What is a #Hashtag?

#hashtagsHashtags started life on Twitter but have started cropping up all over the web.

What are Hashtags?

They provide Twitter users with a way to add context to their tweets. Here’s some examples:

Tweeting about a TV program or sporting event, like the olympic opening ceramony

Tweeting from a conference like The Social Recruiting Conference

Taking part in a contest run by a consumer brand

Tweets relevant to a particular location or town, like Reading

You can turn any word into a hashtag simply by putting the # symbol ahead of it. You can’t have any spaces or special characters in a hashtag.

Before using a hashtag for the first time, it’s worth looking to see how people use it. Run a search on Twitter for your chosen tag to see if it is being used and how.

I have used #rdg as an example above. #Reading is already being used by book lovers all over the world so it would make no sense to use it to talk about traffic, weather or events local to the town of Reading in Berkshire. Residents have chosen to use #rdg instead.

This shows how important it is to check a hashtag before using it. By using a hashtag, you are making yourself a part of an online community.

How are recruiters using hashtags?

1. Learning

Twitter chats are a great way to learn. A Twitter chat is a discussion that takes place at a predetermined time using a hashtag to help participants keep track of the debate. Popular Twitter Chats for recruiters include; #TalentNet #TChat #HFChat #JobHuntChat #CareerChat.

Recruiters also use hashtags to share relevant links and information all the time, like: #socialrecruiting and #uksourcers.

2. Sourcing

Hashtags are great for spotting people in other industries doing exactly what recruiters are doing above and more.

Just last week I discovered that nurses have a fortnightly Twitter chat on the tag #NTtwitChat.


This sort of things goes on in many industries. Do you know if there is a Twitter chat for users in your market places?

You can also track events happening in your niche. For example, there is a meetup of the London Ruby Users Group today. You can track who is attending using the #LRUG hashtag.

3. Advertising, Promotion and Branding

This option is much more tricky as it’s very easy for an inexperienced Twitter user to look like a spammer when they try to use a hashtag to promote a job.

There was a time when the #rdg hashtag was flooded by recruiters trying to promote jobs in the Reading area. This might make sense to us as recruiters and sourcers but those Tweets were only relevant to very few Reading residents – only a small percentage would be looking for a job at all and even fewer would be appropriate for it. It can actually be quite damaging to the brand of a recruitment business. Something like #rdgjobs, promoted very occasionally on the main #rdg tag would have been a better strategy.

The same happens when you take an industry hashtag to promote jobs, you can end up displacing the original users of the tag, making your efforts pointless. Better to invent your own tag and promote it occasionally on the main tag.

Hashtags like #jobs, #job and #careers are very popular, but are used so much that it makes it unlikely your one job would be seen. They can still be useful though as job seekers can team up the hashtag with an industry, skill or location keyword to find jobs relevant to them.

Using Hashtags with your non-job content is probably most important.

Research tags and find one that has a community and content relevant to what you are planning to share. You want to be enriching a community by providing genuinely useful and interesting content.

If you are using a tool like bit.ly or hootsuite to shorten links to your content then you will see what content gets the most clicks. Most people find that hashtags greatly increase engagement factors like clicks, retweets and @replies.

How are you using Hashtags?