Amidst Silicon Valley Layoffs, TikTok Is Hiring

Even as Silicon Valley giants such as Twitter and Meta cut staff, one company has been aggressively hiring technology professionals: TikTok.

According to The Information, tech professionals laid off from Twitter and Meta over the past few weeks have received calls from TikTok’s recruiters. Two anonymous sources told the publication that TikTok intends to double its Silicon Valley staff to 2,000 workers.  

TikTok, which allows users to watch ultra-short videos selected by algorithm, is widely viewed as a serious threat to Meta and other social networks in the unending battle for users’ attention (particularly younger users). Although the Trump administration attempted to ban the app in the U.S. on national security grounds, the app continues to operate after a complicated deal in which U.S. users’ data is routed through Oracle’s servers.

For those interested in potentially working for TikTok, compensation matches that of other social networking giants. Take a look at this chart from levels.fyi, which crowdsources its compensation data:

TikTok’s hiring spree is a healthy reminder that, even during times of economic uncertainty, companies everywhere will still need all kinds of tech specialists to accomplish their goals. From building websites to developing better algorithms, tech work simply needs to be done.

Even if you’re not interested in working for TikTok, keep in mind that many recruiters and hiring managers will respond to a “TikTok resume.” A quick TikTok video breaking down your skills and experience could potentially rack up hundreds of views and draw the attention of desirable employers.  

“There are smart entrepreneurial technical people everywhere,” Farhan Thawar, Shopify’s vice president for engineering, told The New York Times earlier this year about their company’s use of TikTok to find engineering candidates. “We have this thing where if you can’t explain a technical topic to a 5-year-old, then you probably don’t understand the topic. So having a medium like TikTok is perfect.”

2 Responses to “Amidst Silicon Valley Layoffs, TikTok Is Hiring”

  1. jake_leone

    That comment by Farhan Tharwar, is quite laughable. Using Hocum’s Razor, a more likely explanation is that it is difficult-to-impossible for Shopify HR personnel to understand.
    Here, let me do my best to explain this to a 5-year (who is a prodigy and understands algebra).
    While a single case example of a problem, can often suffice to explain the reason for the “Want” of a solution. For example “I want some peanuts”.
    The actual (engineered) solution must often address need, not just want. As such, at the very least, algebra must be used.
    In this case, the person expressed a desire for “peanuts”, which has a “Want” component and sometimes a “Need” component. The ability to satisfy the “Want”, is not easily determined, simply getting peanuts might not solve the problem (it requires experiment and willingness to tolerate failure).
    But the “Need” (for protein, calories), that can be solved by using math & scientific study to determine the nutrient level of peanuts and to what extent it can meet a person’s physical requirements.
    In sales, we have to pay attention to “Want”, because want drives sales when all other needs are met. But do we really need a sales pitch, if a person is starving? (no in this case sales pitches are redundant, probably quite irritating).
    In engineering we have to pay attention to “Need”, because no matter how much we want it, it just might not be possible given current state of available technology, resources, and the ability to enhance/develop the technology to meet the expressed “Need” (which could be “Want” expressed by those in authority, Ex: Mark Zuckerberg’s VR glasses). Determining the “ability” to meet a need, and then optimizing for the need, is the job of engineering.
    In a more dynamic environment, sales and engineering can drive sales. Sales can identify the “Wants” and (if necessary) the actual “Needs” of potential customers. Engineering can assess the feasibility to meets those needs of sales (or those in authority).
    Now engineers often paint themselves into a corner, by only seeing the impossible (ie: the fences in the box). Engineers don’t deal with fantasy, so this happens, it is a job hazard. But by employing suitable break time, and specialists, engineering (as a process) can be enhanced to see more “out of the box” (really just expanding the box) solutions to problems. The result, often, is that the solution gets a little (or a lot) more complex, but then more optimal solutions can often be achieved as engineers see an ability to make such optimizations. (or perhaps the whole VR glasses department is fired, which simplifies a lot)

    But you know the 5 year old explanation would be: A need is something you can’t live without. A want is everything else that you say you need, but can actually live without.

    Does that even come close to explaining the engineering needed to solve a problem? No way. You have to thrown in (at the least), the scientific method and algebra. The algebraic math can get very complex, hence the need for many algebraic specializations in Calculus, Statistics, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science… And those get very complex, and you can’t just give the 5 minute answer for them to a 5-year old and say they understand the subjects.

    Saying that being able to do so is pure hocum, and we can devise experiments to validate this.

    A much more realistic possibility, is that Shopify rejects many candidates, with advanced understanding, because interviewers at Shopify are unable to understand them. This, if confirmed, points to a need to beef up the technical capabilities of interviewers at Shopify.

  2. jake leone

    A good example of the problem with over simplifying the knowledge required to actually engineer a modern device (or modern anything), can be seen with the guy who tried to create a toaster. The problem statement, solved by a toaster, is very simple. I want my bread cooked so that the outer surface is golden brown delicious, I don’t want to be actively involved in the cooking process. And the primitive solutions to that, require a lot of attention, but are quite simple.
    Prepare some bread (not a small feat), cut it, build a fire, find a stick, hang the bread on the stick over the fire. Watch it closely, till browned sufficiently, don’t let it catch on fire. Right there, that’s a toaster. And it seems so simple, anyone could build a toaster. (Well no, because a toaster, if set properly, will pop the bread up, and if you have that right, you don’t need to watch it).
    So a guy actually tried to make a toaster.
    He wrote a book about his experience.
    Toasters are incredibly complex devices, and are the product of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and metallurgical chemistry.
    What he came up with didn’t really work, and it took him a long time to make just that.
    Just the springs in modern toasters, are remarkable feats of metallurgical chemistry. The heating element, the plastic exterior, the electric transformer. To create any one of these elements, from scratch (even from prepared materials) is a huge task.
    So to put it simply. Reality distortion field “What’s to it, I mean it’s a toaster, anyone could make one”. That’s easy to dribble out, manager do it all the time, so do clueless product designers.
    Reality, is something completely different.
    To assess an engineering candidate (not a sales person) you need to look at past work (even shareware work done by the candidate, if they had no previous opportunity). Are they passionately interested in software? Enough so that they would rather code on the Weekend? And given that, what have they produced?
    Do they understand the basic concepts involved in modern software dev?
    Is there a way to verify, via small tests, that they can work with your technology, or are at least capable of taking it up?
    These are harder assessments, than say an entertaining 5 minute video. But that is what it really takes. Tiktok resume, that’s a fantasy. That’s a broadway play called “How to succeed”.