Woman filming her video resume for TikTok on her Iphone

Since the dawn of time, or, at least, since the invention of pen and paper, people seeking work have utilized basically the same process in the job application procedure. They write a resume and a cover letter and send them to an employer. Just as the method job seekers use to apply for jobs hasn’t changed very much, the traditional resume hasn’t either.

The typewriter replaced the pen, and the computer replaced the typewriter. Email replaced hand-delivered resumes, and online job search boards replaced email. But the format of resumes has remained essentially the same: writing or typing your employment history, education, key skills, and why you’re a good fit for the job. That is…until TikTok Resumes.

What is a TikTok Resume?

TikTok recently came out with a video resume format called TikTok Resumes that allows job-seeking candidates to present their resumes to prospective employers entirely by video. TikTok Resumes provides applicants a way to not only share key skills, employment history, and education, it gives them the opportunity to do it in a more personal, creative, and expressive way.

The maximum time limit for a post is only three minutes, though, making it somewhat of a challenge for posters to convince employers of their knowledge, skills, and abilities in that amount of time. Regardless of the potential drawbacks, video resumes could be the wave of the future and not only a passing trend. In other words, employers might be willing to embrace and utilize video resumes in their hiring process rather than be more inclined to stick to the tried and true text-based resume format.  

Are Video Resumes the Future?

In a time when many industries are struggling with worker shortages, finding new ways to engage job seekers might make social media platforms, such as TikTok, effective tools in bringing in new employees. This is especially true when it comes to the younger Generation Z job seekers, among whom video platforms such as TikTok are already popular. This alone should entice employers to pay attention to the future trends in video resume technology and how it will potentially impact job postings.  

Many colleges and universities have utilized video essays in their application processes for years, so the process isn’t new. But it isn’t something employers have used on nearly the scale that universities have. In fact, the TikTok video resume program is not even currently in use. It launched in July 2021, and TikTok invited only a few “select companies” to use the service. These employers included Chipotle, Target, WWE, Alo Yoga, Shopify, Contra, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Job seekers looking for entry-level jobs to experienced positions were able to apply via the video format. The service only extended through the end of July, and it isn’t clear whether TikTok will resume the video resume program in the future or not. 

Benefits of Video Resumes

That said, TikTok is most likely only the beginning of the video resume. Other sites such as Facebook and Snapchat could be following suit. The reason is video resumes present an unquestionable upside to traditional resumes. We live in a society where video content is already a big part of how we communicate.

Transitioning that to resumes is only a natural extension of that process. The limited time to create a video resume forces applicants to be concise and to the point. This fits into the way social media works now, utilizing short-form digital content because people want to quickly see what you have and then move on to something else.      

1. Showcase personality

TikTok videos allow potential candidates to showcase who they are, not only what they’ve done. Traditional resumes and cover letters can tend to all look very similar, and most aren’t even read by a real person. Many companies and online search sites employ algorithms that scan for keywords and automatically discard those applicants whose resumes are missing them.

This process is great when you have 250 applicants and have to quickly narrow it down to three or four. But, are they the best three or four? The downside of traditional resumes is that they don’t leave any room for an applicant’s personality to show through. Algorithms are immune to personal flair. A candidate who might never make it past the initial scan process using traditional methods could get noticed in the 3-minute video.   

2. Demonstrate skills

Another advantage of TikTok resumes is that those job seekers who are applying for public-facing, content creation, or digital media positions have a platform that is tailor-made for them to showcase their skills, personality, etc. But regardless of the position a candidate is applying for, video resumes give candidates a great opportunity over traditional resumes to showcase their skills in a format that is becoming increasingly more important in society as a whole.

Video has a distinct advantage over other forms of media, such as print or radio, in reaching target audiences. Video resumes are no different. Those who are able to successfully present themselves visually to employers can potentially increase their chances of getting hired. 

The Disadvantages of Video Resumes

1. Older generations may find it difficult to navigate 

Before employers jump in with both feet, though, they need to consider the potential pitfalls of video resumes. One obvious disadvantage is that although younger applicants have been immersed in all aspects of social media and would most likely be comfortable using an application process such as TikTok Resume, older applicants might not be that familiar with the technology and might find the process difficult. Thus, the older segment of job candidates would potentially be at a disadvantage, and employers might find seeking experienced candidates for higher-level positions harder to do using a video platform. 

2. Applicant may not have access to necessary equipment 

Another potential issue is that candidates from wealthier backgrounds might have access to better equipment and software to record and edit a compelling video resume. This could be a distinct disadvantage to the candidates who are just trying to get something out there and don’t have access to quality equipment or have the ability to present a video that looks polished or professional in the eyes of a hiring manager. This creates a potential issue regardless of the content of the video. 

3. Potential hiring bias

Another potential downside to video resumes is that they could result in an upturn in discrimination in hiring. Getting to know an applicant on paper gives an employer a sense of who that applicant is before employers ever see that person. They can see what type of education the candidate has and where they got that education. They can see any certifications the candidate has earned and if the candidate has an impressive employment history or not.

Applicants who look good on paper will catch the eye of employers sight unseen. On the other hand, video resumes present the person first, giving the hiring manager information about the person’s race, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, disability status, and other factors that might generate bias in hiring and expose businesses to the risk of damaging lawsuits.

4. Can be difficult to check employment history

Employers might also find it difficult to conduct a background check on an applicant based on a video resume. Without a hard copy of employment history on a resume, hiring managers will have to get that information from watching the video. If the candidate’s voice or accent makes them hard to understand, it could make it challenging for employers to identify workplaces, former supervisors, or other key details about work history.

Wil Video Resumes Stick Around?

Regarding the question as to whether or not TikTok or video resumes are here to stay, the answer is most likely yes. Technology will continue to advance, and we will use the tools at our disposal to advance it. Whereas recruitment used to be done with paper resumes and employers sifting through them by hand, we can see the progression to more digitized and virtual processes. If it isn’t TikTok, it will be another social media platform that innovates the way in which job seekers apply for new jobs and opportunities. 

Traditional text-based resumes in the recruiting process are not going away any time soon. Both applicants and recruiters will more likely use both traditional resumes and video as part of the process. Employers will be able to give job seekers an option as to which method is more comfortable for them. But video is part of the emerging shift in technology, and it will continue to integrate deeper into many aspects of our lives. Video resumes are just one piece of that. 

Will Virtual Resumes Replace Conventional Resumes?

TikTok resume could be the first step in video job applications that will eventually replace conventional resumes. But platforms like TikTok must continue to be aware of the goal of this new recruiting technology, which is to make it easier for candidates to find the best opportunities that fit their skills and experience, without creating new barriers. There are a number of kinks to work out before video resumes can achieve that.

Even though using video platforms in the recruiting process comes with inevitable problems and hurdles, the value in reaching the workforce demographics of tomorrow will make it a worthwhile effort. And as more and more applicants use video technology to apply for jobs, companies that specialize in video and mixed-media resumes will emerge to help candidates put together quality presentations, helping to make video resumes the way of the future.

Related: Do You Need a Digital Resume? 

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Pete Newsome is the founder of zengig, which he created after more than two decades in staffing and recruiting. He’s also President of 4 Corner Resources, the Forbes America's Best Staffing and Recruiting Firm he founded in 2005, and is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance. In addition to his passion for staffing, Pete is now committed to zengig becoming the most comprehensive source of expert advice, tools, and resources for career growth and happiness. When he’s not in the office or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his career knowledge and expertise through public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Finding Career Zen & Hire Calling podcasts. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn