Job search is one of the areas the ongoing pandemic has negatively impacted. Consequently, recent college graduates and young people. The unemployment rate among 20-24-year-olds was 10.5% in November, the highest among adults. By contrast, the unemployment rate among workers 45-54-years-old was almost half that, at 5.5%. Some speculate this is because, in the current economy, employers can get more experienced workers for less pay.
What does this mean for college students looking for career advice? It is more important than ever for college students to plan ahead for their future careers. There are many tools out there to help with this, as the non-profit organization Educate to Career’s FutureCaster tool. This tool allows young people to identify job sectors and majors that are likely to have good job prospects. FutureCaster indicates that workers knowledgeable in a variety of business and financial operations have excellent prospects for future employment.
Tell Your Story on Social Media
Thinking strategically about a major is one important piece of the puzzle. In a crowded market it’s also important to think about how you want to portray yourself and your professional brand. With a social media profile, you can easily establish your brand and control how your professional “story” gets told online.
For example, job seekers often use LinkedIn for networking and professional branding. The site offers a lot of great resources for young people about how to make the most of the app. This isn’t the only social tool out there for job seekers, though.
When we think branding, we think marketing. And when we look at the world of marketing, video is more important than ever. With that, we are now seeing some carry over into the world of job seeking. Specifically, TikTok has an interesting, growing niche of job applications and career-seeking advice.
TikTok and the job search
TikTok is the most downloaded app of 2020. The Chinese-owned short-form video creation and sharing app that allows creators to easily remix and sample music and other content. Pandemic isolation and public interest around the app’s legal woes no doubt helped give its popularity a boost. For a time, it looked as if new downloads of TikTok would be banned in the United States. This may have spurred curiosity seekers to check it out.
One of the most notable job-seekers to go viral on the app was Jenna Palek. The May 2020 Kent State grad made a TikTok resume to help stand out from the crowd of thousands who applied for the same position … at TikTok itself. She got the job (and announced it on TikTok). Others have also promoted their qualifications through TikTok resumes.
While some members of Gen Z may be using TikTok to showcase their knowledge and land a first job, some Millennials and members of Gen X are also using TikTok. In this case, more often to extend their professional brand, or image. Quite a few users offer accessible career-coaching tips that are adapted to the app’s bite-size video style.
TikToking on the Job
It usually isn’t long before popular apps start getting attention from marketers. TikTok has reached this phase of its existence. Many companies are trying to figure out the best way to use TikTok in their marketing to reach their desired audiences. In recent months, a number of retailers like Sephora, Dunkin’, and GameStop have implemented ambassador programs for select employees, typically younger, part-time workers, who are active on the app.
On the other hand, Sherwin-Williams recently fired an employee from one of their retail stores, a college student, for making his extremely popular paint-mixing TikToks with company equipment. Rival company Florida Paints quickly hired him for a full-time job alongside an opportunity to create his own line of paints. Presumably the company better appreciated the boost successful TikToks could give their brand.
Job Searching: Make a Plan and Work the Plan
Of course, what ultimately makes these TikTok job seekers successful in their search isn’t simply creating a viral TikTok. Rather, it is using the app’s tools to showcase the skills and experience they already have, in a way that builds credibility in the industry space they are seeking to enter. For example, after that first job-related TikTok, Palek later made additional videos describing how she used stepping-stone opportunities from part-time jobs, volunteer work, and extra curriculars to build her experience.
Having a plan is an important factor in future career success, and it’s something any college student can create. By thinking strategically about where you might like to end up, you can think about what skills you need to develop to get there. Even if your career ends up taking a different path than you originally expected, by strategically thinking ahead you can be prepared for the next step when it presents itself.
At WT, the Career Services office has a whole group of folks who are dedicated to helping students meet their goals. Taking advantage of the many workshops and resources they offer will give students a leg up on the competition. Additionally, students in the PVECOB can also take courses such as BUSI 1304 – Business Communication, which discusses the job search and making a career plan as a significant component of the class.
Assistant Professor of Business Communication