“To all recruiters!” Makena Yee, 21, a college student in Seattle, called her camera on a recent TikTok video. “These are the reasons why you should hire me!”
Ms. Yee went on to outline her qualifications. “I’m confident, I love to stay organized, I’m adaptable and a team player,” she said as images of companies she had worked for flashed on a green screen behind her.
The 60-second video quickly garnered over 182,000 views and hundreds of comments. Users highlighted potential employers. “Somebody is hiring Herrrr!” Pleaded a commentator. Ms. Yee said she received more than 15 job offers that she would like to pursue after doing a summer internship.
In the modern job search, tidy, one-page CVs are increasingly being sent over the fax machine. This could be sped up by an app known for viral lip-syncing and dance videos that is popularizing the TikTok resume.
As more students and graduates use TikTok to network and find work, the company has introduced a program that allows people to apply for jobs directly. And employers, many of whom face labor shortages, are interested. Chipotle, Target, Alo Yoga, Sweetgreen, and more than three dozen other companies have started hiring employees through the app.
The TikTok resume is at the center of this effort. Applicants submit videos using the hashtag #TikTokResumes and through TikTokresumes.com to show off their skills, something of a personal essay from ancient times. They contain their contact details and, if they wish, their LinkedIn profile. Employers review the videos that need to be released to the public and arrange interviews with the applicants they find most compelling.
The resumes are an attempt to help young people “get the bag” and get paid, Kayla Dixon, a marketing manager at TikTok who developed the program, said in a statement.
They’re also an outgrowth of a part of TikTok called careertok, where people share job search advice, résumé tips, and job opportunities. Videos with the hashtag #edutokcareer have garnered over 1.2 billion views since TikTok launched in the US in 2018.
But the video résumés have also raised concerns. The format removes some level of anonymity and allows employers to potentially fire candidates based on an individual’s looks or behavior. Much of the networking on TikTok also relies on the accumulation of views, which can be difficult for those unfamiliar with content creation or struggling to get it evenly distributed across the app’s feed.
TikTok isn’t the first social platform companies want to use for recruiting. LinkedIn, Microsoft’s professional networking site, is heavily used by both job seekers and recruiters. In 2015, Taco Bell posted internship opportunities on Snapchat, and in 2017, McDonald’s let people apply through a Snapchat tool called Snaplications. In the same year, Facebook enabled companies to post job offers on their pages and to communicate with applicants via Facebook Messenger.
TikTok is now moving on to video applications instead of swiping to a more traditional application page. Although TikTok resumes are accessible to people of all ages, the top videos submitted via the hashtag are from Gen-Z users, most of whom are in college. According to the app, over 800 applicants submitted TikTok résumés in the past week.
“Hiring people or finding candidates through video just feels like a natural evolution of our position in society,” said Karyn Spencer, global chief marketing officer for Whalar, an influencer company that recently hired a TikTok employee. “We’re all communicating more and more through videos and photos, but so many résumés that our hiring team receives feel like 1985.”
Kalli Roberts, 23, a student at Brigham Young University in Utah, said the 2001 film Legally Blonde inspired her TikTok resume. She recreated the famous application video that the main character Elle Woods, played by Reese Witherspoon, submitted to apply for Harvard Law School.
“Please accept this as my formal Elle Woods-style video application,” Ms. Roberts wrote in the caption. Her TikTok went viral and she is now doing an internship in TikTok’s global business division.
“I didn’t feel like my personality or who I really was was recorded on my résumé,” said Ms. Roberts. TikTok had her demonstrate skills like video editing and public speaking, which might have been positions in a written application, she said, adding, “I’ve had 10 other companies outside of TikTok that said, ‘If they don’t want you, we do.’ “
Many recruiters look beyond standardized applications online or through networking sites like LinkedIn, said Sherveen Mashayekhi, co-founder and chief executive officer of Free Agency, a start-up that focuses on hiring people in the technology industry.
“Cover letters are not read and résumés are unpredictable, so alternative formats are needed,” he said. “For the next five to ten years, it won’t just be video. There will be these other reviews like games for the early stage of the hiring process. “
Some companies said TikTok résumés were a useful way to rate candidates for public positions. Chipotle has posted over 100 vacancies to the app to date to hire restaurant team members, said Tressie Lieberman, the chain’s vice president of digital marketing.
“We cook properly in our restaurants,” she says. “We love to see people’s cooking skills, whether it’s putting chicken on the grill, knife-making or guacamole at home, and bringing those skills to the restaurant.”
World Wrestling Entertainment also uses TikTok for recruiting, said Paul Levesque, WWE executive vice president of global talent strategy and development, better known as wrestler Triple H. He said that video resumes give a better sense of an applicant’s personality is something that the company values.
“It’s a little different for us than a normal office position where you look at someone’s background,” he said. “We are really looking for charisma.”
Shopify, an ecommerce platform, said it started reaching out to TikTok to find engineers.
“There are bright, entrepreneurial technicians everywhere,” said Farhan Thawar, vice president of engineering at Shopify. “We have this thing, if you can’t explain a technical subject to a 5 year old, then you probably don’t understand the subject. So having a medium like TikTok is perfect. “
Other employers asked questions about whether to rely on virality to determine a candidate’s worthiness. Adore Me, a lingerie company, began experimenting with recruiting through TikTok in January. Chloé Chanudet, Adore Me’s chief marketing officer, said she was concerned about who was getting the most coverage on the feed.
“Oversized or black women are more likely not to post their videos or review them for several days,” she said. “We have the same concern that your TikTok résumés may be skewed by the algorithm.”
TikTok said it “does not moderate content based on shape, size or ability”.
Some Generation Z job seekers said they weren’t put off. Christian Medina, 24, an aspiring product manager who graduated from college last year, said he has received six job leads since posting a TikTok video last month seeking a role in product management.
“Finding a job for a recent graduate is nearly impossible, and LinkedIn has not been of great help to me,” he said. “I will definitely continue to use TikTok resumes.”