TikTok users and content creators have developed a reputation for redefining everything from entertainment and fashion, to dance, and even political discourse (who can forget how hundreds of teenage TikTok users banded together to purchase the lion's share of tickets at a Trump rally in Tulsa in order to help ensure the venue remained mostly empty?).
Now, the platform has set its sights on a new space: job applications and the recruitment process—which, if truth be told could use a bit of modernization and rethinking anyway. In an announcement made earlier this month, the platform launched "TikTok Resumes," a pilot program aimed at, in the brand's words, "enhancing TikTok as a new channel for recruitment and job discovery."
Yes, you read that right: TikTok is branching into showcasing resumes, perhaps aiming to be the LinkedIn of a much hipper generation.
OK, so there's a lot to unpack here. But first the basics.
What is a TikTok video resume exactly?
As part of this pilot effort, TikTok is teaming up with select companies and inviting job seekers to apply for everything from entry-level jobs to highly experienced positions at these partner companies—a few of which are household names such as Target, Chipotle, and Shopify. Currently, only opportunities in the United States are being showcased through this new job application channel.
When making the announcement, TikTok brand reps said they believe there's an opportunity to "bring more value to people's experience with TikTok by enhancing the utility of the platform as a channel for recruitment." (This is, of course, aside from all of the lucrative gigs that TikTok's most well-known influencers have already been landing.)
Now for the million-dollar question you're all probably pondering: What exactly does a TikTok resume involve?
According to TikTok brand reps, the "video resumes can be used to creatively and authentically showcase" your skillsets and experiences. TikTok has also helpfully rolled out a "Dos and Don'ts of TikTok resumes" explainer video—which more than a few readers out there are likely to want to spend some time perusing.
There's also further guidance in TikTok's FAQs about the new video resume program, in which brand reps recommend that users simply "showcase their elevator pitch" in their video resume. And if you want (need) still more inspiration, check out some of the resume samples already posted on TikTok by the brave souls who didn't waste a moment taking advantage of the new opportunity. Just search the app using #TikTokResumes.
Ramifications and considerations of TikTok video resumes
If all of this sounds more than a little intimidating, rest assured you're probably not alone. Let's begin with the challenges of presenting yourself meaningfully and professionally to an employer in a brief TikTok video.
"It kind of forces you to be focused and to be as creative as possible in a very short amount of time," explains Brie Reynolds, career development manager and coach for FlexJobs and Remote.co. "Even the standard elevator pitch that career coaches have talked about for several decades now is at least a few minutes long. These videos are even shorter than that."
Presenting yourself in a compelling way in a mere 30 seconds is one of the potentially challenging points about this new avenue for job seeking. Developing a polished on-camera presence is another.
Reynolds herself has watched a few of the already posted TikTok resumes, and says there are definitely those who shine and those who…well, let's just say they need work.
"You can definitely tell when someone has practiced and or when they have experience creating any sort of video," explains Reynolds. "They come across really good, personable, poised, fast, and they come across as confident and understanding what they have offer as a professional." Got all of that?
Now for the broader implications: If video resumes of this type become an approach that spreads and takes hold in the recruitment process more widely, there's also the potential for rampant age discrimination. TikTok, however, must have seen this criticism coming, because the website's imagery on the video resume page includes a picture front and center of an individual who's clearly on the upper end of the age spectrum.
"There are some considerations about whether this could foster discrimination related to gender, sex, race, or age—all of the things we worry about, in general, as career coaches, those definitely come up here," continues Reynolds. "Ageism, in particular, is one that comes to mind. I work with a lot of older clients, and they're definitely concerned. This is not in their wheelhouse."
This is not an entirely new debate. Before videos came along, plenty of folks met controversy by putting their headshots on traditional resumes (the acting and modeling professions aside of course). And even with photos, the issue of potential bias and discrimination loomed large among recruiters.
"There has long been this question of, should I include a picture on a resume? The answer is no—because of the discriminatory aspect of what an employer might or might not infer based on the picture. And a lot of employers have said they simply won't consider resumes with pictures because they don't want to be swayed by unconscious bias," explains Reynolds. "The same is true with a TikTok video resume; we need to be careful about how it is being used."
When a TikTok video resume might make sense
Even with the inherent drawbacks, Reynolds admits there are certainly some professions in which a TikTok video resume just might come in handy or help set you apart from the competition. She predicts creative fields, such as digital marketing or social media management, will be likely to embrace this development, while more traditional fields of employment (think engineering, doctor, lawyer) will likely shy away.
And intriguingly, for those who have had a less traditional or linear career path, the TikTok video resume may just help overcome potential hiring obstacles, posits Reynolds.
"For some people, a video resume does have pros as well. If you're someone with an unconventional career history, the TikTok video resume could help you more easily explain that different path in a way that a traditional resume might not be able to do as artfully," she says.
And finally, the all-important question: Will it truly be possible to land a lucrative job with a TikTok video resume?
Reynolds says it's certainly a distinct possibility. She offers this anecdotal explanation about why that might be the case.
"We do see on Flexjobs when searching by the word 'TikTok' that there are a lot of different job openings that require knowledge of TikTok or require being a TikTok user. Also in creative fields, such as director of product, digital marketing director, or digital video production, if you can show that you have really strong TikTok skills, it can definitely go a long way," says Reynolds. "It's like a work sample and could add some benefit to your application and take you out of the resume pile."
Many of the jobs Reynolds is referencing, according to data provided by FlexJobs, pay anywhere from $52,00 to $140,000 annually. In other words: Time to start polishing up those TikTok skills.