How Fortune 500 Companies Engage Talent on Twitter

By: on November 23, 2015

When it comes to recruiting talent through Twitter, it seems that many companies aren’t having the success they want. Twitter has over 320 million active users—nearly three times more than LinkedIn—but only 14 percent of recruiters say they have actually made a hire through the platform.

Should recruiters abandon Twitter altogether then? Hardly.

An annual study by the Pew Research Center notes that Twitter is a popular social network for groups that recruiters covet:

  • College graduates and those aged 18 to 29 to fill entry level roles

  • Urbanites that make over $75,000 a year for more senior positions

The opportunity is there. Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) just need to capitalize.

To find out how they can do that, we turned to the recruiting-specific handles of Fortune 500 companies to learn how the most successful companies in the world are using Twitter for recruiting.

Paired with a survey of nearly 200 job seekers, recruiters can learn best practices to effectively engage talent through this medium.

Key Findings

  • Recruiters need to be on Twitter. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of job seekers use Twitter in their search, most commonly to look at company profiles for opportunities (74 percent).

  • Posting job openings often on Twitter is a must. Forty-one percent of job seekers that use Twitter say companies are “ineffective” at posting job openings there frequently.

  • SMB recruiters should mix in other content with their tweets. Besides job openings, tweets from Fortune 500 company recruiting handles also promote company events (4 percent) and highlight the work environment (4 percent).

  • Hashtags are a great way to expand your audience. Ninety-five percent of Fortune 500 recruiting tweets contain hashtags—most commonly with general job-seeking terms (95 percent) or job locations (81 percent).

Two-Thirds of Job Seekers Use Twitter in Their Search

Twitter doesn’t jump out as a go-to job-seeking destination, but our survey respondents say otherwise. When asked if they’ve used Twitter as part of their job search in the past six months, 61 percent say they have, while 39 percent say they haven’t.

“Have You Used Twitter in Your Job Search in the Past Six Months?”

Twitter is used in different ways too: 74 percent of job-seeking Twitter users look at company profiles, 58 percent follow companies and recruiters they’re interested in and 41 percent apply for tweeted job postings.

Most Common Ways Job Seekers Use Twitter

Given that job seekers are inclined to go straight to a company’s profile, companies would be wise to make these profiles appealing to encourage more job seekers to follow them.

According to Adam Heagy, president of Interactive Recruiting Consultants, this means making Twitter profiles “concise and direct” in describing their business and the actions they want potential applicants to take next, such as visiting a careers page.

This is where companies need to decide if they are going to recruit through their primary Twitter handle, or create a separate one for recruiting purposes. Jim Milton, vice president of product marketing for recruiting software platform SmartRecruiters, explains when you might prefer one option over the other:

  • When to use existing handle for recruiting: If you’ve established a brand and a following, and that following is the same demographic as your desired job seeker, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. A good example here would be a trendy retailer looking for cashiers—your customers might be ideal employees.

  • When to create separate handle for recruiting: If an organization’s customers are not also its desired employees, creating a separate Twitter handle for recruiting purposes is ideal. For example, Disney’s customer base of children and families is not its target audience for recruiting—so the company has @Disney to cater to customers, and @TWDCjobs to cater to job seekers.

Disney clearly differentiates its primary and recruiting Twitter profiles

Job Seekers Split On the Effectiveness of Twitter Recruiting Efforts

To understand where recruiters can do better, we asked our Twitter-using job seekers how effectively they think companies are at using the social media site to engage them.

Forty-one percent say that companies are ineffective at posting job openings on Twitter frequently. Thirty-six percent also say that companies are ineffective at responding to direct messages and tweets.

Perceived Effectiveness of Companies’ Twitter Recruiting Efforts

These results show that balance in tweet content is key.

If companies focus too much on marketing themselves and not enough on open positions, interested job seekers may find a job somewhere else. And if companies only post job listings, they’re missing out on what Heagy calls the “social aspect” of engaging job seekers.

Recruiters should also make sure to stay in communication with curious Twitter users. Social media management platforms make it easy to not only respond to all incoming messages, but to track certain words or phrases for proactive outreach on hot leads.

For example, companies eager to fill an engineer position can track all tweets with the words “engineering job” to find any users who tweeted about looking for such a job and respond with a link to their careers page.

Keyword tracking in Hootsuite

Individual recruiters can also use Twitter to build a personal following, market themselves as a trusted resource and gain legitimacy for the clients and companies they work for. Both Milton and Heagy advocate this strategy.

In fact, Heagy says he has amassed over 1,300 followers on his individual account, @ircstaff, through a blended approach of tweeting about job listings and local technology conferences, as well as general posts to “share and educate anyone [who] chooses to follow me on the job and technology marketplace,” he explains.

Fortune 500 Companies Tweet Job Openings Often, Promote Events

To find out more about how companies should be using Twitter, we looked at 50 recruiting-specific handles from Fortune 500 companies. We tracked over 3,800 tweets over a week’s time from these accounts, then pulled a random sample of 200 to analyze further.

What did we learn? Well, for one, Fortune 500 companies tweet out a ton of job openings. A whopping 88 percent of the tweets we analyzed were for job openings. But that’s not all that gets tweeted. Some tweets promote company events (4 percent), market the company’s work environment and job perks (4 percent) or highlight a specific employee (2 percent).

Most Common Subjects of Fortune 500 Recruiting Tweets

Highlighting individual employees is a great way to personalize a business on Twitter. For example, using the #LifeAtATT hashtag, AT&T employees describe their job responsibilities, recommend qualities that candidates should have to succeed and explain some of the reasons they like working there.

Hear why Kyle Bailey loves his #LifeAtATT:

— attjobs (@attJOBS) April 5, 2015

AT&T #LifeAtATT recruiting video

Twitter is also a great medium for alerting followers of upcoming in-person recruiting events, or for live-tweeting company events that prospective job candidates might be interested in, such as conference presentations.

The main takeaway here is that companies should treat Twitter more like a content marketing platform than a job board.

As Milton explains, companies should be using Twitter to keep themselves fresh in the minds of potential talent when they do decide to look for work.

“It’s less about posting a job and hoping for an application today,” Milton says. “It’s more about getting that group of followers, and then using content to engage them over time. The hope is that at some point down the road the timing will be right [and the candidate will actually apply for a job].”

Because Twitter users don’t often make the direct path from follower to applicant, companies can use applicant tracking systems (ATSs) with Twitter integration to track the number of people who actually apply this way. Then, Milton explains, they can easily compare Twitter hires to the number of hires from other recruiting sources.

Sourcing metrics in SmartRecruiters

Almost All Fortune 500 Tweets Have Hashtags

Besides the 140-character limit, Twitter is also famous for the hashtag: a word a phrase preceded by “#” used to group tweets about similar topics together. If you’re not using hashtags in your recruiting tweets, you should. Almost all of the tweets from Fortune 500 recruiting handles use hashtags (95 percent).

Percent of Fortune 500 Recruiting Tweets With Hashtags

Digging deeper, the tweets with hashtags in our sample most commonly use a general job-related term (e.g., #hiring), the location of a job (e.g., #Dallas) or the type of job being highlighted (e.g., #Engineering).

Most Common Fortune 500 Recruiting Tweet Hashtags

Even though only 31 percent of job seekers say they use Twitter to search for job-related hashtags (per our findings above), companies are wise to include them. In a previous Software Advice study, we learned that marketers consider using hashtags among the most important tactics for optimizing content on social media, second only to using images.

Including hashtags in tweets requires no extra effort, and can help expand a company’s reach beyond its dedicated followers. Indeed, Heagy says that hashtags can help companies “cast as wide of a net as possible to get the message out to that many more people.”

Hashtags can not only expand a company’s job-seeking audience, but can define it as well. By including hashtags related to the type of job (#BusinessMgmt), location (#BowlingGreen) or even target demographic (#Veterans), companies can make sure their job listing attracts the specific type of applicant they want.

Tweet Frequency Varies from Company to Company

Whether recruiters use personal or departmental Twitter accounts to attract talent or work with the marketing department to, as Milton describes it, “slip tweets in the stream” of the customer-facing Twitter handle, they must stay socially active to keep their desired audience engaged.

But how active should they be? Looking at our sample of Fortune 500 handles, it depends. Thirty-two percent of Fortune 500 recruiting handles tweet less than once per day on average while 34 percent tweet three times or more.

Fortune 500 Recruiting Handles: Average Number of Tweets per Day

If companies have a lot of interesting content to offer, are live-tweeting an event or have an urgent job opening, they should feel free to tweet as much as necessary to engage their audience. Otherwise, they shouldn’t spam their audience.

Because different Twitter users log on at different times of the day, “reposting of jobs and news is important,” Heagy says. Otherwise, for example, a user logging on in the afternoon might miss a tweet sent out that morning, since only the most recent tweets show up in their feed.

However, recruiters and hiring managers don’t have to wholly rely on real-time tweeting. Using social media management software, companies can create engaging content and schedule it to be tweeted out at a later date.

According to Software Advice’s previously referenced study, marketers most often schedule social media posts several days to one week ahead of time.

Conclusion: Twitter Recruiting Best Practices for SMBs

Twitter can be an effective medium for recruiting—once companies and recruiters realize how to properly use it. Here’s what we’ve learned about how SMBs can better engage talent on Twitter:

  • The audience is there, so make yourself known. A majority of job seekers use Twitter in their search, but many think companies are ineffective at using the platform for recruiting.Whether you use a primary Twitter handle or create one specifically for recruiting, it should clearly state on your profile what type of company you are, the jobs that are available and the kind of people you’re looking to hire.Having individual recruiters grow their Twitter followings can also give social media recruiting the “social” aspect job seekers crave.

  • Treat Twitter as a platform for content marketing, not job distribution. Don’t expect to receive applications immediately upon posting job listings. As Fortune 500 companies show, mixing in interesting content about recruiting events, employee stories and job perks along with job listings will keep followers tuned in so they apply when the fit is right.Using hashtags is an easy way to grow, focus and engage an audience.

  • Use software to manage Twitter and track its effectiveness. As Milton admits, the value of Twitter in recruiting is “hard to measure.” Luckily, many ATS platforms include Twitter integration, and can track anyone who applies through a tweeted job listing. You can also use a social media management platform to better manage interactions and do proactive outreach.

By following these best practices, companies can turn their Twitter accounts from ancillary job boards into a crucial platform in engaging today’s talent.


In terms of gender, 53 percent of our survey respondents are male while 47 percent are female.

Survey Respondents, by Gender

In terms of age, 45 percent of our respondents are between 26 and 35 years old.

Survey Respondents, by Age

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