Meet My Career Advisor: TikTok

Three-quarters of Gen Zers are getting career advice from social media, instead of on the job. Is this a wake-up call for leaders?

When the employee quit her job last month, she didn’t go to her mentor for advice on how to say adieu, nor to a coworker. She logged into TikTok, and found a video of a career coach offering advice on how to write a resignation letter. Did the career coach have any experience in her industry? She didn’t consider that.

She’s far from alone. Over three quarters of Gen Zers (age 21 to 26) say that they regularly get career advice on TikTok, according to a new survey, and a whopping 41% of Gen Zers have made career-related decisions based on information they’ve found on the site. “It’s a hugely powerful tool for getting information,” says Bill Simon, global sector leader for media and entertainment at Korn Ferry, “but I just don’t know how accurate that information is.”

Back before social media became dominant, young people would seek out advice from mentors, coworkers, past coworkers, and others with experience at their company and in their field. Today, many social-media “experts” may never have set foot in a corporate workplace, let alone worked in an employee’s particular industry. While experts are widely encouraging of the use of TikTok as a teaching tool, they worry about bad advice. “Users need to be very discerning,” says Simon.

Others worry that the turn to social-media-as-career-coach signals a lack of workplace connections in a hybrid job market. “Are they turning to TikTok in lieu of mentors?” asks culture and change expert Alma Derricks, senior client partner at Korn Ferry. “They may not be connecting in their organizations and finding people to give them advice.” This is potentially a wake-up call to firms, she says, to strengthen their mentoring and buddy programs.

TikTok is seven years old, and was the most popular app in the US last year, with nearly one in three Americans downloading it. This makes it a wildly powerful tool for reaching both employees and potential fresh talent. Experts encourage firms to use the same channels that their employees and talent are already using. “The underlying principle is ‘that’s the channel they’re choosing, so we have to meet them in that channel,’” says David Ellis, vice president for global TA transformation at Korn Ferry.

While customer-facing companies have long used TikTok as a marketing and customer-engagement tool, the majority of non-customer-facing companies still do not have a presence on TikTok. Experts say that’s a mistake. “If you’re pursuing talent, and TikTok is a vehicle through which you can reach them, then it’s worth exploring,” says Richard Marshall, global managing director for corporate affairs at Korn Ferry.


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