How to Get Started on Instagram as a University Recruiter

Ready, set,snap!

Looking for a way to build your employer brand, share your unique company culture, and get Gen Y and Gen Z students excited about working for your company? Photo-centric app Instagram helps convey your story in a format that resonates with today’s high school and college students (and tomorrow’s new hires).

It can seem a little intimidating at first, but Instagram is a snap (see what I did there?) once you get the hang of it. Here’s your quick guide to getting started on this photo-sharing app.

In order to do all the things we’re talking about in today’s post, you’ll need the following:

  • A cell phone with the Instagram app downloaded onto it
  • The email address you’d like to link to the account
  • A couple of photos in your phone’s gallery


Step 1: Identify and click on the app

Locate the Instagram app icon (it looks like a cute square camera) and click on it to open the app on your phone.

1. Identifying and Click on the App

Step 2: Log in or sign up

If this is your very first time using Instagram, you’ll need to create an account. To do this, you’ll need to have an email address and an idea for a username. This can be your company’s name (if you don’t already have a company-wide account), or your company name plus “Edu,” “U,” “College,” “Careers,” or whatever you think makes the most sense.

If you’re logging in to an existing account, you’ll just need your username and password.

Does your company or team already have a Facebook page? If so, you can link your Instagram account to the Facebook page so you’re able to post to both Instagram and Facebook at the same time if you’d like. Learn more about how to connect your accounts in this post.

2. Log in or Sign up

Step 3: Understand your profile

Instagram has a nice, simple interface, so we’ll quickly go through some of the key features, starting with your profile.

Your profile is the place where you get to share who you are. Choose a profile image (probably something that includes your company logo… or kittens. It’s your call.) Write a few sentences to describe your company or team. Don’t forget to link to your website! (This is really important, so we’ll remind you about it later.)

This is also the place where you can see all of your previous posts. You can choose to scroll through all your posts as a grid or as a feed (the way it looks when you scroll vertically through photos one at a time).

3. Understand Your Profile (1)

On the bottom of the page, you can see a row of gray icons that look like a house, a magnifying glass, a camera, a thought bubble with a heart in it, and a person.

Click on the magnifying glass to explore people and photos (this is especially useful when you’re first starting out and looking for people to follow or if you’re curious about what else is happening on Instagram). For instance, when I clicked on that button, it suggested that I follow Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, and Hamilton the Hipster Cat. Infer from that what you will.

The image of a person is what you click on if you’d like to view your own profile. The screenshot above shows AfterCollege’s profile page. You can see how we included our company description and the url for our blog so people can learn more about us if they want.

11. Check out your photo explore feed

The explore photos feed.

The explore people feed.

The explore people feed.

The camera icon allows you to take and post photos (more on that in a moment). The speech bubble with a heart shows notifications (you’ll get these if someone liked or commented on your photos). You can click on the notifications tab to see what the people you follow are doing (click on “Following”) or to see which of your posts are getting liked and commented on (click “You”).

15. Your Notifications

Decide you want to update your image or rewrite your profile description? No problem. Any time you’d like to make a change to your profile, just click on the three dots on the upper right corner of the screen.

3.5 Getting to the Settings to Set Up Your Profile and Account

This is the screen you’ll be taken to once you click on those three circles.

4. Set up your profile

Keep scrolling down the page for more options for your settings.

5. Learn about Instagram

Now that your profile is all gorgeous, let’s take a look at how to actually use Instagram to share photos.


Step 1: Post a photo

Now we get to the fun stuff! This is what to do if you’d like to upload a photo and share it with your followers.

Start by clicking on the photo icon.

7. How to Post

Step 2: Choose to either select a photo you’ve already taken or take a photo within the Instagram app

8. Choose to either select photo from gallery or take a photo with current camera

Step 3: Select which part of your gallery to grab photo or video from

If you already have your photos organized into groups, this can make finding the photo you want to share a little easier. Otherwise, you can just scroll through your gallery until you get to the photo you want to include.

9.5 Select which part of your gallery to grab photo or video from

Step 4: Select a photo from photo gallery

9. Select a photo from Photo Gallery

Step 5: Open it and choose a filter if you want to use one

One of the best parts about Instagram—you can instantly make a photo look better by choosing one of the many filters. Just scroll along horizontally until you see one that creates the effect you like. Or, if you’d prefer, you can skip the filter (just press the blue arrow at the top of the page) and leave your image au naturel. In that case, you earn the right to use the hashtag #nofilter. More on hashtags in a minute.

10. Open it and choose a filter if you would like to

Step 6: Decide what info to include and who you want to share the photo with

The next part is kind of like the menu at Starbucks—it’s highly customizable, not all the steps are required, and you can do them in the order that works best for you.

You do need to decide whether you’re sharing the image with all your followers (do this by clicking on “Followers”) or only with specific people (by clicking on “Direct”).

You can also choose to add the image to your photo map or tag people. We’ll look at each of those steps in more detail below.

10.125 After Choosing a Filter Start SharingStep 7: Select a location

If you’d like to, you can add a photo to your photo map. This helps people to see where the photo was taken and makes it easy for people to find other photos that were taken in the same place. You can also add a little humor and create your own locations. For example, Kellen named our lunch area the “AfterCollege food court” and our desk area the “AfterCollege dugout.”

Here’s how you do this: After clicking on the “Add to photo map,” button, you can search for the location or create your own. Just type in the name or click on the one that you’d like to use.

10.5 Search For Location

Step 8: Tag people

This step is also optional. Have a person in the image you want to tag? If so, you can click on the “Tag people” button. It will take you to your image, and you can then click on the part of the image where the person appears.

10.250 Click On Photo of Person You Want to Tag

You then search for the user you want to tag by starting to type their name into the search box. Just be aware that only the names of people you follow will appear here.

10.375 Find And Tag a User

Step 9: Write your caption

You don’t have to write a caption for your photo—Instagram will allow you to post an image without one—but it’s a good idea to add a little context (and some hashtags) so people know what they’re looking at.

In this case, we’re sharing an image from a blog post about getting a doctor of physical therapy degree, so we explain that you can find the link in our bio. Remember when I told you that it’s important to include your website url in your profile? This is why—links within a caption won’t work. So use your caption to remind people to check your bio for the link, and include a few relevant hashtags. In this case, we used ones like #careers, #health, and #PhysicalTherapy.

10.75 Writing Your Caption

Step 10: Share on other social media platforms (if you want)

Now that you’re done tagging the location and people in the photo and writing your caption, you’re ready to share it!

If you’d like, you can sync up your Instagram account to other social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Then when you get to this stage, you simply click on the accounts you’d like to share the image on, and Instagram will take care of posting your image to all these networks. If you simply want to share the image on Instagram, feel free to skip this step.

10.625 Share On Social Media Platforms Other Than Instagram

Step 11: Share on Instagram

Just click on the check mark on the upper right side of the screen. And that’s it! You’ve officially shared your Instagram post.

10.875 Clicking To Share

This is what it should look like once it’s up:

11 (oops there's two 11's now) Voilá Your Photo is Posted!

Now that you know how to upload your own photos, let’s take a look at how to find other people to follow.


Step 1: Search for users by name

One great way to get started is by finding other people to follow. If you already know someone’s name, you can type it into the search box to look for them.

14. Search for Users by name

Step 2: Follow other people

Let’s say you’ve found someone you’d like to follow. Simply click on the “Follow” button on their profile and, voilà, you’re following them!

12. How to follow people

Step 3: Notice hashtags similar people are using

Hashtags are a way to label your content. They make it easier for people to find you, and they also help you find other people who post about similar topics. Once you’ve started following people, be sure to pay attention to which hashtags they’re using. Are there any that you could include in your posts as well?

For example, this post by FastCompany includes hashtags like #SiliconValley and #WomenInTech. What are some hashtags that are relevant to your industry?

13. Notice hashtags similar people are using

Step 4: Search for twentysomething users by name or hashtag

If you’re looking for more people to follow, you can search by both username and hashtag. This makes it easy to locate your friends/colleagues, as well as people who tend to post about the topics you’re interested in (or topics you think your audience would be interested in).

14.5 Searching for Twentysomething Users By Name or Hashtag

And that, in a nutshell, is how to use Instagram. Pretty fun, right?

The next step: Once you get started on Instagram, you might wonder how often you should be posting. This recent post by Buffer suggests 1.5 times per day, and mentions that there’s probably no drop-off in engagement if you post more, as long as you can keep up the same rate. They do mention that this rate is for major brands, so if you’re on a small team, this may not be feasible. Experiment with different posting schedules and find what works best for you. You may find it useful to begin building up a library of images that you can draw on whenever you need to, or to rotate Instagram duties with other people on your team.

And don’t forget to check out what other university recruiting teams are doing on Instagram to get some good ideas for your post content and frequency.

Let us know how it goes, and be sure to share your handle so we can follow you, too!

P.S. This post was written in response to a question we received during the “Social Media Survival Kit for University Recruiters” webinar. Do you have any other questions about social media and/or university recruiting? Let us know and we’ll address them in a future post.


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