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Angelica Ordonez Celi had just finished a master’s degree in management in May of 2020 and was looking for a sales role at a tech company in Toronto. Like many job seekers, she turned to the professional networking website LinkedIn to connect with others and search for job openings, but by autumn she was still without a full-time gig.

Around that time, she noticed more of her friends were joining TikTok for fun, so she signed up for the social media platform herself. After coming across tutorial videos, Ms. Ordonez Celi figured there might be content on TikTok about interviewing and applying for jobs. Using search terms like “interviewing,” she found short videos with tips on virtual interviewing – a crucial skill during the pandemic when there have been fewer in-person meetings.

“I learned so much about how to be myself in an interview and how to be confident in my own skills,” Ms. Ordonez Celi, 26, explains. “I like TikTok because you can watch a 15- or 60-second video and you can learn a lot.”

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More and more job hunters, especially younger candidates who are part of Generation Z, are using social media as part of their job search strategy. Companies, too, are benefiting from having a positive social media presence that helps give applicants a well-rounded picture of their work culture and staff.

In January, Ms. Ordonez Celi, applied for a job as a sales consultant for the financial software company Intuit. The company recruiter that scheduled her first interview was Emily Durham – someone that Ms. Ordonez Celi followed on TikTok.

“I really like how the company was portrayed,” she says of Ms. Durham’s TikTok account. “It put Intuit at the top of the list of the companies I was interviewing with.” She accepted a job offer from Intuit a few weeks after applying.

Ms. Durham started her TikTok and Instagram accounts in September, 2020, in response to the increase in applicants she encountered, especially new graduates, who were ill-prepared for interviews or submitted poor résumés.

“Candidates were lacking fundamental skills and a lot of things that you really only learn by mistake, or if you become a recruiter,” Ms. Durham says. She posts short video clips with tips such as how to look engaged during a video interview and what kinds of questions you should be asking at the end of an interview.

Dr. Patricia Hewlin, an associate professor of organizational behaviour at McGill University in Montreal, says that social media has become an integral part of the recruiting and job hunting process. “People are engaging virtually and on social media more than ever,” Dr. Hewlin says. “The pandemic in particular has sealed the way we engage.”

Social media platforms such as TikTok aren’t just for companies to showcase their brand and company culture. They’re also a way for job seekers to show a fuller picture of their skills when applying for work, according to Dr. Hewlin.

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“Gen Zs have flexibility in terms of being creative and showing [who they are],” she says. “Companies get a more comprehensive profile by viewing the candidate on different platforms. How a candidate reveals themselves on Instagram may be different from how they show their experience on LinkedIn.”

However, the more information there is available about a candidate, the greater the potential there is for recruiters to be biased. “Organizations really need to engage in training regarding bias,” says Dr. Hewlin. “Be mindful of bias when you’re evaluating candidates on different platforms.”

As the co-founder of BYNK, a Toronto-based e-commerce marketing agency, Noura Mutairi, 26, encourages job applicants to reach out through Instagram direct message. “It peels back a lot of formality and gives us a chance to see beyond a résumé and get a feel for who a person really is,” Ms. Mutairi says. “Credentials are super important and we definitely still take a look at a résumé, but it is not the major deciding factor for accepting candidates at BYNK.”

Prior to starting BYNK in May, 2020, Ms. Mutairi worked as an operations manager and media director for a boutique swimwear company in Toronto. She secured the job after seeing an advertisement for the vacancy on the company’s Instagram account. Ms. Mutairi opted to send an Instagram DM about her interest in the posting, instead of e-mailing a résumé.

“I felt like a casual DM intro would feel personal and friendly,” Ms. Mutairi recalls. “It would give them the opportunity to check out my [Instagram] and get a better feel for who I was, compared to a traditional résumé.” Ms. Mutairi heard back from the company’s co-founder the next day and they arranged a time to meet in person – again, through an Instagram DM. A few days after her interview, Ms. Mutairi was offered the job.

Fielding applications through Instagram messages might not be the future of all companies. But Dr. Hewlin does stress that having some social media presence will be essential for those that want to stay on top of hiring trends. “They’re going to find themselves behind,” Dr. Hewlin says of organizations reluctant to use social media for recruiting. “To say that they’re not going to engage at all will place them behind the eight-ball.”

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