How a former Facebook staffer became an overnight success on TikTok by posting Gen-Z career advice videos

  • Job coach Alex Shoen has built a following of 92,500 since she began posting on TikTok in January.
  • She is part of the growing ‘#JobTok’ trend on TikTok where creators post career advice. 
  • Shoen says her overnight TikTok success has boosted business at her online education company.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Alexa Shoen had a feeling she might do well on TikTok, having learned the tricks of the social media trade during her previous job as a content designer and product manager at Facebook. But she hadn’t predicted that she would find success so quickly after she started posting on the app in January this year.

Now, having amassed more than 92,500 TikTok followers in that short time, Shoen has become a big player in the popular “#JobTok” trend, where creators on the app post career advice to its primarily Gen-Z audience. Her videos often sit atop the search results when users search the JobTok hashtag in the app.

Under the handle @alexashoen, she posts digestible, accessible advice for people early into their careers, including topics such as “the difference between getting a job and getting into college” and “why nobody accepts your LinkedIn request.” 

Shoen told Insider her audience is mainly college graduates who have struggled to line up a job or graduate scheme after completing their degrees. The rise of the #JobTok trend is especially pertinent this year, given the impact of COVID-19 has had on the job market.  A recent survey of 3,000 UK students and graduates conducted by graduate careers website Milkround found that two-thirds (62%) of those polled were worried the pandemic will negatively impact their future career prospects.

Shoen said she launched on TikTok with specific goals in mind.

“Can I get a video to hit within my first 25 videos? And can I get 100,000 views?,” Shoen said. “And then it happened so quickly.”

The third-ever TikTok Shoen posted to her account, in which she explained why she believes entry-level jobs that require two to three years of experience aren’t fair, gained more than 600,000 views in less than 24 hours, she said. That video now has more than 990,000 views and 160,000 likes.

Here’s why ##entryleveljobs require 2-3 years of experience you don’t have. ##recentgradlife ##jobsearch ##jobtok ##entrylevelboss ##careertok ##classof2020

 

Shoen hit the requirements to access the TikTok Creator Fund in her first week posting on the app, after accumulating 38,000 followers in her first seven days. The Creator Fund is TikTok’s program to compensate creators who are over 18, from the US and Europe with at least 10,000 followers and 10,000 views.

This week, she cashed in her first month’s Creator Fund check for £112.05  ($154.78). Insider verified Shoen’s earnings by viewing a screenshot of her Creator Fund Dashboard. 

“The Creator Fund incentivizes creators to create great content in a way that Instagram never really hacked,” Shoen added. Shoen suggests her success, and that of TikTok more broadly, is that the app encourages “great content and virality.” 

Shoen credits TikTok for a boost in business at her online education company

Shoen also uses her TikTok to promote Entry Level Boss, her online education company that aims to help early-stage career jobseekers find employment. Founded in 2016, Shoen began working on Entry Level Boss full-time alongside two other employees in 2020. She previously ran the business as a side hustle alongside her content designer and product manager roles at Facebook — and prior to that at online fashion store Zalando, where she was a senior copywriter. 

Shoen generates income through offering coaching programs and forging partnerships with universities that help students as they enter the job market. Private coaching on her website is listed at $450 for two 75-minute sessions, and $750 for three sessions at 135 minutes each. Entry Level Boss also sells a bootcamp program for $199. Shoen declined the comment on the fees she receives from universities, though she said interest in those partnerships, particularly from US colleges, has increased since she launched her TikTok account in January.

Things I got wrong about the ##jobsearch: part 3. ##entrylevelboss ##jobtok ##recentgradlife ##classof2020 ##careers ##interns ##employment ##jobs ##careertok

 

Shoen also credits TikTok for driving sales of her book, “Entry Level Boss,” which came out in May 2020.

“We sold more copies in the first three weeks of being on TikTok than we did for the whole of 2020,” Shoen said. 

The book has sold several thousand copies globally, according to Shoen who declined to offer a more specific range. She did, however, provide a screenshot from her BookScan account that appeared to show a spike in sales in January, though the graph did not include the actual sales numbers.

Shoen said her role as a millennial and Gen-Z career coach is in part a refutation of the advice hanging over from the Boomer generation. She recalled a scene when she was 25 and had overheard a former boss complaining about a lack of “good entry level talent.”

“Everybody has such intensely held opinions about how the employment market works, or how it’s supposed to work,” Shoen said. “Most of these intensely held opinions are not true to the way that people actually get hired — they don’t map to reality.” 

She continued, “TikTok has become an amazing place for people to learn and think: ‘I am not the only one screwing up at this’.”

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