The right way to Leverage the TikTok Resume for Your Firm

Generation Z (born 1997 to 2010) have been university graduates for at least two years and high school graduates for six years. According to the United States Census Bureau, they make up about a quarter of the US population. Manpower reports that Zs already make up 24% of the local workforce. For many companies, especially smaller companies with no or less sophisticated recruiting / HR structures, it was a challenge to find this workforce. Trying to try traditional channels has not worked as well for Generation Z workers as it has for their next generation cousins, the Ys (Millennials / 1981-1996). That’s because, for all the merging of Ys and Zs, Generation Z workers behave differently than their Millennial counterparts.

TikTok, whose user base has grown from just 11 million monthly active US users in 2018 to over 100 million today, 41% of whom are between 16 and 24 years old, is becoming increasingly popular as a job search tool with younger Americans. These working-age Zs are opting for TikTok instead of other, more typical business networking apps for job hunting and job hunting. Sites like LinkedIn, which have 1.6 million active talent and 3 new hires per minute on their About page, have been overlooked by working-age Gen Z. In fact, a recent survey by Bixa found that while 50% of 19- to 24-year-olds have a LinkedIn account, a whopping 96% don’t use it. Unlike their parents, these young workers do not see LinkedIn as a social media application and therefore shy away from it; Instead, they found a way to use what they consider social media to serve their purpose.

Young Zs originally started using TikTok for job search advice by asking their coworkers for insights into job interviews, résumé content, work locations, etc. Hashtags for #jobsearch, #jobsearchtips and #careeadvice generate tremendous interaction and result in views of 420 million, 78 million and 1.6 B, with a B, or for research carried out in the week of September 20, 2021. The now widespread phenomenon of the TikTok (video) résumé grew out of its use as a career advice portal. In a trend initiated by TikTok user @Alyshea, young people are increasingly shunning the traditional résumé text format of the past six centuries in exchange for a more visual and expressive video version posted on TikTok. Here is an example from TikTok user @briseaberg. During the same period referred to above, the hashtags #tiktokresumes and #hireme received 343 million and 148 million views, respectively. The trend has been so overwhelming that TikTok itself is looking for ways to commercialize it.

In real chicken and egg succession, the growth of the chicken bottom of young people using TikTok as a job search platform led the social media company to launch a pilot program called TikTok Resumes in July 2021. Working with companies like Chipotle, Target, and Shopify, TikTok tested a platform to formalize what has been happening organically on their website for some time by linking job postings with job seekers. Commenting on the move, TikTok said, “TikTok believes there is a way to improve people’s experience of TikTok by enhancing the platform’s usefulness as a recruiting channel.” While the future of the pilot is still unclear, it is clear that individual users will use TikTok for job search on their own. In fact, a recent survey by YPulse, the leading provider of youth research and insights and the leading expert on Gen Z and Millennials, found that the majority of young workers are open to using TikTok to apply for a job, though they have raised concerns about the suitability of videos for introverted candidates and the potential of videos to provoke prejudice. And these youngsters don’t just use TikTok on the way there.

As with LinkedIn, many working Zs don’t see sites like Indeed or Glass Door as social media sites and also see them as services for older workers. As a result, many have turned to other platforms, mostly TikTok, to provide post-exit company reviews – good and bad. The hashtag #quitmyjob generates around 160 million views. In addition, hashtags of construction, #iquitmyjobat_____ (company name in spaces), ensure hundreds of thousands more views. The potential of such videos represents an important opportunity for companies looking to maintain their image as a great place to work. Lots of companies figured that out quickly and were at the TikTok party early on. Companies like Guess, HBO, Ralph Lauren and Nerf are regularly and successfully involved as employers in the TikTok community, looking for talent and publishing content that tells the story of working in these places. So are small businesses like Sal Studios, a stationery and wedding design company in Denver; and CJ House Leveling, a foundation repair company in San Antonio, Texas.

Smaller companies are naturally more difficult to find for new employees and are often less attractive as employers than better-known and well-known brands. TikTok is an easy and inexpensive way to get and build your credibility with Gen Zs, half of whom have TikTok accounts. Gen Z members spend more than 6 hours a day on social media, with TikTok just behind Instagram on their list of most-visited websites. For this reason, they used the platform as a point of contact for help and advice when looking for a job. And that’s why TikTok is a target group-rich environment for small businesses looking for new employees.

Getting started is as easy as searching the website for qualified employees using hashtags that are appropriate for your business and / or creating content to promote your business and potential job opportunities. If you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of TikTok, fear not. Chances are, you know or hire someone under 25 to help you out. I am in different stages of raising 3 Zs myself. If you want to go all-in, there are content coaches and content creators available to assist your hiring team as well. The most important first step, however, is to recognize and use TikTok’s value as a recruiting tool.

None of this is to suggest that you should abandon all or all of your existing recruiting practices. Neither method works for all hiring needs or with all demographics. It’s also wise to remember that while Zs are the first generation digitally native, that doesn’t mean they are digitally exclusive. This is a generation that, unlike millennials, lives from personal contact. So don’t rely on traditional tools that enable these interactions, like career days and campus visits. But, in order to miss the gist of it all, don’t overlook new ones – like TikTok – either. Finally, there are more Zs that this first crop came from, and their new approaches are likely to remain. And since YPulse reports that 63% of 18- to 24-year-olds who work are planning to get a new job within the next year, there is no better time than now.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.

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