While TikTok was the topic of last week in Congress regarding data privacy concerns, the social media platform keeps booming. It has more than 1 billion monthly active users, with reportedly solid reach to users in the U.S. from ages 18 and up.
That audience has been embraced by recruiters, who are using TikTok to find job candidates. For the right roles, a solid TikTok campaign can get workers “in the apply funnel,” said Alexandra Anema, director of social media at Bayard Advertising. All kinds of companies are using TikTok for recruiting, she added, from giants like Target “all the way down to mom and pop places that are getting a ton of visibility.”
But the key to leveraging a TikTok audience is the right campaign for the right kind of job. Recruiters most often need to work within the confines of TikTok’s paid promotion platform, which can be more limiting than on other platforms.
Here’s what you need to know.
Working with the algorithm to drive organic engagement
Like most social media networks, TikTok users can garner attention organically, or through paid promotions. Organic can be effective, but “it’s a real commitment and you have to post regularly because that is how the algorithm works. You have to keep feeding it,” Anema said. Smaller businesses that find success on TikTok are still often putting work into creating videos, and a lot of them. “Not every company has the time to do that.”
One workaround — or strategy to work with TikTok’s algorithm — is to partner with influencers, said William Stonehouse, co-founder and president of Crawford Thomas Recruiting. Companies can leverage that built-in audience by working with influencers who will “promote content about what It’s like to work with a certain company,” he said.
Companies can also work with employees who have TikTok followings already. Emily Durham, for example, is a TikTok creator with more than 200,000 followers who also happens to be a senior recruiter for Intuit. She posts all kinds of videos, from dating advice to info on job interviews. She’s not exactly pushing content about working for Intuit, but her presence still lifts the company’s profile.
“Having a social presence has been a game changer for me from a professional perspective,” Durham told CNBC in January. “Probably half of the candidates that I reach out to have responded with, ‘Oh my god, I follow you on TikTok,’ especially with early career talent or when I’m recruiting for other HR roles at Intuit.”
Making the most of paid promotions
For paid promotions, TikTok only allows users to choose one interest, which can be limiting, Anema said. “If you’re looking to hire a veterinarian, you might be able to choose ‘animals’ but not ‘veterinary.’”
That doesn’t mean paid promotions can’t work. They can be especially effective in hiring for entry-level roles, to grab attention and lead someone into the recruiting process.
For example, Bayard Advertising is currently working with a fast food chain by creating short narrative videos about what it’s like to work there. It’s “putting the message out and really talking about things that they do as an organization that sets them apart from their competitors,” she said. They’re also doing videos showcasing how the company’s educational programs have impacted employees.
Like with any social media platform, what works for each company is going to depend on who they are trying to hire, and in what role. While their fast food campaign has been highly effective, the same approach may not work for executive search, for example, she said.
TikTok can be “supplemental to a very strong social strategy, but don’t put all of your eggs into one basket,” she added. “Examine where you want to put your dollars and where your audience is spending their time.”
Companies should also be aware that potential job candidates are going to be looking at a brand’s social media platforms when doing their own research — including TikTok, especially with Gen Z candidates — so it can benefit an enterprise to have TikTok videos about work culture, said Stonehouse. When recruiting for an office job, a candidate might look for videos about a day in the life of that office. These videos “can be a good way for companies to project their culture and values.”