Maverick Life

SIGN OF THE TIMES

Job hunting, TikTok and the rise of the video CV

Image: Solen Feyissa / Unsplash

Social media giants like TikTok and Facebook are stepping forward as new career-hunting hotspots and are changing the way we prepare for the working world.

Microsoft’s LinkedIn is officially 18 years old and, with its usership currently sitting at 160 million, today it is pegged as the biggest online job advertising platform worldwide”.

Since LinkedIn’s inception in 2003, the internet has exploded with recruitment platforms. Now, job hunting and networking is possible via online platforms like Reddit, Bizcommunity, Facebook and, most recently, TikTok.

TikTok, which boasts a usership of 689 million worldwide, launched a job recruitment pilot project in July this year called TikTok Resumes. From 7 to 31 July, TikTok encouraged the app’s US-based users to “find their dream job” by creating a video resume highlighting their work experience, posting the video using #TikTokResumes, and then heading over to tiktokresumes.com to connect with their favourite brands accepting TikTok Resumes like Chipotle, Target, Shopify, Contra and Movers+Shakers, according to a community news post titled Find a job with TikTok Resumes published by TikTok.

In the same post, TikTok’s global head of marketing Nick Tran describes the pilot as “a new way for job seekers to showcase their experiences and skill sets in creative and authentic ways”, adding, “#CareerTok is already a thriving subculture on the platform and we can’t wait to see how the community embraces TikTok Resumes and helps to reimagine recruiting and job discovery.”

Communications student at the University of Washington Makena Yee unintentionally became the poster child for “TikTok Resumes” as the food and skincare blogger’s CV is the top video to appear in a #TikTok Resume search. In a video just shy of 60 seconds (TikTok’s maximum video length) Yee belts out her education, work experience, skill set and character strengths with absolute conviction. Her clip has been viewed more than 222,000 times.

TikTok launched the pilot project with a TikTok Resumes “how to” clip presented by American-based career consulting company Wonsulting’s CEO, Jonathan Javier.

Although TikTok’s 60-second video limit is currently under review, with an option to extend it to three minutes, Javier runs through four key steps to creating the “perfect resume” within the strict time constraint “to get you in front of employers”. Key steps include listing one’s latest education, work experience, leadership experience, skills and interests.

Pitfalls

While new-age recruitment models like TikTok Resumes have increased the possibility for a CV to cross more eyes, as well as the potential of landing a position, it conversely has made job hunting excruciatingly competitive, especially in a place like South Africa, where over 7.242 million people are jobless.

Professional speaker and business author Douglas Kruger, who is based in the Channel Island of Jersey, says he sees a handful of dangers with the current recruitment dynamic. 

“For starters, many of the social platforms favour boldness and extraversion and the ability to ‘sell yourself’ flamboyantly — not necessarily bad things in and of themselves. But they run the risk of culling introverts and those whose skills do not include presenting, and elevating the outgoing to positions of leadership,” says Kruger.

Kruger adds that while this may not always be the best thing, even given our instinct to trust the socially confident, the flipside is that digital platforms that enable people to pre-package things like video resumes could actually help introverts.

“Surprisingly often, what the introvert most desires is to portray the best version of themselves, and not the pressurised version. The ability to plan, prepare and rehearse ‘backstage’, and then deliver the finest persona when it counts, could be a great boon to many,” he adds.

“With digital communication and footprints increasing, so too are digital and social platforms for job seeking and recruitment. For the once informal sectors this could be a useful process. However, there are many pitfalls and risks involved, like fraud, misrepresentation and fake CVs,” says Rene de Reuck, who has been in recruitment for more than 30 years.

Someone who has become familiar with job recruitment on social media, is the founder of The Resource, Tessa Kleingeld. She remembers landing her first full-time job at a small design studio called The Graphic Ballroom through replying to an advert on BizCommunity.

“It [BizCommunity] was a popular spot to look for jobs in my industry at the time. The ad was posted by Jenny Casper of Fishtank Recruitment. She took me through the details for the position, coached me prior to the interview and acted as the go-between throughout the process, arranging the interviews and providing feedback. She was really supportive and encouraging and I remember it all going very smoothly,” Kleingeld recalls.

In 2015, she embarked on a freelance career. South Africa’s gig economy was still in its infancy. “There weren’t any of the many freelancer recruitment websites that exist today, so, like all freelance staff at the company I started working for as a freelancer I was hired on a referral.”

Kleingeld adds that, at the time, all agencies relied on the few freelancers they knew to connect them with other freelancers in the network, which became time-consuming and difficult for said agencies to find creative talent as it required emailing each freelancer individually until they found someone who was available.

Kleingeld took this conundrum to afterwork drinks one evening with her colleagues.

“The idea came to me during Friday drinks with the team, while discussing this particular issue. Most of the freelance talent was already on Facebook, so using this as our platform to create a community to connect agencies with our collective freelancer network seemed like a natural and simple solution,” she says. By the following Monday, with the goal to match agencies with freelancers more efficiently in a single space, and to nurture the South African economy and reduce the high rate of unemployment within South Africa, The Resource was born.

Today, The Resource is a job board in the form of a private Facebook group for qualified professionals in the South African advertising, media, film and PR industries and since its inception six years ago has grown into a trusted recruitment community consisting of 20,000 members.

“I had no idea it would grow to this extent or become such a huge commitment. Initially it was just good timing and the right choice of platform that got it off to a good start. Now it relies on tight management and hard work by myself and my right-hand woman, Kayli Vee Levitan, to keep it on track,” Kleingeld adds.

In an effort to keep the space as professional as possible, The Resource is a private Facebook group with a clear structure outlining steps to join as well as membership criteria.  

Hiring people off social media, like Facebook, makes a lot of sense for the same reason The Resource took off like it did. 

“It’s much less effort to join a group on a platform they visit multiple times a day than to scroll through a number of separate job sites. They are also able to get direct referrals from other businesses who have worked with specific freelancers, so there’s the added benefit of trust,” Kleingeld says.

Using Facebook has also allowed Kleingeld to create a freelancer community support system, called The Resource Creative Forum — a space where members can get advice on salaries or employment and troubleshoot issues with their peers.

Yet, Kleingeld acknowledges that social platforms, especially Facebook, have a way to go to make the recruitment process safer and seamless.

“While referrals definitely add an element of credibility, there’s less accountability for both clients and candidates than on job platforms such as LinkedIn, which actively works towards restricting the creation of fake accounts. At the same time, Facebook is mostly a social tool, so jobseekers are less likely to have a professional presence on the platform to back up their credentials, something that is the main focus on LinkedIn,” she observes.

Kleingeld also expresses her worry at the potential for exclusion attached to online recruitment models like TikTok Resumes.“Tik Tok takes it to another level with video resumes, which means that jobseekers will need to put in even more effort to stand out. While this may be appealing to some of their Gen-Z target market, if it takes off, it may be another barrier to entry for many South Africans who are not able to afford the smartphones and tech needed to create something that looks professional. I feel that it could also potentially open up candidates to various forms of discrimination.”

She adds that online recruitment platforms are not only changing the way we need to prepare for the working world but that these platforms are also redefining what it means to have a digital social presence. 

“By bringing recruitment tools into social media spaces, jobseekers need to consider how their personal content can affect the way they are perceived by potential employers. At the very least there should be some rigorous checks on privacy settings if their profiles aren’t squeaky clean. Previously we could separate our work and personal personas, but these lines have been blurring for some time now,” she says.

Despite the fast-paced, competitive nature of the contemporary working world, De Reuck points to the fact that formal recruitment still warrants professional processes within large, complex, global companies and the risks of not following a professional recruitment and selection process could prove irreparably destructive to a business or company.

“The formal sector, including manufacturing, logistics, management positions, key operational positions and executive positions, will continue employing processes, protocols and standard procedures which comply with international, commercial and employment legislation.

“The risk and cost of appointing the wrong person, without having done due diligence such as references on work, skill, terms and person and verification of qualifications, is very high,” De Reuck adds.

Kruger also believes that recruitment patterns will remain broadly the same even as the reach changes to more international norms.

“Human beings are wired to trust in the ‘someone who knows someone’ dynamic, and that won’t go away in a hurry. It worked more readily in face-to-face environments, which is why I don’t believe we can sustain a pure online work environment indefinitely. We are social beings, after all. Humans are greatly stimulated by other humans, and we need that cup of coffee with a friend,” he notes. DM/ML

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