Exciting new technologies and recruitment strategies are giving job hunters the opportunity to establish human connections with the companies they interview with.
On July 7, TikTok announced a new initiative: TikTok resumes. Companies could post their job listings on a special TikTok portal, where interested users could apply by making a video version of their resumes.
The new feature, which finished its pilot program on July 31, formalized something the younger generation of users had already been doing: using TikTok videos to stand out in job applications, like TikTok’s very own intern Jenna Palek, whose video about wanting to work at TikTok landed her the job back in the spring of 2020. A year and half later, after the pandemic turned the job hunt virtual, technology and social media-based hiring is the norm, and recent college grads are navigating a totally different job market.
“The overall quality of job applications has been taken to the next level,” Rosie McCarthy of Badass Careers says over email. “It’s a hyper competitive market and mediocre resumes with template cover letters simply don’t get the time of day. We are seeing a rise of sleek, succinct, and powerfully worded resumes (that look good, too) and cover letters that really work to sell your story, establish a human connection to the company or mission and show off your personality.”
TikTok was not the first place to emphasize the importance of social media in the hiring process. As early as 2017, 84% of organizations told SHRM that they were recruiting via social media, and with Gen Z expected to make up 60 million job seekers in the next ten years, this may grow even more. By 2025, they’ll likely make up 27% of the job force, meaning one out of every four applicants will have been raised on social media and fluent in the ways it can be used to get noticed by employers.
“I genuinely think I must have applied to hundreds if not thousands of different jobs [in the past 1.5 years],” Rosie Harris-Saunders, a 23-year-old from London, says over email. Harris-Saunders recently landed a job as a social media coordinator at Selfridges after going viral on TikTok for her application to a totally different job.
It’s not just TikTok where people are making digital career moves. Modern technology provides infinite ways for job seekers to stand out to employers in the extremely competitive job market. Whether you’re networking on apps, utilizing QR codes, or going viral, the internet can be a job seeker’s playground. Here are some of the ways current job hunters have found success online.
Make a video resume
“Video resumes (and video screening technology on the employer’s side) have been around for well over a decade now, but they’ve always been quite clunky to use, meaning they’ve never really gone mainstream,” McCarthy says. However, all that changed this summer with the introduction of TikTok resumes.
The TikTok Resume initiative prompted users to make videos about their career experiences hashtagging #TikTokResume to send to employers who were participating in the app’s pilot program. While the first round is over, companies like 100 Thieves, a lifestyle brand and gaming organization, are still seeking TikTok Resumes to find new interns.
“Hi, my name is Selina and I’m a content creator,” Selina Lui begins her video application for the role. She then includes clips that show examples of her video editing skills and explains that she’s teaching herself how to code. Finally, Lui comes up with 100 reasons why she should be an 100 Theives intern, and displays them on the screen.
“I’ve always been a gamer and when one of the biggest gaming organizations came out with an amazing opportunity, I couldn’t pass on the chance to apply,” 21-year-old Lui tells us over email. “Video resumes are more creative and more effective in a way where you can showcase your personality a little more. A traditional resume shows more of your experience, but not so much personality.”
Creator Selina Lui fez um CV no TikTok para uma vaga em 100 Thieves
“You have to be mindful of the fact that that can invite a lot of bias,” she says over Zoom. With a traditional resume, employers can only make hiring decisions based on experience. Video resumes are much more personal, and can invite even subconscious judgement based on physical attributes, like race. “[That’s] the reason why people are hesitant to even participate in application processes where they have to upload any kind of video. [Employers] are limiting the pool. If you’re saying ‘apply through TikTok,’ [what if] the person is not comfortable?”
However, if an applicant is comfortable in front of the camera—which McCarthy notes is more and more people these days—then Jackie Cuevas, a creator who makes informative content for job seekers, says you can use video to better showcase your relevant skills.
“I do love the idea of incorporating photos and clips to make the video resume more entertaining to potential companies!” she says over email. “This can also help emphasize your experience too because employers can visually see the work you’ve done in past internships, positions, or projects, and not just read it from your resume.”
Get your application to go viral
When Harris-Saunders interviewed for a position with bakery company Bad Brownie, she later submitted a sample social media post. The company decided to put it on their Instagram and see how it performed. To ensure its success, Harris-Saunders turned to TikTok, asking viewers to interact with the post. While she didn’t have a large following, the video ended up going viral. Over two million people viewed her TikTok, resulting in 331,000 views, 177,000 likes, and over 50,000 comments on the Instagram sample, Harris-Saunders says. In fact, Bad Brownie had to turn off comments because so many users were flooding in with support for Harris-Saunders.
Before Harris-Saunders could follow up with Bad Brownie about her application, another company got to her first. Selfridges reached out after seeing her viral application, and ended up hiring her as a their new social media coordinator.
“They told me they were looking for somebody who was super creative and of course had to love food,” Harris-Saunders says. “I think this whole situation has also proven to companies that I truly understand how to use social media and how to create reactive content, which is sometimes hard to communicate within an interview or through a test task.”
Creator Rosie Harris-Saunders’ video application went viral on TikTok—and got her hired.
While going viral is a surefire way to get as many eyeballs as possible, it has to be done thoughtfully.
“It’s important to be on brand,” Byezhanova says. “It’s important to first dig deep and understand, what are my core values? What are my four descriptors? How do I want to be perceived? Because you can’t be everything to everyone.”
However, Harris-Saunders says applications should “1000%” use social media to help themselves stand out.
“Even if you just make a fake Instagram account for a company as an example of what you could do, especially if the job is based around social media, I think it’s the best tool to use,” she says. “I have a business Instagram account which I use as a mood board/portfolio, and also use it to reach out to brands and I’ve landed a couple of freelance jobs from doing so. Platforms like TikTok must not be underestimated. The potential is huge!”
Use Linktree to supplement your resume
In our digital-first world, paper resumes alone aren’t enough when many applicants’ relevant clips and experiences are entirely online. For example, a journalist’s resume will list their responsibilities as a staff editor but it does not show the various clips that person has written. Similarly, a graphic designer with an extensive online portfolio can credit where they have been published on their resume but they cannot show the art they have created. Linktree changes all that.
By linking to published clips, design portfolios, featured videos, and more of your achievements online in one place, a hiring manager can see a prospective employee’s accomplishments far more clearly than a written resume could. Because Linktree allows you to have unlimited links, you could direct potential employers to various social media profiles, too. In some cases, you don’t even have to link out: Linktree allows for music, video, and design embeds right on your page. It’s the creative version of a paper resume. Why list your professional accomplishments when you can bring them to life?
Even more helpful, Linktree’s analytics tools can tell you which links people are clicking on most to help make sure you’re providing the most desirable information and compelling clips.
Attach a QR Code to your paper resume
Adding a QR code to your resume allows potential employers to easily access your digital work, especially if you’re going through the hiring process IRL. A QR code is a barcode image made up of pixelated information that can be scanned by a smartphone camera to send you to a digital destination on a phone. By adding your barcode image to your resume, a hiring manager can easily scan it and view whatever online link you’ve attached to it—your Linktree, your blog, your social media, or any other piece of media that supports your experience.
This doesn’t mean QR codes are necessary. In fact, Byezhanova cautions against including them if it doesn’t make sense with your brand.
“If you’re not a tech person, if you’re not working in a field that has anything to do with anything techie or anything creative or anything innovative and you just decide to put it, it’s going to look silly,” she says. “If you’re applying for work in a very traditional industry, something more old school, it’s not going to help you stand out. It’s just gonna help you eliminate yourself.”
However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be helpful in the right industries.
“I do see the benefit of it, especially for those in the creative field,” Cuevas says. “I think adding it to your portfolio or website is a nice touch!”
Use networking apps to make professional connections
While Bumble may have started as a dating app, the company launched Bumble Bizz in 2017 as a place for professionals to connect with others in their field, get advice, and maybe even meet their next employer.
“When I say networking people cringe, because how we view networking, knocking on people’s doors with a request or a need, is broken,” Byezhanova says. “The most helpful thing in networking is to reframe it from asking for things, knocking on people’s doors, to meeting people. And when you’re meeting people, you don’t lead with anything you need.”
Bumble Bizz isn’t the only option. LinkedIn is the best-known social media for job hunters, and other apps like Lunchclub and Fishbowl are similarly geared to match users with those who can help them succeed in their respective industries.
“Before blindly joining all of the networks and spreading yourself too thin, I would recommend picking one and doubling down on it,” McCarthy says. “Choose one platform where you are most likely to find your people, then get involved and leverage it to the max, rather than being a silent lurker on several networks.”
For creative fields, like social media, digital production, video and more, the rise of technology-fueled hiring allows for employers to better connect with potential employees and for applicants to better share their relevant skills.
“It’s a more progressive way to demonstrate and highlight your skills and experience and you’re able to showcase your enthusiasm and personality,” Cuevas notes.
However, while professional headhunters all emphasize the importance of using these tools thoughtfully, focusing on which ones can actually elevate your job application versus what may be seen as distracting to recruiters. For those in creative and innovative fields, video resumes, viral stunts, and incorporating tech like QR codes into your application are a great way to directly showcase your understanding of the industry and stand out as more and more applicants join the workforce.