TikTok and recruitment – can it be true?
What do you think when you hear the word “TikTok”?
If you think it’s just school kids dancing to Ariana Grande songs, you’re wrong!
Because what started as a social media platform for sharing funny, short videos is now a huge platform with millions of users that has changed the rules of the game in more than one industry – including recruitment.
Because while TikTok recruitment may sound unconventional, it’s likely to become the norm in the near future. TikTok’s growing popularity globally makes it the medium you might want to take a closer look at.
Especially if you’re recruiting Millennials and Gen Z.
In a time when talent is in high demand, it’s not enough to use the “traditional” recruitment strategy of posting a job ad and then waiting for candidates to apply.
It takes more than that.
And in this context, social recruiting has been one of the most popular recruitment trends in recent years.
Social recruiting refers to the process of using social media to find, attract and hire talent and candidates. The term covers various strategies that utilize media and platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, etc.) and other internet sites (e.g. blogs, job portals, professional forums, etc.).
Social recruiting isn’t just about posting a video in the hope of attracting candidates. It’s about developing a culture and identity for the organization so that when someone sees a post from there, they will be inspired and want to be a part of your organization. You can use social media to build a relationship with potential candidates and attract and “entice” them to apply for open positions in your organization.
What is TikTok?
There are a wide variety of social media and platforms that can be used in social recruiting. One of these is TikTok.
But what is TikTok?
In short, TikTok is a platform for sharing short videos.
The platform first gained popularity for its dance challenges, lipsyncing and app filte. But as the number of users has grown, the type of content being shared has also evolved. Today, TikTok is not only an entertainment platform, but also a platform where professionals share useful how-to’s, including on recruitment.
TikTok’s popularity exploded over the past few years – especially during the COVID-19 lock-downs. In 2020, TikTok was the most downloaded app worldwide, overtaking Facebook, Instagram and Zoom. The app has more than 1 billion monthly active users and has quickly become the app of choice for Millennials and Gen Z.
And TikTok is used more daily than other platforms (58 minutes on average).
Who uses TikTok?
But aren’t the majority of TikTok users teenagers and school children?
Contrary to popular belief, the app is also becoming popular among adults.
Demographically, 78% of TikTok users are under 39 years old, while 30% are between 20-29 years old. TikTok is primarily used by the generations we call “Millinnials” and “Gen Z”.
While the age group is the younger part of the population, it’s important to note that Millennials and Gen Z will become the largest demographic in the workforce as Baby Boomers exit the labor market. Gen Z refers to the cohorts born between 1997 and 2015. This means that they have either just entered the labor market or will do so in the coming years. Next, they make up the majority of the hourly paid workforce, such as students and student jobs. Gen Z is known as our first “digital natives”. That is, they’ve grown up with technology – and have a completely different relationship with the platforms and its content than the group that is slowly leaving the workforce.
TikTok and recruitment – why?
So why might it be relevant to use TikTok for recruitment?
- Number of people: Through TikTok’s platform, millions of people can be accessed. Even with a small budget and a little creativity, it’s possible to get exposure to thousands of the over 700 million TikTok users.
- Target audience: As mentioned, Millennials and Gen Z are becoming the largest demographic in the workforce as Baby Boomers begin to exit the workforce. It’s about meeting candidates where they are. And right now, it’s TikTok – approximately 78% of TikTok users are under 40. If you’re in an industry where it’s hard to attract the younger generations, TikTok could be an option. And while this group doesn’t make up the majority of the primary target audience now, they will eventually.
- TikTok > LinkedIn: The Financial Post has called it “Gen Z’s LinkedIn” – and this view seems to be gaining traction among HR professionals as well. While about half of adults aged 18-29 have a TikTok account, only 30% have a LinkedIn account. Whether this attitude among users and statistics doesn’t change as they get older is anyone’s guess.
- Less competition: TikTok is a largely unused channel for recruitment. That’s why there aren’t as many headhunters and recruitment consultants on the platform as there are, for example Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. This means less competition and more attention to your recruitment content.
The challenges of recruiting via TikTok
Of course, there are also some challenges associated with using TikTok as part of your recruitment strategy.
The biggest challenge of using TikTok for recruitment is that the platform is not built for or intended for recruitment. It’s built for entertainment. And by extension, TikTok users are not on the medium to find a job. Furthermore, you can’t link to other websites from the videos, making it difficult to drive traffic to your website or job posting – no matter how many views your TikTok gets.
Secondly, it can be hard to be seen. The app will show your content to users who engage with similar content, but if the first few people don’t engage, the algorithm will “slow down” the content and only a few people will see it. Search results on TikTok are also ranked by number of views, so if your videos don’t have many views, few people will watch them even when searching for this type of content.
Just as the target group is one of the advantages of using TikTok for recruitment, it is also one of the disadvantages. This means that it is not possible to use TikTok for all positions or “levels”. Before you start advertising on TikTok, you should consider whether the job opportunity is suitable for a younger audience. If not, it’s probably not worth the time and resources to promote it on TikTok.
Last but not least, having to film yourself and upload it to TikTok for everyone to see can be a deterrent for some. For example, Coca-Cola turned their recruitment process into a “game” on TikTok. To apply, users had to participate in an interactive challenge and convince them how they would promote Coke Zero – all within just 30 seconds! This means that Coca-Cola only gets “access to”/applications from some people. Namely those who want to share things on TikTok. Many of us are passive social media users. This means that we are happy to scroll through the feed and like other people’s content, but rarely post content ourselves. The fact that the recruitment process involves making up content and posting it on TikTok may deter this segment from applying.
It’s also important to remember that not everyone is good at filming videos or has the creative talent to do so. A qualified candidate can give the wrong impression if they submit a poor video because they’re not used to being in front of a camera, don’t have experience of what works in a video or don’t have the right equipment.
To use TikTok or not to use TikTok?
Then we come to the big question: Should you use TikTok in your recruitment?
As we can see, there are both benefits and challenges to implementing TikTok in a recruitment strategy. If you want to experiment with it, you should try one. The worst thing you can do is simply do nothing. Challenge yourself and your company’s recruiters to hit the record button and create recruitment content to attract the candidates you need.
However, you should consider whether your target audience actually uses TikTok.
What can you share on TikTok that fits into a recruitment strategy?
Once you have decided that you want to use TikTok as part of your recruitment strategy, the next step is to produce content to share on the platform.
And what to share?
TikTok can be a great platform to showcase your team, humanize your brand and provide insight into your organization’s culture and values.
Depending on your goals, you can use the platform to provide valuable candidate information, such as resume and interview tips, or use it to enhance your employer brand.
Some have studios with professional lighting and sound, while others simply use their smartphone. How and what you produce is up to you and what fits your recruitment strategy (and who you want to target).
Tips and tricks for using TikTok and content suggestions
To reach as many people as possible, you can use some of the tips and tricks below.
- Hashtags: Hashtags are the driving force on TikTok – they inspire users to create content that relates to the different hashtags and follow the topics they are most passionate about. Hashtags make it easy for users to find relevant content in the app. Make use of popular hashtags that relate to your niche and industry – this can help increase the visibility of your posts and boost engagement with your followers. For example, if you’re recruiting a teacher, include the #teachersoftiktok hashtag in your content. For example, check out #nursesoftiktok, #designersoftiktok and others to get ideas for content that can work well across industries. Hashtags like #jobsearch, #joblife #careeropportunities etc. are more business-oriented. But hashtags will help you target your TikTok content in a more effective way.
- Have a goal with your content: First and foremost, you need a strategy for your use of TikTok in a recruitment context. Is your primary goal to increase the number of applicants by achieving a wider reach through social media? Or do you want to create greater brand awareness? If it’s the former, you could share videos that show the application process step-by-step. But setting a goal will help steer you in the right direction when planning your content.
- Entertain and educate: Users on TikTok are looking for two things: to be entertained and to learn. For this reason, you can create your TikTok recruitment content with learning in mind, not marketing. A great example is Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, which uses their TikTok channel to teach their followers about healthy living and answer frequently asked questions about health. If you can teach users something they don’t already know and entertain them at the same time, you’re well on your way to building a following.
- Behind the scenes: Another type of video is behind the scenes or “a day at the office”. If you want to promote a job, a video can feature the recruitment consultants or other employees in the role being recruited for talking about what it’s like to be employed in the organization and in that role. You can also show videos of what it’s generally like to work for your organization and showcase your organizational culture and environment. Secondly, studies show that younger generations are increasingly concerned with company culture. With TikTok, you can show them what it’s like to work in your organization and team – who they can expect to work with, career opportunities, the organization’s core values, etc.
- Recruitment ads: Like other social platforms, businesses can buy ads on TikTok and target specific audiences and job seekers.
Most importantly: Creativity is at the heart of TikTok. So think outside the box and try out ideas that spark interest.
Gen Z has embraced TikTok – what about everyone else?
Does this mean we should now rely solely on TikTok when recruiting?
No, definitely not.
Because while there are some obvious benefits of TikTok, TikTok will probably never be the only part of a recruitment process. And there are several reasons why.
First of all, it may exclude a large portion of candidates, including older generations who may not be as familiar with social media as well as candidates working in more “structured” industries and disciplines. For example, someone might be a whiz at producing spreadsheets and analyzing data, but this might not translate into a dazzling self-promotional video.
Secondly, the use of TikTok will lead to more biases in the recruitment process. We automatically form biases (consciously and unconsciously) the second we see and hear someone speak. When/if we need to decide whether to invite a candidate further in a recruitment process based on a TikTok video, we give the hiring party the option to reject candidates based on how they look or act.
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