Trouble finding talent? Here’s how some businesses are using TikTok for recruiting


When they were seeking an intern in 2021, the Detroit Pistons turned to a unique platform: TikTok.

The NBA franchise was an early adopter of TikTok resumes — a pilot program by the social media company aimed at creating a new channel to connect entry-level applicants with employers.

Experts say small-business owners who are frustrated at their lack of candidates would be wise to give the platform a try in this environment.

They say the dance- and trend-driven social media app popular with Generation Z and others could be a good way for small-business owners to not just build their brand and attract prospective workers. Business owners need all the hiring help they can get, with about 11.3 million job openings in January and a quit rate near all-time highs at about 2.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So how can small-business owners get started?

Justin Kline, co-founder of influencer marketing firm Markerly, said TikTok is an extremely visual platform, and small-business owners need to embrace that and show off their business.

“Show off what a typical work day might look like. Make it pop. Make it fun. Get your existing employees involved. Let the viewers see them enjoying their jobs. Be sure to mention that you’re looking for new employees, and let them know how they can contact you,” Kline said.
That means identifying trends on TikTok and participating in them, Kline said.

“Nothing says a fun place to work like a business willing to have a good time on TikTok. You’ll likely find a lot of interested perspective employees when you start showing off how fun you can be,” Kline said.
Sean Behr, CEO of San Francisco-based, high-volume hiring technology Fountain, said companies need to think about different segments of workers and what platforms they might be on, including TikTok. He said companies might want to offer referral bonuses to workers who attract new talent through posts on their own personal social media accounts.

More advice from experts include:

  • Tell your company’s story: Make sure potential employees know why you started the business and give them insight into your vision. That makes small-business owners more personable and more human, rather than just another place to work and get a paycheck, Kline said.
  • Use hashtags: #SmallBusiness has 55 billion views on TikTok. Be sure to use hashtags for your city and town to help attract a local audience, Kline said.
  • Consider paid advertising: That’s not to suggest giving up on normal, organic posts. But paid ads often have a more consistent and predictable return than the variable nature of traditional posting, Behr said.
  • Get employees involved: “Your employees are your best advocates. Encourage them to help build out your social recruiting strategy by asking them to post on their personal accounts,” Behr said.
  • Don’t be ordinary. Make sure users see your business as unique. Get them excited about your business. “All it takes is the flick of a thumb to scroll past your video, so make those first few seconds count. Show your product or service in action,” Kline said.
  • Actually use TikTok: This might go without saying, but business owners should download the app and live the user experience, said Jason Palmer, CEO and co-founder of talent engagement system Bear Claw. Understand the basics of how the app works and research relevant hashtags while figuring out what content you like and why.

“Small-business owners need to [post] appealing value propositions that appeal to Generation Z. Enticing value propositions geared toward a company’s culture, purpose or role-specific-benefits will gain the attention of potential candidates,” Palmer said in an email.

“TikToks are a great way for a company to make an impression on potential candidates without incurring additional costs.”

Small-business owners might not see much relief soon, as the labor shortage is worsened by long-term demographic shifts that will play out over years. That ongoing labor shortage has meant small-business owners across the country have had to increasingly pony up for workers. About 50% of small-business owners said they raised pay over the last three months, according to separate survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, a 48-year high.

Small businesses are also finding themselves increasingly competing with big companies when it comes to salaries. Tech giant Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) made headlines recently when it doubled its base pay cap to $350,000. KPMG US recently rolled out a $160 million pay raise and a host of new or expanded benefits.

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