Can TikTok Boost Your Hiring and Employer Brand Strategies?

By Robert Half on November 23, 2021 at 10:00am

Whoever said “dance like nobody’s watching” clearly never used TikTok. The short-form video-sharing platform invites users to dance, lip-sync and perform hair-raising stunts in front of a staggering 1 billion active users, making it the world’s most downloaded app.

As TikTok’s popularity surges, so do the incentives for businesses to use it as a recruitment and branding tool. But if you’re a busy hiring manager already pushing content to YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook, do you really need to worry about another channel?

Before deciding either way, you need to understand what makes TikTok tick.

What’s special about TikTok?

For novices, TikTok seems like a free-for-all where everyone is doing their own zany thing. But the more you watch, the more you realize that the app is driven by trends ranging from multistep dance moves to failed attempts to pronounce the word “chipotle” (a phenomenon successfully leveraged by the restaurant brand of the same name on its TikTok feed).

Originality is still valued on TikTok, but much of the most popular content riffs on what’s already hot or trending. Understanding that is vital if you want to use TikTok for branding and to boost your efforts to recruit new employees. Unless you’re steeped in TikTok culture, the content you produce may come across as incongruous or inauthentic. So, who can you tap to help you out?

Boosting your employer brand with employee ambassadors

Around 80% of TikTok’s estimated 80 million active users in the United States are between the ages of 16 to 34. That means if your workforce skews young, there’s every chance you have some TikTok-ers on your payroll. How can you turn this to your advantage?

One idea is to encourage employees to create brand-related content, either on their personal accounts or via a corporate TikTok feed you create. Workers at a sportswear company might share their fitness activities, for example, while graphic designers at an art agency could show off some works-in-progress. Some of the best corporate content doesn’t feel “corporate” at all but simply exhibits employees’ creative or collaborative skills — a dance competition, for example, where different teams compete for a prize.

This kind of employee advocacy can boost your company’s brand and act as a powerful indirect hiring tool. Candidates trust their peers, and if they see potential colleagues happy and engaged in the workplace, it could prompt them to apply for a position. Just make sure you update your social media policy to include how employees should conduct themselves on TikTok.

Recruiting on TikTok

A great employer brand will help you attract great candidates, but you still need the right outreach tools to get your message across. Is TikTok a worthy addition to your toolkit?

Yes, if approached cautiously. TikTok gives you the chance to reach an audience that doesn’t spend much time on LinkedIn or online job boards. With the current shortage of skilled talent available for hire, many companies are looking for tech-savvy early-career or entry-level professionals who they can train on the job — a demographic that overlaps with TikTik’s core user base.

Hiring managers also benefit from TikTok’s powerful algorithms, which ensure the content users see is tailored to their location and interests. If you’re recruiting for a JavaScript coder in Atlanta, for example, you can reach potential candidates by adding hashtags like #georgia, #javascript and #opentowork to your videos.

TikTok itself is leaning into the idea of becoming a hiring tool. The company recently piloted a program called TikTok Resumes, which encourages job seekers to talk about their skills and experience in a short video.

But this is where recruiting on TikTok becomes problematic. Human resources teams use various techniques to eliminate unconscious bias when screening written resumes, but evaluating a video resume objectively can be challenging. And, in the worst-case scenario, a candidate could file a lawsuit against your firm if they believe you judged their video resume based on looks, age or race — or any other physical factors that wouldn’t show up on a written resume.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t use TikTok for candidate outreach. But do proceed with caution. Like all social media platforms, TikTok can have ethical and regulatory implications as well as creative ones.

Know this: Great TikToks take time

If you do decide to make TikTok part of your employer brand or recruiting strategy, don’t skimp on time and resources. The irony of TikTok is that it can take hours of meticulous planning to create something that appears spontaneous.

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