Recruiting the soldiers of the bubble economy

June 23, 2011: 12:14 PM ET

A day at a tech startup jobs fair in New York clouds the question of who exactly is in demand -- the recruiters, or the recruited?

The 69th Regiment Armory, site of the Silicon Alley Talent Fair

The 69th Regiment Armory, site of the Silicon Alley Talent Fair

FORTUNE -- Last week, more than 1,200 people walked into an armory to be enlisted. But they were not there to join the military. They were there to be conscripted into a different American tradition: the boom and bust business cycle. They had come for the Silicon Alley Talent Fair. About 150 employers were waiting to induct them.

Three months ago, the idea for this jobs fair didn't yet exist. It was only created after another fair sold out, leaving dozens of companies on the outside looking in, upset they didn't have the same shot at talent as their competitors. But as so often happens with outcasts, they banded together, organizing a jobs fair of their own, this one far more inclusive for employers and recruits alike. Soon thereafter, they'd sold 1,200 tickets at a $10 face value, (Update: 1,100 tickets sold was the final count, with some going for as low as $5 thanks to coupon codes.) and coaxed many of the big and buzzy New York startups to buy tables. MeetUp, Canvas,, Sonar, VYou, and others were there, looking for fresh blood.

To review: that's two job fairs in three months, featuring nearly 200 startups combined, all of them looking to hire 3,000 miles away from Silicon Valley. It is time to stop looking for indicators of a tech bubble. We're not going to get one better than that. More

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