Career Zoo directors Brian Ó hOisín and Jackie Slattery, pictured with Julie Sharp, Head of Group HR, Bank of Ireland
Career Zoo directors Brian Ó hOisín (centre) and Jackie Slattery (right), pictured with Julie Sharp, Head of Group HR, Bank of Ireland. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

We started Career Zoo in the middle of an economic crisis: were we mad?

7 Sep 2015

In the lead-up to Career Zoo 10 this weekend, Brian Ó hOisín, founder and director of Career Zoo, reflects on how the tech recruitment event has evolved since it was established in 2011.

Nearly five years ago, we held the first Career Zoo event at the Mansion House in Dublin.

At the time (January 2011), professionals looking to further their careers were departing Ireland in their droves. Prolonged economic recession saw some of our best talent leave to work in the UK, Canada, Australia and even further afield.

Despite the doom and gloom that pervaded the country at that point, I was hearing whispers that some companies in Ireland were actively seeking to recruit skilled staff, and struggling to find them. This was particularly true in tech.

As a result, Career Zoo was born.

In the midst of that terrible recession, and at a time when we were only hearing stories of unemployment figures rising, we launched a dedicated professional recruitment event. Were we mad?

Fifty employers and organisations took part in the first Career Zoo event, and we had almost 10,000 people in attendance. This gave us the confidence to further develop Career Zoo, and to stage subsequent events.

Five years later

Fast-forward almost five years, and we’re now facing into our tenth Career Zoo.

Career Zoo directors Jackie Slattery and Brian Ó hOisín with Zalando staff

Career Zoo directors Jackie Slattery (far left) and Brian Ó hOisín pictured with Zalando staff at the launch of Career Zoo 10. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography


Over the course of our 10 events, some things have stayed much the same, while others have changed significantly.

After the first three events, realising we needed more space, we moved from the Mansion House to The Convention Centre Dublin, and we’ve been there since.

The additional space has allowed us to add new and more engaging content elements at each subsequent event, including a Speaker Series, coding sessions, tech talks, and mentoring workshops.

While the number of participating employers has doubled to approximately 100, our attendance numbers have stayed roughly the same, reaching almost 10,000 attendees each time.

What has changed, however, is the profile of the average attendee. At every event, it seems those attending are better skilled, more polished and more assertive about what they want when considering new roles.

They have also realised that the employers participating in Career Zoo are hiring for very specific areas. This time around, for example, we have a strong focus on big data and fintech, in addition to wider tech and biopharma roles.

Trading Places

Another interesting trend over the 10 events is that about 50 per cent of our attendees now come from outside Ireland.

The proliferation of tech companies establishing EMEA headquarters here has resulted in an influx of global talent.

How different to when we began, when those looking for decent jobs were leaving the country. Now highly-skilled international candidates are moving to work here!

Finally, another significant change since 2011 is that the balance of power now lies with job candidates rather than with employers.

With the economy once more on an upward curve, and specific skill-sets in high demand but short supply, those with the right skills can pick and choose where they want to work. Employers must compete to gain their interest, offering not only decent remuneration and a good work environment, but also a culture that entices the candidate in question.

This ‘war for talent’ is leading to interesting new developments in the areas of recruitment and networking.

That can only mean more changes in store for Career Zoo in the years to come.

#CareerZoo10 takes place at The Convention Centre Dublin this coming Saturday, 12 September, from 10am to 5pm. To register for the event, visit the Career Zoo website.

Looking for tech jobs in Ireland? Check out our Featured Employers section for information on companies hiring right now.

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