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How #TikTokResumes is ushering in a new style of job applications

Posted by Grace Townsley

August 19, 2021    |     3-minute read (624 words)

In May 2021, job openings in the U.S. hit a record high of 9.2 million. That’s roughly one open job for every currently unemployed American. Desperately needing to hire, some companies are turning to an unlikely applicant source – TikTok.

Video applications are rising in popularity

Videos give candidates the chance to share a 30-second elevator pitch in an engaging way. Plus, candidates can showcase talents that otherwise don’t translate well on a paper resume. For job seekers with skills like public speaking, video editing and interpersonal communication, video resumes help them stand out. Colleges have utilized video applications for years, but this nontraditional resume format is just now finding its way into the job market at large.

In July, TikTok launched a pilot program to help connect hiring managers to a younger pool of talent. For this program, which ran from July 7 to 31, TikTok partnered with several major companies including Chipotle, Target and Shopify. Together, they hosted a virtual job fair aiming to help these companies fill mostly entry-level positions. Participants were encouraged to create video resumes that showcased their job-related talents, like cooking, public speaking and customer service, in a creative way. Hiring managers from these companies were able to browse hundreds of video resumes and reach out to their top picks to schedule an interview.

TikTok Resumes is an extension of #CareerTok, a subculture where creators share job search tips, resume suggestions, career advice, and internship help. This thriving community consists of mostly Gen Z, high school to college-aged students. While TikTok hasn’t announced another job fair opportunity, video applications are expected to gain popularity as more Gen Z job seekers enter the market. 

TikTok isn’t the only social media hiring platform either. Many companies have offered positions to content creators on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. And experts predict LinkedIn will soon release a video application option for companies creating job postings, giving applicants the choice of traditional or video resumes.

The drawback? Hiring bias can run rampant with video applications

An unfortunate potential consequence of applying by video is the risk of hiring bias. That’s why traditional resumes omit most demographic details such as age, religion, gender and race. For older candidates especially, who aren’t as adept at content creation, this trend can allow even unintentional bias to skew hiring practices. Job applicants without access to a smartphone are also at a disadvantage when it comes to video applications. 

Considering that it is currently illegal to request a job applicant to provide their photo as part of the hiring process, some question the legality of requiring, or even encouraging, a video resume. 

Advocates for video applications point out that appearance discrimination can happen regardless of whether the applicant uses a video to apply. Chances are high that the hiring manager will have already seen the applicant’s face before their first interview. Applicants’ photos are usually displayed on LinkedIn, across social media and in a Google search – all of which are legal for employers to look at before offering an interview. 

Should your company allow or encourage video applications?

It depends on the job you’re filling. For companies looking to hire positions in sales, marketing and customer service, a video is worth a thousand words. Especially in a job market where there are millions of unfilled positions and a small pool of applicants for them, creating as many paths to employment as possible can help increase your chances of finding the right people for your business. Prospective employees who see companies allowing and even encouraging creative talent expression are more enthusiastic about applying, so being on the front line of this trend can actually be a benefit for your company. 

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