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Aug 11, 2021

I can almost hear the sniggering now, dismissing the preposterous idea that a platform like TikTok could ever be considered the future of hiring. 

Well, before we dive into what’s possible, I wish to be clear: the ways that the next generation of the workforce engages with digital is very different from how older generations. So let’s skip past Gen Z and imagine for a moment how Generation Alpha will view the world?  

Gen A knows nothing but digital, as the cohort born from 2010 to present. Imagine never knowing a world without an iPhone, Facebook, and Snapchat. In another decade, which we all know will go unbelievably fast, this generation will be in college or will have gone straight into the workforce. Their perception of the world around them and the way they interact with other people will be completely different from everyone today. 

After all, look at all that has been created digitally in the last 15 years, and then imagine how much the world will change again in the next 15. We are inevitably accelerating into a future with no true way of testing how all the new stimuli will impact the masses.  

So with all that in mind, is it really that radical to suggest that TikTok could be the future for hirers not only to reach their captive audience but to onboard and maybe — dare I say it — abolish the need for the long-standing resume? 

Facebook and Twitter have managed to both engage and retain their audiences for over 15 years (Instagram has also managed to do this for over a decade). What this means is that we can safely assume that TikTok will be no different — it will continue to be the platform of choice for Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Let’s discuss. 

Reaching Talent Is Getting Harder

It’s no secret that finding talent is becoming more difficult. We’re in the middle of a major talent shortage, especially in the hourly wage market, and potential workers are not sitting around all day scouring job boards. Even Indeed, the biggest U.S. job board, is lucky to boast 200 million visits a month. And with each unique visitor accounting for five visits, their audience is roughly 40 million active people. 

Let’s compare that to TikTok: 62% 10- to 29-year-olds are on the platform, and the app itself has been downloaded over 2 billion times with over 689 million global users

Keep in mind that hourly workers are typically young people at the beginning of their careers — and 62% of them are using TikTok. If you want to reach them, you have to start going where they are engaged and get on their level. These users spend an average of 52 minutes a day on the app. Process that for a second. Indeed has a visitor’s engagement of six minutes and 58 seconds. TikTok is holding their audience’s attention almost 8 times longer. 

If you want to inspire discovery and be an employer that thinks outside the box, you must go where your target demographic is.

Social Media Platforms Aren’t Professional

That, at least, is an argument some make against leveraging TikTok for hiring. A decade ago, I would have agreed, but today our digital alter ego and our consumption of social media networks are so commonplace that you cannot judge an individual’s professional life by their personal one. 

We all drink, take ridiculous photos with friends, get dressed up for parties, share our political views, and opine on news online. If we were to still have a problem with someone’s personal life being visible on social media, there would literally be no one to hire today. 

TikTok is about entertainment, and the platform users are one of three types of people: entertainers, spectators, or a hybrid of the two. Yet regardless, they all consume vast quantities of video content as a way of engaging themselves and satisfying their various information and entertainment needs. 

What’s more, work is part of all of our daily lives along with socializing, eating, etc. It also does not need to sit in the corner on its own, as some taboo that isn’t allowed in the crowd, nor should it isolate itself in such a way. Work can be fun, it can be down to earth, it has a personality, and the people that work at a company have personalities, too. 

Why shouldn’t all that be shared in a way that helps employers find more people who are similar and good fits for their workplace culture?  

TikTok is certainly a platform where people could express more about themselves during the hiring process, which would help identify a better fit candidate faster. Fit in many cases is actually more important than the skills themselves. If a person can be trained and can learn (which we all can), then the personality and character fit is possibly the most important part of determining a good hire. And which would deliver that better — a TikTok video or an old-school resume?

Companies Will Always Need a Resume

It was a rhetorical question. The sooner we can ditch the old-school, archaic resume, the better. After 15 years in the recruitment industry, I’ve seen millions of resumes across various databases — and they all read the same, are all structured the same, are all completely flawed, and are absolutely no reflection of the person behind them  

I do agree that the current hiring infrastructure is set up so that the resume plays a dominant role when it comes to being shortlisted (one of the biggest flaws in the hiring process). You have millions of resumes submitted to jobs, which makes it impossible for recruiters to read all of them. This leads to relying on AI to do the shortlisting, which unfortunately means all of the shortcomings inherent and unconsciously built into AI are inevitably part of the hiring process. 

A resume does not determine personality or character fit at all. It’s completely soulless and has too much of a focus on skills that in all honesty could be taught to anyone if you hire the right personality for your company. 

Watching TikTok videos of potential candidates may sound like it would be a much longer process, but would it? 

In what context are we thinking about this? If we could skip the resume altogether and instead watch a pre-recorded video about a candidate, then we could actually hire people faster. And most importantly, we would hire better candidates. 

While arguably this technology does exist in the market, the reality is that lack of user engagement has typically been a struggle for asynchronous video-interviewing and resume platforms, which are typically targeted at geriatric millennials or Gen X (who just aren’t the right demographic). The difference with TikTok is that it already has a huge, very engaged audience who are willing to create video content about themselves. 

Labor Force Amnesia

I recently spent time with some very bright minds at a local university, educating them on the hiring process. It dawned on me that despite how smart these young people are, there are many companies that they had no idea existed. We discussed some fairly prominent names, including General Dynamics and Randstad, and they had zero idea who any of these multibillion-dollar organizations were. 

Companies must brand themselves out to market if they are ever going to have a hope of reaching the future labor force and audiences of tomorrow. Taking their brand and putting a personality behind it on TikTok is an engaging way to start pipelining the future workforce. 

In five years, there will be a whole new world of workers who will have been fully engaged with TikTok for over seven years and could be aware of the different hiring brands, like some of the names mentioned above. The talent pipeline would come to the company, as workers will have built relationships with these hirers in a more approachable and social fashion.

Humanizing Hiring

In short, because TikTok has 62% of 10-29 year olds engaged on its platform, it’s relevant today and could certainly increase adoption as a hiring platform in the future, especially as the younger people enter working age. Which makes it especially critical for companies to overcome the historic stigma of social media being unprofessional and realize that digital is universal, that we all have personal and professional lives, and that trying to keep them completely separate comes at too great a cost, especially when hiring.

TikTok represents the perfect opportunity to showcase a company’s personality and to begin to build a talent pipeline of the future hires of tomorrow, as well as today. And so I’ll say it again: The resume is so completely outdated — it must change. Generation Alpha will simply laugh at our historic way of “measuring people” by a bunch of lofty words that express nothing about the humans behind them. TikTok could actually start a movement toward humanizing hiring.

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