How can TikTok perfect your Gen Z hiring strategy?

Annie Jackson, Head of Talent at Cleo, explains how to get the most from the social platform
Annie Jackson
Headshot of Annie Jackson, head of talent at Cleo

Generation Z is in the building. By 2025, young adults born between the mid-90s and 2010 will make up nearly a third of the global workforce. They’re purportedly the most diverse generation in history – so how on earth should companies go about recruiting them?

Digital engagement is a must when it comes to hiring Gen Z. This generation has grown up in the digital age and has little experience or conception of the pre-social media world. But the digital arena is vast, and Gen Zs don’t tend to frequent the same platforms – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – as their older professional peers.

Case in point is TikTok. With nearly 500 million users aged between 18 and 24, TikTok is now the de facto way to engage with young adults.

The good news is that TikTok gives you a unique way to showcase what makes your company a great place to work. The bad news is that it’s not as simple as recording a few videos and watching as applications flood in. Get your TikTok strategy wrong and you risk alienating this discerning audience.

In today’s hyper-competitive jobs market, how can you harness the power of TikTok to successfully engage with Gen Z talent?

Showcase your company culture

Many young adults would be genuinely alarmed to hear that, in days gone by, new recruits only got a sense of what it was like to work in a company after taking the job and showing up in the office. The world has moved on, and Gen Zs expect to be shown behind-the-scenes insight into your culture before they even apply for a role.

Savvy organisations are making TikTok videos that showcase their office space, talk to team members and even feature company social events, all to demonstrate what it might be like to work for the organisation. They’re able to convey their brand identity in an engaging, visual way, and find candidates who are aligned with their culture.

Of course, workplace videos are nothing new, but the short-form TikTok platform lends itself to less staged, more authentic insight. Google does this well, empowering some of its employees to show users what day to day life is like, from collaborating with colleagues to working at one of Google’s many conferences. To succeed on TikTok, you’ll need to follow Google’s lead and move away from the slick corporate video to something more natural and relatable.

Demonstrate your mission

Pay is important, but purpose is crucial. Gen Z candidates want to work for companies who are changing the world. They value impact-driven organisations who vocally champion the causes they’re passionate about. And they’re unlikely to read the lengthy ESG strategy document on your corporate website.

TikTok offers a different approach – a chance to show that the work you’re carrying out has purpose, and/or supports other purposeful activities. The team at TikTok itself is providing great inspiration here through its @lifeattiktok account. Its account features Q&As with current staff (such as product managers and software designers) about their personal work motivations and the extensive opportunities for innovation and growth at the organisation.

Your ultimate goal is to persuade Gen Zs that the advertised role will give them the chance to make a real difference – and what better way to do this than to create TikToks showing other, similar people who are already walking the walk.

TikTok content has to feel ‘real’

Gen Z candidates are all about authenticity – they’re far more likely to engage with brands and organisations that appear ‘real’ and genuine, and, crucially, avoid looking like they are trying too hard.

Burberry is a good example of a company getting it right, posting not just videos of its iconic clothes, but behind-the-scenes outtakes at fashion shows, snippets from its expert team, and playful videos such as the viral clip of a logo-covered Burberry ‘pasta.’ As Alex Whitlock, global social media director at Burberry, put it in a recent interview: “Authenticity shows. You won’t have success on TikTok if you don’t use it yourself.”

A great way to ensure your content is authentic and relatable is to work with Gen Z team members to double check that what you want to post resonates with them, before you share it with the wider world. Don’t have any? Consider engaging with social media agencies or consultants who are experts in the field.

Find and assess potential candidates quickly

Gen Z is increasingly using TikTok as a search engine to scout out potential roles and follow topics like #graduatejobs and #jobsinthemedia.

But they’re also using the platform to promote themselves and connect with employers proactively – for example, through features like TikTok Resumes where users can post creative videos that showcase their skills and experience. We’ve even seen candidates list their TikTok usernames (and follower numbers) on their traditional CVs, encouraging potential employers to check them out on the social channel.

As well as searching for candidates with resumes on TikTok, you might even want to make the platform part of the interview process, helping you assess potential hires before you even meet. For example, Coca-Cola turned its recruiting process into a game on TikTok. To join the Coca-Cola team, users had to take part in an interactive challenge and tell them how they would promote Coke Zero – all within 30 seconds. In a similar vein, at Cleo, content creators are asked to make a TikTok video to test their ability to respond to a brief and give them a chance to showcase their creative thinking.

Embrace TikTok or risk losing out on talent

The benefits of using TikTok as a recruitment tool are plentiful – not least because, when you only have a short period of time to get your point across (many TikToks are just 15 seconds), you have to prioritise creating something immediate and impactful.

Of course, the value of TikTok depends on the types of roles that you’re hiring for, but building a company TikTok presence can help diversify your Gen Z hiring strategy and give audiences unique insight into your amazing company culture.

Written by
Annie Jackson
Head of Talent at Cleo
November 10, 2022