TikTok can be a useful recruitment tool to attract Gen Z, explains Nottingham University graduate Millie Finch.
In previous years it was the norm for graduates to trawl traditional job sites and boards looking for suitable…or unsuitable roles.
For many, securing that job was more often about getting out of their parents’ house and regaining their university freedom.
Workplace culture, mental health, hybridity and diversity were typically an afterthought.
However, times have changed. Gen Z is hungry to get to know the company they’re joining. Are they caring? Are they conscious? Are they courageous? This is something you can’t necessarily glean from a job description.
Why social media?
How then, can businesses wishing to attract a brilliant graduate make themselves seen? Make themselves an option? The answer is social media.
Undoubtedly, traditional elements still hold value. A functioning website and decent salary are the bare minimum, but businesses must adapt to the online world if they are to hold their own.
Current graduates are digital natives. We’ve grown up on the stuff. We aren’t looking at newspapers for our news or waiting for in-person opportunities to catch up with our friends. It all takes place virtually. Communication is concentrated on social media and scouting out potential employers is also conducted there. So, meet us where we are.
Attract diverse applicants
Not every graduate is on LinkedIn and those not using the site may not have had access to diligent careers services, savvy parents, and industry contacts.
They’re likely to have just as much aptitude as others but fall through the LinkedIn web. They will however be on social media.
Student employers who recognise this can reach a more diverse applicant pool, especially if the content connects with the unique challenges they may face.
Who is doing it well?
Employers are met with a different set of challenges when attracting their ‘customers’ to consumer brands. However, they can certainly take inspiration from the approach of these companies.
One such example is the Romford branch of M&S and their TikTok account – which has amassed 93.5k followers – impressive for an unassuming Essex branch of the household brand.
M&S and TikTok aren’t immediately associated, but the Romford staff have been very successful in leveraging the platform. Beginning in the first lockdown, the team manager created a Facebook page to keep customers informed. It proved popular and the store’s social media presence then extended to TikTok.
Content spans from light-hearted dances to creative product reveals, such as this one with staff members wearing sunglasses and Hawaiian leis to celebrate M&S garlic bread.
Why TikTok works
Whilst the incongruity of this scene would be dismissed by traditional marketing standards, it works perfectly on TikTok. This is partly because it doesn’t take itself too seriously and the audience sees staff members as humans rather than cogs in a machine.
In fact, celebrity culture and Gen Z both value an ‘access all areas’ and ‘behind the scenes’ approach. The more exclusive and authentic-feeling content they can access, the better.
This explains why the new, anti-social media app, BeReal, has prospered and why M&S Romford have experienced such success. The content is not polished and poised like TV advertisements, but it helps them connect with, and reach a new audience.
The featured stars range from 54-year-old Simon Bell, a fire, health and safety officer, to 20-year-old customer service assistant, Clinton Amponsah. The message is clear: M&S is for everyone.
How does this relate to student recruiters and employer branding?
M&S Romford’s TikTok demonstrates how an effective use of social media can change brand perceptions for the better and generate engagement from the audience you want to reach.
M&S notoriously caters for an older consumer – I myself associate it with trips to the sale with my grandma and numerous sandwiches and hot chocolates in the cafe.
However, this particular branch’s TikTok unveiled a totally new side – one in which the charismatic staff have a fun, family ethos. Not only would I now consider it a place to work, but also a place to shop.
This is supported by M&S’s blog post, which craftily interweaves the main stars’ profiles with their M&S staples, thus positioning their shop as a viable option for a younger audience.
A student recruiter may learn from M&S by ditching their corporate image momentarily and embracing the light-hearted, short-form content TikTok affords. It is a highly effective way of showcasing the culture of a workplace, demonstrating a diverse and cohesive staff in a more natural manner than any traditional method of promotion would afford.
Read more insight and advice on using social media in student recruitment