It’s a topic that reigns supreme in political campaigns and in business news. Who’s got them – or doesn’t? Which organizations are hiring – or laying off – employees? What are the latest trends in how people are searching for new jobs, and in what industries are employers seeking talent?

On April 9, Chris Heivly will take to the stage under a circus tent on the corner of Main St. and Corcoran St. in downtown Durham and welcome a crowd of more than 300 job seekers.

It’s “Jobs Under the Big Top” – the sixth iteration of the event in Durham – and for the first time will take place under an actual tent. Prior events were held in Bay 7 at the American Tobacco Campus.

Heivly, one half of the accelerator managing team of The Startup Factory and one of many original founders (and funders) of Durham’s cultural showcase event Paradoxos, is absolutely psyched about the event.

The job fair isn’t your traditional job fair, said Heivly. Under the big top, the concept of a job fair will be flipped on its head.

Rather than job seekers dropping off resumes at employer’s booths and hoping to turn a few minute conversation into a new opportunity, companies at the event will pitch to the talent under the tent.

More than 30 local companies have pitched at Big Top events, and Heivly expects 11 to 15 companies to pitch on April 9.

Eight companies have already committed, said Heivly, including Bronto Software, Netsertive, Automated Insights, Sageworks, Shoeboxed, UserVoice, Validic, and Smashing Boxes.

Heivly expects that the group of employers will have between 110 and 150 open jobs in aggregate. “Nearly half will be in software development,” said Heivly, “so if you’re a developer, this is your place.”

The rest of the positions will be a mixture of sales, marketing/communications, and product or project management positions at a variety of experience levels, said Heivly.

Kicking off the Cultural Showcase of Downtown Durham

Heivly’s Jobs Under the Big Top event kicks off Paradoxos 2014, the second iteration of downtown Durham’s collaboration between Durham’s arts culture, music scene, and entrepreneurial community.

Paradoxos “means ‘seemingly absurd, but surprisingly true’,” said Casey Steinbacher, president and CEO of the Durham Chamber of Commerce.

The hope is that Paradoxos “gives a sense of purpose to the creative energy that bounces around this community everyday,” said Steinbacher, and “diverse people and talent in whatever form or package it comes in.”

Steinbacher, one of the main organizers and original founders of the event, has worked with Heivly, Adam Klein and the American Underground, and Downtown Durham Inc., to start what they hope becomes a signature event for the city.

Last year’s event attracted more than 1,000 individuals over three days, said Heivly, and organizers expect to more than double – or triple – that amount in 2014.

The founders invited additional partners to come on as organizers and funders for this year’s event, said Adam Klein, chief strategist at the American Underground.

“The magic is that as we’ve gotten rolling, lots of creative people we haven’t engaged before are jumping in to help, to standup their own event, or contribute some kind of creative spark to the event,” said Klein.

Official partners include The Startup Factory, Durham Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Durham Inc., the Paragraph Project, Durham Arts Guild, Shoeboxed, American Underground, Windsor Circle, and several key leaders in the local music scene, said Klein.

“Durham wants and needs these kinds of events,” said Steinbacher, “events like this send the message that this genius is welcomed in Durham.”

“Paradoxos is a chance for the broad community to come together and share ideas,” said Klein, “We hope anyone with a passion for a project, company, music or art will join the festival.”

“If you have an idea for something,” said Klein, “we want Durham and the Triangle to be the place to come and experiment with it, to share it, and to take your next step.”

Paradoxos 2014 kicks off on Wednesday, April 9 with Jobs Under the Big Top and will continue through that weekend, with final events on Saturday, April 12. A full schedule of events can be found at