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Amid privacy concerns, young workers still want to get a job at TikTok

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The new way of life under the coronavirus pandemic has crushed businesses around the world, and some entire industries face years of economic recovery ahead.

One company that's so far been the exception is TikTok, the short-form video app where quarantined creatives have made art, entertainment and informative messages ranging from how to stay safe during the virus outbreak, to how to prepare your budget for financial uncertainty. With much of the world forced indoors in the past few months, TikTok and its Chinese counterpart, Douyin, have amassed 800 million monthly active users as of June — more than Reddit, Snapchat or Twitter.

As the most downloaded app of the year, the social platform is still a favorite despite increasing government scrutiny over its ties to China and related concerns about user privacy, data collection and censorship.

TikTok as we know it in the U.S. is the result of Musical.ly, a short-form video app popular in the states, being acquired by Chinese company ByteDance in 2017. ByteDance owns the video app called Douyin in China and has expanded in international markets under the name TikTok. Less than a year after the acquisition, ByteDance moved all Musical.ly users to its TikTok platform.

In November 2019, Washington launched a national security review into the merge, and more recently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. is "looking at" banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps.

Nevertheless, TikTok as an employer has seen a steady rise over the years. The number of full-time TikTok employees in the U.S. has gone from under 500 at the start of the year to almost 1,400 today, and the company made a recent notable hire in former Disney head of streaming Kevin Mayer, who was named TikTok's new CEO in May. 

Recently, TikTok joined seasoned Silicon Valley organizations such as Apple, Facebook and Google as one of the top companies new grads want to work for, according to a June Glassdoor report.

"The most interesting takeaway from report is that TikTok is already among some of most popular companies new grads are applying to right now," Amanda Stansell, senior economic researcher for Glassdoor, tells CNBC Make It. "It will be really interesting to see, as TikTok continues to grow, how their culture grows and unfolds in comparison to its competitors."

A TikTok recruiter tells CNBC Make It that while the pandemic has impacted the company's pace of interviewing, they are still actively hiring. The company announced this week plans to hire 10,000 staff in the U.S. over the next three years, despite a possible ban. According to their careers page, the company currently has more than 370 open roles across offices in Los Angeles; New York City; Austin, Texas; and Mountain View, California. 

Entry-level engineering roles make up 30% of the organization's hires, the recruiter says. "It's important for us to create a work environment where new grads and entry-level hires will be supported and guided in their career development by more experienced managers and leads."

In addition to running a tech internship program in Mountain View for the summer, the company plans to ramp up campus hiring in the U.S., especially for engineering organizations, and aims to hire 50 to 100 new grads in 2021.

The recruiter says they only consider applications submitted directly to their careers page, and that internal referrals can give candidates priority screening with hiring managers.

Candidates who leverage the platform itself to demonstrate their creativity have had luck getting through the competitive application process. For example, in April, Jenna Palek created a video version of her resume in hopes that it would go viral and compete against the 2,000 other applicants for the role she was applying to. The video, which has been viewed 1.7 million times, helped her land an interview, and she was hired for a brand development role with the company's Austin office in May.

"We are still very much early days at TikTok, so we look for people who embody that entrepreneurial spirit and have the drive to take ownership and initiative," the recruiter says. "We're builders here. As a team, we value the ability to take action on big ideas. We're looking for people who can come in and make an impact on our business and our culture."

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