Is it time to embrace TikTok as a recruitment tool?

Is TikTok really suited to be being a recruitment tool? Peter Crush investigates:

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Jun 26, 2023

Thanks to TikTok, entire HR concepts (like ‘quiet quitting’) have emerged and become instantly (and endlessly) written about.

It’s also spawned whole new practices for millennial employees to rally against (such as the TikTok buzzword ‘hustle culture’ – the less-than-admired practice of businesses rewarding employees for overworking themselves).

In a more positive vein though, it’s also become a platform to shine a light on really great staff too (such as when a video posted by one TikToker raised more than $100,000 to help an 81-year Walmart till-worker retire).

Not surprisingly, the platform attracts mass interest from brands/marketers. After all, TikTok has more than one billion active monthly users – and is used predominantly by Generation Z. For instance, did you know that some 40% of TikTok users aren’t even on Facebook anymore. So, this new-kid-on-the-block’ platform is rapidly the place of choice for brands to go to reach yound people.

It’s this fact that made it almost inevitable that the social media platform should also come to the attention of recruiters. TikTok does, after all, appear to command the attention and eyeballs of hard-to-reach younger people.

It’s easy to see why it appeals. On the plus side, TiKTok is highly collaborative; helps humanize and organization and the perfect destination for reaching tech-savvy, creative people. Companies can ‘broadcast’ themselves in inventive and ingenious ways that resonate with this cohort.

But is recruiting via TikTok really as easy as sticking yourself up there and hoping young people will flock to you? And what do HRDs really need to know about it to make sure they can recruit well, and not fall foul of being all style over substance?

TLNT decided to talk put these and other questions to Alexandra Anema, social media director at Bayard Advertising:

Q: Is TikTok really the ‘new LinkedIn’, and should HR be starting to take it more seriously?

A: “Gen Z are commonly referred to as the first “digital natives” – those that have grown up with technology and who are living and breathing it in their everyday lives. More than half (60%) of TikTok users in the US are Gen-Zers, making the platform a great resource for employers to get in front of and attract the up-and-coming working population. As the need for talent continues, TikTok is becoming a hugely useful channel for companies to connect with potential employees.”

Q: How exactly are employers using TikTok? Is it to promote their own brand on the platform, and get people to contact them, or is it to view people they might be interested in hiring?

A: “Employers are using TikTok for many reasons such as increasing visibility around their brands, receiving interest from potential job seekers, and promoting work culture and what the company has to offer. In 2021, we saw many large corporations like Target and Chipotle using TikTok for recruiting purposes. TikTok allows users in the US to apply for job openings by uploading a video of their skills and experiences using the #TikTokResumes hashtag. Incorporating a video resume into the hiring process through TikTok has been a great way for potential candidates to showcase themselves in the form of a short story and provide something different that can leave a good impression with hiring managers. TikTok can also be a great platform for companies looking to hire entry-level roles that don’t require certifications. The unique thing about TikTok is that you don’t have to be a big corporation to get a ton of visibility. We’ve seen TikTok become a great platform for local mom and pop shops that want to receive a lot of visibility quickly and drive interest from consumers.”

Q: Is there a specific profile of TikTok user that employers want to target?

A: “Employers will have different target audiences depending on their specific industry and services they provide. But for employers looking to target a younger audience, such as Gen Z, they may find TikTok to be a particularly effective platform.”

Q: IT can’t be that simple though, can it? Can HRDs be sucked into thinking TikTok is the silver bullet they’ve been seeking?

A: “Using TikTok for recruiting can be a big-time investment, especially organically. The recruiting and hiring team will have to post regularly and often, and not every company has the time to do this. If they can’t devote the amount of time it takes to recruit effectively on the channel, these recruitment efforts will become a waste of time and money. Another reason to be wary of it is that TikTok may not be as strong with specific targeting than other platforms because employers can’t layer target. What I mean by this is that they have to choose one interest only (ie if looking to hire a vet, employers can choose animals, but not veterinarians). The best social media platform for recruiting is on a case by case basis and depends on the company’s specific recruitment goals and target audience. It’s important to evaluate and consider which platform aligns best with a company’s needs and the positions that need to be filled based on certain credentials.”

Q: Are there certain sectors where TikTok is perfect?

A: “TikTok is a highly versatile platform that can be used effectively by a wide range of sectors. However, there are certain sectors where TikTok is particularly well-suited to use as a recruitment tool. This includes fashion and beauty, food and beverage, and entertainment. Overall, TikTok can be a great platform for any sector, but it’s important to remember that it will only be effective if that’s where an employer’s target audience is and will meet their goals and objectives.”

Q: Where have you seen TikTok being used to hire people to great success?

A: “We’re actually seeing great results in a selection of high-volume roles that we’ve been testing over the course of several months – food service, hospitality, retail, and manufacturing/warehouse. We’ve also seen success with sales and customer service campaigns but only under specific circumstances and with the right messaging. It’s just as important, of course, that once we hone in on the correct audience that we serve them content that encourages them to take the action that we want them to take. And on top of that, we need to make sure that whatever we’re asking of them is as easy to accomplish as we can possibly make it. If the whole exchange from the very beginning is thoughtfully developed, it creates a positive first interaction with the brand and the potential employer. Successful social ads need to be mobile-first, built for the end-user’s experience, and fast. Everything else can come later.”

Q: Does having a corporate presence on TikTok really unearth ‘hidden’ talent, or does it just make it easier for people to find a company that interests them?

A: “Having a corporate presence on TikTok can potentially do both. By creating engaging and informative content, companies can showcase their company culture, values, and opportunities for career growth. This can help them attract top talent who may not have been aware of their brand or who may not have considered them as a potential employer in the past. Additionally, TikTok can help companies uncover hidden talent by surfacing videos and profiles of users who have relevant skills or interests. This can be particularly useful for companies in creative industries where they may be looking for individuals with unique talents or perspectives. By creating engaging and informative content, companies can showcase their strengths and connect with potential job candidates in a fun and creative way.”

Q: What tips do you have for using TikTok successfully as a recruitment tool?

An effective social media strategy should include the following elements:

  • Clear goals: Define the objectives of your social media strategy, such as increasing brand awareness, attracting job candidates, or engaging with customers.
  • Target audience: Identify your target audience and tailor your content to their interests and preferences.
  • Consistent branding: Maintain a consistent brand identity across all social media platforms, including visuals, tone, and messaging.
  • Engaging content: Create engaging and relevant content, such as videos, photos, and blog posts, that align with your target audience’s interests. Building a video marketing strategy can be an effective way to showcase your company brand and culture and you can pack a lot into 30 or 90 seconds. Placement and embedded marketing are crucial for targeting the right audience too, strategically placing videos in job postings and other places potential candidates might visit (e.g., TikTok, Instagram reels, Facebook reels, etc.)
  • Analytics and metrics: Monitor your social media performance and track key metrics, such as engagement rate and reach, to adjust your strategy as needed.”

 Q: Finally…is TikTok already an ‘old hat’, and is there something new just around the corner?

A “If I knew the answer to that, would I tell?! It’s always interesting to see the rise and fall of the “next big platform” – but the fact is, we can think we know and we can track downloads and global usage and something that seems like it’s about to be the next big thing, but then it just falls away into obscurity (or gets absorbed by one of the bigger players never to be heard from again…). Tiktok is certainly not “old hat” yet and is still in its infancy in many ways compared to its predecessors. But it is facing different challenges than they ever did, like potentially being banned at the height of its growth. If a TikTok “ban” were to be enacted, there are already multiple up-and-coming apps ready to try to fill the void like Triller, Likee and Huddles – but users might just flock to reliable standbys like Instagram Reels instead. Your guess is as good as ours.”

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