The Landing.jobs Festival 2015
Whilst Head of Marketing and Communications of the newly-rebranded Landing.jobs, I devised the creative concept and directed the event design for the #LandingFestival - a jobs fair like no other.
With events like these usually taking place in the dated gymnasiums of university campuses or stuffy conference centres on the outskirts of major cities, we decided to try something completely different.
In partnership with iMatch, and in just 4 weeks, we went from vague ideas on paper to holding a truly iconic and blockbusting event, taking over Lisboa Marina, commandeering a large sailboat, and bringing together over 600 quality-scored tech professionals and 29 of Europe's fastest growing employers, with free Uber rides and CityDrive carsharing credit to get around the Metro strike that day.
Plus I got to set a world record: the first man to send a grilled sardine into space.
It was a fun stunt to bring together the best of technology and Lisbon's month of sardine-themed street parties in June. We never did get the video footage back, but the Portuguese Navy collected the tracker for us a couple of days later.
Below is a promotional video we produced following the success of the event, and an article I wrote for the company blog summing up what we achieved.
#LandingFestival reinvents the jobs fair
Inside Lisbon’s crazy new jobs fair and the tech hiring marketplace startup behind it
A marina that looks like a scifi thriller set, a sailboat harking back to a former naval empire, a high altitude balloon lifting the first grilled sardine into space.
No, it’s not a post-apocalyptic attempt at rebuilding civilisation around fish gods — it’s the #LandingFestival, a new jobs fair from online hiring marketplace Landing.jobs — where two dozen top employers from across Europe flocked on the 18th of June, desperate to attract the attention of over 600 skilled job seekers in a country that usually brings the words “economic crisis” to mind.
But that’s only part of the story – around 8,000 tech sector job vacancies will go unfilled in Portugal this year. In London alone that number is many times higher – 46,000. The EU has commissioned various studies which conclude that an extra 900,000 additional workers with tech skills are needed by 2020 to meet demand.
With more vacancies than people qualified enough to do them, Landing.jobs seems to be on to something that recruitment agencies and jobs boards alike have not woken up to — it’s the candidates who have the power, not the companies looking to hire them.
“Yes, we get hundreds of applications per job opening on a normal jobs board, but that hides the fact that there aren’t enough good candidates out there,” says Cristina Fonseca, co-founder of Talkdesk, whose company just recently received an additional $15 million of investment, and has used Landing.jobs since it started to place nearly half of her Portugal-based tech team.
“Landing.jobs helps us cut down the overall hiring process from a matter of months to weeks. Filtering only the best applications to us, managing everyone’s expectations throughout with a really switched-on operations team, and now, putting on the kind of event that recognises the opportunity of bringing together people like me with the teams I need to build tomorrow.”
“I’m not sure how we can quite translate this experience on a screen, but we’re going to keep doing our very best,” says Head of Marketing Matthew Carrozo, minutes after he launched the first grilled sardine into space as the payload of the high altitude Balua Project balloon.
“It’s the festas populares here in Lisbon during all of June. We couldn’t not have sardines,” adds Carrozo, who relocated to Lisbon at the beginning of the year after seven years of working in London’s booming digital sector, citing a better quality of life and a deeper professional challenge in a startup scene that has grown into a serious player in recent years.
“I got my first post-uni job in London just 6 months before the financial crisis hit in October 2008, so my generation has definitely bore the emotional shock of recession. But if you work in the tech sector — as a programmer, as a designer, in digital marketing — you’ve always had amazing opportunities available to you, and it’s only getting better.”
“Just as I was able to try something new in this beautiful town, talent here knows it has many choices when it comes to emigrating or working remotely.”
Indeed, Landing.jobs also revealed the findings of a study it conducted of hundreds of highly-educated, well-experienced Portuguese tech professionals. Although 66% are very interested in emigrating for work, a whopping 93% would prefer to work remotely for a foreign company in their native land.
Which might explain the presence of London-based DigitasLBi, one of the world’s largest digital advertising agencies, who already operate a so-called “near-shoring operation” in Madrid, and see the value of international teams and remote offices.
“In London, we’re competing for talent not just with our agency peers, but with the City’s fintech boom and American tech giants, not to mention the cost of office space and increasing salaries. We know we have to look further afield and impress new generations of candidates if we’re to stay in the game and grow our business.”
Impress they must, and some employers have taken up Landing.jobs’ top package at the event — an intimate voyage up the Tejo River at sunset on a full-sailed ship, where founders and senior management can woo two sets of 150 tech professionals with short punchy “Ignite” presentations that cut off after five minutes, and must field direct questions from those who can afford to be picky in where they choose to build their careers.
“Job fairs suck, we all know that. And we know that getting a job isn’t just about the money,” chimes in David Bento, Head of Operations.
“Our survey confirmed another fact that may surprise some but what we’ve known all along – when it comes to changing jobs, money comes quite far down the list in terms of motive. Work environment, culture, vision, professional challenge and opportunities for growth all ranked higher than pay.”
David continued: “A big part of my job is to make sure that our employers understand that if they want to attract the best talent, they need to focus on selling not just to their customers, but to the people who will join their teams. On their side of our business, we’ve got some big plans for helping them do this in a way they where they are always plugged into a place where they have the attention of top professionals.”
It’s hard not to be taken aback by the infectious energy the Landing.jobs team has for the challenge they’ve taken on. And not just because of the show they’ve convinced employers to put on for the hundreds of potential candidates who’ve come for free.
“Look at that!” shouts Head of Product Tiago Moreiras, pointing to the docking of the Principe Perfeito next to the marina. Settling down, he reveals that giving up his comfortable position at IT consultancy Novabase was one of the most difficult— but rewarding — decisions he’s ever made.
“I didn’t realise just how big this problem was. Every day I get an even deeper appreciation for the role we play in people’s lives, how we’re only at the tip of the iceberg for matchmaking great professionals with great companies building great things.”
Although clever algorithms and automated wizardry will play their part in the company’s future, Landing.jobs seems committed to its internal mission to live up to its name “the human way”.
Tiago added: “My background is business intelligence and project management, so spreadsheets and sprints are definitely a big part of my work week, but I spend a couple of hours a day reading and responding to the hundreds of people who get in touch with us on all sorts of issues.”
“Advice on their applications, wondering when they can expect to get an interview, reporting bugs as we continue to grow the platform, hiring managers asking for a new feature, messages filled with happy-face emojis when candidates bag their next job, and sad ones when they didn’t make the final cut… We play a big part in people’s lives. It’s hard not to be affected by that. We’re humbled, but… challenge accepted!”