An Overview of Using Facebook and Instagram Ads for Recruiting

In a great economy, it isn't enough to post a job on Indeed, ZipRecruiter or Craigslist and then sit back and hope for enough applicants. Hiring is becoming more and more like sales and marketing - you have to find the people who are great fits, then win them over by showing them what's great about your job. Online ads let you get in front of the thousands of people who might be good fits for your job but aren't spending their time on job boards.  

Using Facebook and Instagram for Recruiting

There are three key ways to use Facebook and Instagram for hiring: 

  • Posting Jobs: This links your job to your company's Facebook page and lets you start getting applicants directly on Facebook. This is an additional source of applicants, but it does limit your audience to people who are either already on your company's Facebook page (likely not many people) or people treating Facebook like a job board and proactively looking at jobs there.
  • Promoting Jobs: This feature takes that existing job post and ensures it ends up in front of more job seekers. 
  • Facebook and Instagram Advertising. While posting jobs to Facebook and potentially promoting them is a lot like boosting a job on Indeed, the other way to use Facebook and Instagram is to actually run advertisements. This is kind of like you're own little Super Bowl commercial for your job - your advertisement appears in front of people who may not be job seekers or actively looking for a job, but might be interested in your job - and who are similar to all the people we've seen show interest for similar jobs. 

This post focuses on Facebook and Instagram advertising side of things. Why?  According to studies, 71% of people are willing to switch jobs - but most of those people aren't actively looking at job posts or on job boards. Ads get you in front of people while they're going about other things. Furthermore, the great advantage of Facebook and Instagram is that you can get in front of the right people - just people in your area and just people who might be good fits.  Finally, it's also an inexpensive way of getting in front of thousands of people quickly. 

In the guide below, we'll talk through the basics of getting started with running on Facebook and Instagram for your job. While this overview walks through all the details in running your ads manually, you can also use a tool like The Hiring Engine to automatically run ads or you can hire a digital marketing firm to do the work for you.  

The Basics of Facebook/Instagram Ads for Hiring

When you run an ad on Facebook or Instagram, people are going to see it in their newsfeed. It'll look something like this: 

The whole process of running ads is confusing and somewhat intimidating, and there are people who have whole careers setting up these ads. We'll walk through the basics to demystify the process.  

There are a few basic concepts within Facebook and Instagram ads that are worth understanding:

  • Campaign: This is the overall set of ads you'll be running. We recommend that you create one campaign per job that you are hiring for. This setup keeps keeps creating ads simple, and as you get more sophisticated it makes trying new things easier.  One key thing to note is that because your advertisement is for a job, you'll need to mark it as a special ad category here.  This special ad category involves a few other restrictions - the types of audiences you can show the ad to, the locations you can show it to, and more. 
  • Ad Set: This is where you setup who sees the job ad and where they see it. For ads run through The Hiring Engine, we'll automatically show the ad to people similar to those we've seen get hired and do well in jobs like your job and within a certain radius of your office.  If you're doing it manually, you can limit this based on interests or current jobs - for example, you can indicate that this ad should only be shown to people interested in cars and trucks for driving jobs. Finally, you get to choose whether these ads are shown on Facebook, on Instagram, or around the internet with their partners. 
  • Ad: This is the advertisement that people actually see for your job.  It needs to include an image or video, text describing the job and pitching the opportunity, and a link so that when someone clicks on it they can apply.  

Once ads are running, billing is complicated and technically an auction - but the upshot is that from what we've seen you'll end up paying 1-3 cents per person who sees the ad.  Your cost per application is going to vary significantly based on two key factors:

  1. How competitive the job market is in your area. In some areas, it's just harder to find people to apply. 
  2. How many people there are with the skills to do your job.  For very highly skilled jobs, there may just be a limited number of people in your area who could do the job - meaning it'll be more expensive to find those that could do it. Alternatively, if your job is much less desirable than other jobs (for example, lower paying or physically challenging jobs like moving), we'll see that it's more expensive to get good applicants (since the best people go for other jobs).  

Building the Ads for your Job

Within the ad, you'll need a picture or video, a short pitch for what the job is and why people want it, and a link to an online application for the job.  

  • For the picture or video, you can either use something you already have, or you can use a website like Pexels for stock pictures you are free to use. We've found that the best pictures either show someone doing the actual job (or a similar job) or highlight something unique about your company (your equipment, etc). We've seen that videos often do even better than images if you already have them. The key thing is that people respond best when they get a sense of what they'll actually be doing each day.  
  • For the short pitch, again, we've seen that the clearer you are about what the job is and why people should want it, the more likely they are to click on your ad. Your goal isn't to make everyone click on your ad who sees it - it's to make sure that the people who really want your job click on it. 
  • For the link to the application, the key thing is making sure the link goes to an application that looks really good on a phone and is easy to use. Applications that are really long or involve a ton of typing often mean that people on phones give up before finishing the application.  

Next Steps

Now that you have some of the basics down, to get started with Facebook and Instagram ads, you have a few options: 

  1. Set them up manually. As you do this, you can leverage Facebook's guides to get started. These aren't tailored around recruiting, but give you a good sense of actually getting all this setup.  
  2. Hire a digital marketing agency. As the job market has gotten more competitive, many of the companies that used to run ads helping you find customers are now offering to run ads helping you get more applicants. These agencies tend to provide a full service offering and to be fairly expensive.  
  3. Use software. The Hiring Engine fully automates running online ads for jobs. You just say how much you want to spend and everything is setup automatically, and then shown to the exact right set of people based on the thousands of people we've helped hire for similar jobs.