It's the technologists' world. The creative people are just living in it. That was the sobering take-away for writers, artists and other creative people who checked out the bustling so-called creative job fair at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, on Thursday and Friday.
The talk of the event was the need for geeks and nerds, not scribes and artists.
"What we really can't get enough of is [software] developers and engineers," said Jovanna Owusu, Talent Attraction for AT&T. "[For tech jobs, t]he demand far exceeds supply - big data analysts, emerging business model specialists, people who can virtually build things."
"We have immediate openings for developers and engineers in Dallas and New York," said Ashley Beadle, Human Resources for Isis, a fledgling mobile wallet payment company.
"We need software developers," said Santiago San Martin, a recruiter for Globant, a software company in San Francisco. "Lots of software developers."
The SXSWi job fair included over 30 companies ranging from well-known to unknown, but they all had two things in common: a desperate need for skilled technologists, and ways to stand out among their competitors for those skilled technologists. The branded pens and squishy balls just don't hack it anymore.
Phoenix Cosmopolitan Group, a big data analytics company for social media, hired a four-piece acoustic hipster band to serenade strolling seekers of new employment. Globant's pair of recruiters dressed in clown costumes, blew bubbles, showed their hula hoop prowess, and did other wacky things to get attention. It worked: their booth was one of the most crowded at the job fair.
"We really think the costumes help us," said Globant's San Martin, sporting googley eyes and an oversized bow-tie. "Back in San Francisco we obviously don't dress like this, but it does capture our attitude, what we do. Our company's got an average age of 25, it's a loose and fun place. We want to show people that."
The job fair was sponsored by the marketing services holding company Publicis, and despite their various companies hosting the plush seating area that beckoned upon entry, representatives hedged their comments on whether the event was ultimately aimed towards creatives in the advertising and marketing industry.
"This is our first year doing this," said Katie Weiss, a senior recruiter for Vivaki, a digital marketing company. "We didn't really know what to expect."
Weiss acknowledged the shortage of tech people in the marketing industry, but said Vivaki "needs people who can speak in a quantitative skill set," and that there was "still a place for lower level entry for people with passion...that can still help you get a job."
Not everyone agreed with that, though.
"Passion can get you attention, but it only gets you so far," said AT&T's Owusu. "We need people who have already gotten a good start."
That message came through loud and clear to two creative talents from the advertising world, both of whom asked AOL Jobs to not share their names as they have jobs now and don't want their employers to know they're looking elsewhere.
"I'm feeling like this is a bit of a bait and switch," complained Helen, who said she works for an Austin boutique ad shop. "People are vague about what they have available, and it's more like a short conversation where I end up agreeing to send them my resume. Not particularly encouraging."
Later, another curious creative reiterated her words.
"It doesn't feel like there's all that much here for me," said Jennifer, a New York copywriter. "I want to get out of New York, but I don't think I'll find anything at any of these places. It's not really what I expected."