If, as expected, I get a job offer on Monday, the advice in What Color is Your Parachute? will ring very true for me.

My best job prospect is a place that wasn’t even hiring.I’m going to continue my practice of not mentioning my employers, past or present, by name–savvy people have probably guessed my last one, but I don’t know that I’ve ever even mentioned the restaurant I worked in high school by name–but this one is a very long and winding road.

I spent last July 4 with a good friend of mine from church. He was casually making conversation when he said, "I don’t suppose you’re looking to change jobs, are you?" Well, I don’t remember anymore if that week had been a bad week or not, but it was the start of a new fiscal year and some people had been let go, so it wasn’t like I was feeling terribly secure at the time. So I guess I surprised him when I said, "Talk to me."

He said his engineering firm had been kicking around the idea of hiring a full-time IT guy, because one of his engineers wasn’t getting his projects done because people kept dragging him away to fix computers. I asked him some more about company, and frankly, the only thing I didn’t like was its location. Location was the only thing my current job had going for it; so that seemed like a good trade.

I went home and worked on my resume. And then I heard nothing.

Every once in a while the fire would get flamed again and Jon would mention they hadn’t forgotten me, but each time it turned out to be false hope.

Well, when the now-annual layoffs happened again this year, I was one of the people hit. Jon was the third person I called. I told him if they were still interested, I could start as soon as Monday and we could really get creative. One idea I floated was to work on a contract basis, paid hourly, so they could see if I was worth my asking price.

And a few days later, I got a call from the owner of the company. He wanted me to come in for an interview. I liked him instantly. For one thing, he’s 72 going on 30. While he’s got all the wisdom one would expect from someone who’s run his own business for 42 years, he has the energy and enthusiasm of a 30-year-old. He’s generous with praise when it’s appropriate. When he asked what I knew about the company, I said, "Basically what I know is what Jon told me, and what’s on your web site. I know Jon designs presses."

"No," the owner said, "Jon designs very good presses."

He took me out to lunch. At the restaurant where we went, everyone knew him by name. We were seated at a table and had soup and water in front of us within 30 seconds. I’ve read stories about this kind of thing, but never actually seen it.

My former boss called me a day or two later to ask me how it went. I didn’t elaborate a lot. I think about all I said was that I met the owner, and I like the guy, I respect the guy, but not only that, I really want to be like him. He answered with a question: "Do you know how big that is?"

As a matter of fact, I don’t know that I do. What I do know is I’ve worked for a handful of people who were two of the three. I’ve worked for people who were none of the three. While I’ve worked with people who were all three, I’ve never worked for anyone who was all three. And I figure this may be the only chance I get.

We talked again on Thursday, briefly. There were 47 other things going on that day and I probably only talked to him for about 10 minutes total. He said he still wasn’t convinced that the company needs an IT guy, but that he thinks I’m a tremendous talent, that I’m a good fit for the company, and frankly, if he didn’t move fast, he’d lose me. He said we’d talk again on Monday, and he’d have an offer for me then.

Meanwhile, I’d been filling out applications everywhere I could find on the usual job sites. I’d sent my resume to recruiters and basically done everything I did back in 2000 when I was looking for a job and I was getting so many phone calls that I was turning down an interview a day. What worked in 2000 wasn’t working at all in 2005: I didn’t so much as get an acknowledgement of existance from most of these people.

But the firm that wasn’t even hiring? It looks like it turned out to be my best option. Maybe even my only option, despite me having an inside track at one or possibly even two other places.

We’ll see what Monday brings.

But if it doesn’t work out, I don’t think I’m going to waste any more time with the job sites. I’ll do what the book recommends and rely solely on word of mouth and in-person visits. I’m a whole lot happier with what that’s turned up for me.

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