TikTok resumes: Gen Z's innovative approach to job hunting

Sep 27, 2023

4 mins

TikTok resumes: Gen Z's innovative approach to job hunting
Emma Albright

French/American freelance journalist based in Paris, France.

The world of work is constantly changing and it’s no surprise Gen Z job hunters are turning to new platforms to try and stand out in the over-competitive job market. Using their digital knowledge and creative innovation, Gen Z is using social media—particularly TikTok—to change the resume game.

Traditional resumes, with their black-and-white text and bullet points, are no longer the only way of presenting your qualifications when applying for a job. While they’re still mandatory in many industries, Gen Z job hunters are realizing that the ever-evolving digital world now needs a more dynamic approach to self-presentation—and TikTok is the perfect contender. Gen Z job hunters are using this platform to their advantage by creating innovative, visually engaging, and succinct video resumes that showcase their skills, personality, and creativity.

But this new trend raises a lot of questions: What are the advantages of a video resume? Do these resumes actually work? Will employers consider a TikTok resume to the same level as any other resume?

Are TikTok resumes a good idea?

There are many advantages to the TikTok resume like the simple visual appeal, which can include snippets of past work, giving employers a more concrete look into the candidate’s skills and personality.

Another positive aspect of making a resume on TikTok is the conciseness. With predefined time constraints, TikTok forces users to go straight to the point. Personal branding consultant, Melanie Denny, explains how effective short videos can be: “You’re forced to really emphasize the things you want to say quicker. It forces you to think, ‘What is the most important thing I want to say in a concise manner?’”

Denny also shares that she would definitely be interested in receiving a TikTok resume. “If someone sent me a TikTok video, that means they know about TikTok and how to use it, which already shows some marketing skills.”

Jonathan Javier, CEO of Wonsulting, helps people from non-traditional backgrounds enter the workforce. He helps those who do not necessarily have many connections try and stand out: “You sometimes have to go through the non-traditional measures and ask yourself, ‘How do I build my brand on Linkedin or TikTok where people will find me?’”

Wonsulting is one point one of the biggest accounts for career advice on TikTok and in May 2021, the social media platform reached out to them saying they were launching TikTok resumes. “We did a TikTok live where there were about 3,000 or 5,000 people who joined just talking about how to make the perfect resume and then how to submit on TikTok resumes.”

It’s definitely a useful tool for extroverted people who are camera-ready and prepared to put themselves out there. But even if you’re introverted and are not willing to put yourself on TikTok, Javier explains that the social media platform is a good tool to look for jobs, too.

Furthermore, Job hunters can tailor TikTok resumes for specific industries or roles. For instance, a graphic designer can showcase their portfolio, while a marketing professional might highlight their successful campaigns.

The TikTok resume debate: To dare or not to dare?

Historically, the idea of including your photo on your resume was widely discouraged. In Denny’s experience, her advice to clients was to exclude photos as they could potentially open up liability and allow room for discrimination in the hiring process.

However, with TikTok resumes, this changes, especially for roles in marketing and communication because the recruiter “will be able to see how you communicate and what your personality is like.” A video also reveals how you speak, how you come across, your mannerisms, and generally how you showcase yourself, “all of which you cannot get on a document.” While some may argue that this again opens up a door for discrimination, what’s clear is it allows recruiters to get a more in-depth view of the applicant.

Lisa Rangel, founder and managing director of Chameleon Resumes, an executive resume-writing and job-landing consulting firm, is skeptical about the creative process that goes behind such videos. She says, “Creativity without purpose is not useful. Being creative within the confines of the purpose of a resume—to inform a hiring manager why they should bring you for an interview—is the best way to be different”.

Javier, on the other hand, emphasizes how a TikTok resume allows you to specifically target the company you want to work for in a creative manner. It’s not just about making a video, it’s about using the tools to create something professionally appealing.

Rangel also discusses the fact that recruiters “like simple layouts so they can read the content and assess the info they need from the resume easily.” She advises against highly graphical resumes because they can be “distracting to the human eye and not digestible to applicant tracking systems (ATS) that HR departments use to house candidate resumes.” Globally, she encourages job hunters to prepare user-friendly resumes that are easy to read.

All in all, whether or not you use TikTok to create your resume really depends on the company you are applying to. Some will welcome new formats of resumes and some will prefer the usual format. It’s up to you to decide if such a creative format is best for the job you’re applying to.

Building a personal brand

What matters when applying to jobs is your personal brand. For Denny, personal branding is at the core of the TikTok resume trend. It’s about intentionally “shaping how others perceive you to achieve specific outcomes.” In the context of job searching, personal branding involves positioning yourself as an expert in your field, using industry jargon, sharing relevant stories and experiences, and showcasing your unique qualities.

The emergence of TikTok resumes signifies a shift in how Gen Z approaches job hunting. While traditional resumes remain essential, these innovative video resumes offer a unique way to capture attention and make a memorable first impression.

As Gen Z continues to reshape the workforce, it’s likely we’ll see even more creative approaches to job hunting in the future. If you’re a Gen Z job hunter looking to stand out, don’t be afraid to branch out and show the world what makes you the perfect fit for your dream job, 15-60 seconds at a time. But don’t forget, do whatever makes you feel comfortable when applying for a job. Staying true to yourself and what you want to showcase remains the most important.

Photo: Welcome to the Jungle

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