When scrolling through TikTok, if you stumble upon #WorkTok, you might find employers asking for TikTok video submissions to apply for a job.
These videos are usually made using Stitch, a creation tool that allows you to combine another video on TikTok with one you’re creating, by the applicant who makes their own video saying why they’re a fit for the role. It’s led to a rise in young professionals making short videos explaining why they’re fit for a job, rather than submitting a resume through an online application portal.
“For years, employers have requested candidates submit pre-recorded interviews, but taking the initiative to proactively create your own TikTok for professional opportunities really sets you far apart from the rest, allowing for your personality and ambition to shine,” said Kyle Evanko, a freelancer on Upwork who works in the marketing space. “I love seeing the eager professionals utilize TikToks to stand out from the rest. It’s the perfect litmus test to show your future employer or client that you’re serious about the role, and serious about your work.”
A study from research tech firm Delineate found that only 15% of Gen Zers choose Google as their primary search engine. But they don’t use any of the traditional Google search engine rivals either – they use TikTok. Because of that, it makes sense that these young professionals are not only finding potential new jobs there, but are applying for them in the same place as well.
And employers are leveraging the opportunity as well. Cleo, an AI assistant for personal finance, is hiring a short-term role for a chief spending officer who will use Cleo’s AI-powered recommendations for a month and track their budget. One of the requirements? Duetting their TikTok with answers to interview questions like “do you have main character energy?” and “what makes you qualified to get paid to spend money for free?” The candidate does not need to follow up with a resume submission.
“We chose TikTok for several reasons,” said Annie Jackson, head of talent at Cleo. “It is a popular platform for Gen Z and a dynamic space for candidates to express their personality and creativity in a short and impactful format, which gives a better sense of people’s personality beyond a traditional resume.”
Jackson says that through TikTok, applicants can convey their personalities, social media skills and content creativity, providing a more holistic view than a conventional resume. She believes that this approach will likely grow in popularity in creative industries, especially for positions that require creativity, communications skills and a strong online presence.
“Although the success of this is dependent on the type of role and audience, in a bid to remain competitive and hire top talent, companies need to sync up their hiring processes with the preferences of their target demographic,” said Jackson. “It’s not just about staying relevant, it’s about being innovative and stepping into the future of work in a way that truly speaks to them.”
Ratepunk, a hotel price comparison app, is one of those companies that has taken advantage of hiring through TikTok. The company recently needed to fill the role of a TikTok content creator and one of the tasks in the hiring process was to send a TikTok video.
“We have a very straightforward, startup-y but effective hiring method,” said Aristida Markauskaite, Ratepunk’s HR manager. “We don’t really care for CVs but rather for the practical skills and dedication to the hiring process.”
The task at hand? Create a TikTok that would appeal to Ratepunk’s target audience and be in keeping with its brand voice and the service it provides. The team received over 50 TikToks.
Markauskaite said that step one was the TikTok, but if someone sent a resume first, she reached out to them asking them to make a TikTok. After submitting a TikTok video, candidates were given an in-person interview. Markauskaite says that asking people to provide an example of what they would be creating for the company is how they got to where they are today on the app, which includes multiple viral videos. They ended up hiring Rimvydas Matukynas.
“RatePunk was the first job where I had to make TikToks to get hired, and I thought ‘oh god, this is complete nonsense,’” said Matukynas. “[But] showcasing what vibe you create through your work is so important. To me that always seemed more important than any criteria like knowledge. This might have been the weirdest hiring process compared to other jobs, but in my eyes, it’s also the most normal one I’ve had because it focused on vibe, mentality and communication over anything else.”
But this approach has nuances as well. Geoff Newman, managing director for RecruitmentGenius.com, said that while TikTok applications show a new degree of creativity and a sense of the applicant’s personality, it can be harder to compare applications because there is no standardized format.
“The short format, whilst being quick to watch, needed to be more comprehensive to make a decision, and I still required a telephone interview to request basic information that otherwise would have been provided in a CV,” said Newman, who recently received a TikTok application for a motorsport coordinator position.
Beyond that, there are discrimination risks. “I couldn’t insist all applicants provide TikTok applications because a specific generation inherently uses the medium,” said Newman. “Videos also naturally reveal more about a candidate’s age, ethnicity and other personal factors, which could unintentionally introduce bias into the hiring process.”
Caitlin Begg, founder of Authentic Social, agrees there is a right to have additional caution if recruiting through TikTok. She’s hired five interns since 2020 through the app, but has had to be mindful.
“A regular application is better for accessibility purposes,” said Begg. “It’s not fair for people to make a TikTok if they don’t want to put themselves out there. You might end up favoring people who come from more affluent backgrounds if you say ‘oh, just post a TikTok’ when people can’t do that if they’re still at their current job.”
That’s why in her case, she stuck with only promoting internship opportunities on the platform and not requiring sending any videos in. That’s what training provider First Aid Course Leicester did too. Sarah Jeffries, HR and people management specialist at the company, said that they advertised their open internship positions on TikTok and the response was “incredible.”
“Thanks to the innovative and relatable content we posted, we were able to uncover and connect with a wealth of diverse talent eager to help us fulfill our mission,” said Jeffries.
The training provider ended up hiring five individuals as interns.