sharing your job posts on Twitter is just a single click away. Simply head over to “Share” page and tweet about your new job opening directly from there.



Step 5: Use the right hashtags

Using the right hashtags is a key part of Twitter recruiting. They make your tweets more searchable, allow you to reach potential candidates beyond your followers, and become a known name in your niche field.

There are three basic types of hashtags that you should use in your job tweets - job keywords, job location, and hiring related hashtags.


  • Job keyword hashtags: These include hashtags that are relevant to the field and job skills that you’re looking for. For example, if I’m hiring a Digital Marketing Manager for a B2B SaaS company, I might include hashtags such as #SaaS #B2B #MarketingJobs, #marketer, #DigitalMarketing, #SocialMediaMarketing etc.

  • Location hashtags: These hashtags help you alert people who are looking for jobs in a certain area. If the Digital Marketing Manager role that I’m hiring for is located in New York City, I would use hashtags such as #NYC, #NewYork, #NewYorkJobs, #NY.

  • Hiring related hashtags: These hashtags help you reach candidates who are actively looking for jobs via Twitter. Use a combination of the most common hashtags such as #hiring, #hiringnow, #HiringPost, #jobs, #jobpost, #jobpostings, #jobposters etc.

However, don’t overuse hashtags. According to Buffer’s research, when you use more than two hashtags, your engagement actually drops by an average of 17%. Also, Tweets with one or more hashtag are 55 percent more likely to be retweeted.

Source: Buffer


Hashtag do’s:

  • Conduct keyword research to create hashtags that earn reach

  • Mix branded and career-related hashtags in your posts

  • Use hashtags that are relevant to your company or the position you’re advertising

  • Use acronyms if your hashtag is too long

Hashtag do not’s:

  • Get too long or too clever

  • Use more hashtags than words

  • Hashtag everything

  • Use a hashtag without understanding what it’s used for

  • Forget to proofread your hashtag for alternate meanings


Tip: If you don’t know which hashtags to add, use a hashtag generator tools such as All Hashtag, SeekMetric, or Hashtagify.

Source: Seekmetrics


Step 6: Find passive candidates via Advanced Search

Instead of using a simple sourcing search, you can use Twitter advanced search feature. It allows you to create complex keyword searches that are the most relevant for the candidates you are searching for. This way you can find candidates on Twitter by multiple criteria like location, keywords, languages, and hashtags.

You can then filter your search results by accounts, tweets, videos, photos and news. Twitter advanced search is also helpful when you want to track specific tweets from a passive candidate and use them to craft a personalized message about your job opportunity.



Step 7: Use the boolean search

In addition to Twitter Advanced Search, you can also get creative with the boolean search. It is best to start with a simple query and add more search criteria on top as you go.


  1. Start with an exact search: Enter what you are looking for in quotation marks - Putting a phrase inside quotation marks makes Twitter search for a phrase as a chunk. Example: “frontend developer”

  2. Add an alternative search: You can do this by using OR between term. This is a great one for looking for Tweets about events or topics that can be described by more than one word. Example: “frontend developer” OR “engineer”

  3. Add an additional search term: If you have multiple search requirements you can look up people who have both qualities using AND between terms. Note that Twitter, like Google, automatically adds this search parameter in between each word you search in a phrase, (unless it is put in quotation marks as mentioned below). This is one of the main reasons that people get bad results with Twitter search: they don’t understand the difference between searching by words or phrases. Example: “Java” AND “NodeJS”.

  4. Exclude certain elements: You can do this by using the minus signs before adding a word to the search. This one is really important if you want to search a spammy topic. Example: “software developer” -android

  5. View all tweets addressed to a certain user: You can do this by typing in to:username. PS! You don’t need to include the “@” symbol when performing this search.

  6. View all tweets sent from a certain user: You can do this by typing from:username.

  7. Search for tweets near or in a particular location: Type in near:location, or near:location within:5mi

  8. Search for tweets between two dates: Type in since: 2014/05/02 until:2015:09/28.

  9. Search for all tweets that contain links: Type in the term you are looking for links of followed by “filter:links. Example: “social media marketing” filter:links

  10. Find specific content: Enter the term you are looking for plus the source.
    Example: “social media marketing” source:Instagram


Step 8: Engage with potential candidates

Once you’ve find potential passive candidates who might be interested in your job opportunities, is it important to build relationships with them and let them know that you’re hiring. There are a few different ways to go about it:

Custom lists
Twitter lets you create customized lists of people (both private and public lists). This allows you filter your followers, and only share with them the content they might be interested in.

For example, you can create lists around particular job roles that you’re hiring for, and populate it with accounts you think fit into that category. You could also create a private list of candidates who you already have a previous connection with, and share your job posts only with them.

To create lists, head to Profile > Lists:

Engagement
Whenever someone likes, shares or comments on your job opening tweet, act on it! Thank them for their retweet, reply to their comments, follow them back. A good tip is to automate some of this process through pre-built Zapier integrations for Twitter

For example, you can automatically send tweets to new followers, build a Twitter list from Twitter search results, add new Twitter followers to a list, or Tweet a celebratory GIF from GIPHY when you get a new Twitter follower.

Direct messages
Once you’ve found a passive candidate who might be suitable for the job, you can let them know about your interesting job opportunity via a direct message. Instead of asking them to send their CV and cover letter, a good tactic is to get their attention with a quick and engaging challenge.

For example, Hundred5 - a pre-hiring tool that helps you attract and screen job candidates with quick and engaging skills challenges - lets you add an automatic gift-sending option to your hiring process. This method can be used for getting the attention of passive candidates.


Step 9: Promote job tweets via Twitter Ads

If you see that your job tweets get a lot of traction, you could try paid Twitter ads to reach an even wider audience. There are 3 types of promoted Twitter ads to choose from:

  • Promoted Accounts - this is best if you want to boost your company’s follower counts. This type of ad places your Twitter accounr in front of your target audience’s “Who to Follow” sections.

  • Promoted Trends - this is best if you’re using a branded company hashtag for recruiting, and you want more people to follow tweets with that hashtag. This type of ad is most useful for big businesses.

  • Promoted Tweets - this is when you want to promote specific job tweets. The goal of these ads is to drive clicks that translate into more re-shares and, ultimately, into more job applicants.

Setting up an Ad Campaign on Twitter is very similar to Facebook Advertising setup. To begin the process of building out a campaign, check out the Twitter ads page.

Choose the objective for your campaign
Your selected objective decides how your tweet’s performance will be measured and how the pricing of your ad is determined. For example, if your goal is to reach more passive candidates, getting them to your job application page, and getting them to actually click on “Apply now” button, choose the “Website clicks and conversions” option.


Set up your campaign criteria
Next, you’ll need to name your campaign, set up your budget and decide the time parameters for your ad.


Set up your promoted tweet
Choose which tweet you want to promote - it can be an existing tweet or a completely new one. You also have the option to decide where your tweet will show up throughout Twitter and what best categorizes it.

Define your target audience
Set up your target audiene based on keywords, behaviors, interests and age. The audience summary bar on the righthand side of the screen helps indicate whether or not your audience is too broad.


Set your bid
After setting your budget, you can choose to have your ads run automatically based on Twitter’s algorithm (Automatic bid), run based on an average cost per bid (Target cost) or pay for maximum visibility (Maximum bid). If you’re just starting out with Twitter Ads, it’s best to keep things simple and go with the Automatic bid.


After that you’ll sent to confirmation page where you can start your Ad Campaign.


Step 10: Retarget your passive talent pool

Retargeting allows you to keep your ads in front of passive candidates who have shown interest to your job opportunities before, but haven’t yet applied to jobs.

For example, passive candidate sees your job tweet and clicks on it. However, once he lands to your Careers page, he doesn’t apply. He may not have the time to do it at the moment, or the job opportunity may not be 100% suitable for him. Whatever’s the reason, you probably want to get him back to your site, because you know that he has shown some interest in your offer.

That’s where remakerting ads come in. Here’s how to set them up on Twitter:

Create a conversion pixel
To remarket on Twitter, you need to connect your Twitter ad with your website so Twitter can tell who has and hasn’t visited your site. That way your ad is sure to be shown to the right audience.

For this, log into ads.twitter.com, click “Tools” and then “Conversion Tracking.” From there, click on “Create your first website tag” to make a new pixel.


Label the pixel as “Remarketing” and set the conversion type to “Site Visit.” Leave the box checked for “Create a tailored audience”  - this will give us the ability to remarket.


Once you’ve entered the information, click “Save tag and generate code snippet.” From there you’ll be presented with the pixel HTML code, which you should place on your Careers page.

Create re-marketing campaign
You’ll need to wait a few days until you have gathered a sufficient number of passive candidates to launch as an audience. Once you have a list of candidates you want to retarget, it’s time to create a re-marketing campaign.

On the “Campaign” page, click the “Create new campaign” button and choose the objective of your campaign.

Name your campaign
Give your campaign a name, then choose the remarketing conversion pixel that you had created earlier as the key conversion action. Make sure that its status is set to “verified,” otherwise you might launch a campaign that has no tracking.

From that point onward, the campaign setup works exactly the same way as the promoted Tweet campaign setup detailed in the previous step of this article. You finalize your targeting, set your budget, create your promoted tweet, and launch the re-marketing campaign.


Useful tools for recruiting on Twitter

Hundred5 - skills-based pre-hiring tool that helps you attract, screen and filter out the best candidates using short skills tests. These engaging skills challenges help you attract passive candidates on Twitter because you’re not asking candidates to send their CVs. Instead, you challenge them to find out their skills level and a potential job fit.

Rite tag - Hashtag recommender. Plug in a hashtag and see feedback on the tag’s reach and popularity as well as suggestions for some alternatives to try.

Hashtagify.me - Complete analytics into any hashtag. Enter a hashtag to discover related tags, recent conversations, usage patterns, and influencers.

Pablo - Create beautiful visuals for your tweets. Quickly share a quote or build an image with beautiful backgrounds.

Buffer - Easily schedule your tweets. Fill a queue of tweets, analyze their performance, and find new, hand-picked stories to share.

Tweriod - Find the best times to tweet. Tweriod analyzes the tweets you send and your followers’s tweets to find the optimal time for engagement.



Key Takeaways


  • Put time into recruiting passive candidates on Twitter if you know that this is the channel where your potential candidates might be hanging out

  • Grow your following. The more followers you or your company has, the more passive candidates you can reach with your tweets.

  • Draft up a good tweet that encourages people to re-share it. Use hashtags in your tweets and share them often.

  • Bo geyond basic Twitter search. Use Advanced boolean search to find the right candidates to approach through Direct Messages.

  • If your job tweets get a lot of traction, try out paid promotion. You can even use it to retarget passie candidates who have visited your Careers page but didn’t send their applications.



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