Last week's post about recruiting on Twitter touched on something that's a mystery to many social media newcomers -- the hashtag. Understanding hashtags is great opportunity for anybody to raise their profile on social media, but did you know they can also help you get more applicants for your job postings?What is a hashtag? Before we go into too much detail, let's make sure we're all on the same page. Hashtags are the number sign (#) that you see at the start of words in people's social media posts. They're used to tag posts with keywords so social networks can effectively organize posts. How do hashtags work? When you come across a hashtag, it is usually also a link. By clicking that link, you're brought to a page that aggregates all posts with that hashtag. If there's a subject you want to know more about, you can simply search out that hashtag to find all posts related to that topic. This is especially useful because the list of posts will include more than just your network -- it opens your search up to the entire world's posts (provided their privacy settings allow it). It also means that when you use hashtags, you open up your post to more than just your followers. While searching is the more popular function for a hashtag, they offer additional benefits. Some people use them to create a discussion or chat. Many networks also use hashtags to show what's "trending". So how can you use the hashtag when sharing jobs? When you share a job on social media, it's always a great idea to include hashtags, but you need to do it properly. Here are eight things you should keep in mind:
Find the most popular hashtags that will get attention. Search through your network, your competitors' posts and industry posts to find out which keywords are most prevalent. The image on the right has a few common hashtags used for job postings to help get you started.
Think about potential applicants. Take a look at your candidates' posts to see what they're commonly interested in. For example, job seekers may be trying to improve their resume, so #resumeAdvice may get their attention.
Use a hashtag generator. There are also plenty of tools online that will help you find the right hashtag and show you which ones are most popular.
Limit your hashtags. Possibly the largest pitfall is using too many hashtags. Any more than one or two in a post can come off as spam and have negative effects on your post.
Keep it relevant. Only include hashtags relating to your post so you don't confuse your followers.
Add it to a sentence. You don't need to keep your hashtags at the end of your post, but embed it to your post. For example: If you're looking for a #careerChange then check out this #job.
Creating your own hashtag. Perhaps you'd like to start a conversation, use it for branding, or inject a little humour into your post. Regardless, be sure to follow these guidelines:
Don't use spaces or punctuation -- it won't be picked up properly
Separate words with a capital letter but DontStringTooManyWordsTogether
Spelling is important!
Check the history and meaning of a tag. It would be a branding nightmare if your "new" tag was actually used for a controversial topic.
Know where to hashtag: Hashtags are supported on many networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube. Do your research, understand where they're acceptable and how they're used on each network. For example, hashtags aren't always accepted on Facebook and while they're not supported on LinkedIn, they can still be effective when used appropriately.
Do you use hashtags in your recruiting strategy? If so, what kind of success are you getting? Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below.