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Flashback a couple decades, to the September day when this IT pilot fish learns he's been laid off from his first full-time job out of college.

"I was able to find some contract work, but kept up a full press on my job search," says fish.

"Shortly after being laid off, I had an interview with a big pharmaceutical company for a position that combined some of my diverse skills -- IBM mainframe and C. The combination was fairly unique and I thought the interview went well, but then I didn't hear anything."

That doesn't really worry fish -- he still has his contract work.

Two months pass, and fish finally hears back from the pharma: They want him to come in for a second interview. It goes well, and at the end of the interview, the hiring manager asks when fish can start.

The hitch: He wants fish to start by the end of the year. Fish makes it clear that his contract requires three weeks' notice.

"We quickly came to terms on dollars and I spoke with HR, who told me to wait for the results of my physical exam and drug screen before I gave notice," fish says. "With holiday time fast approaching at my contract client, it was cutting things close to give notice and start at the new job before year end.

"Then I started getting increasingly frequent phone calls from the hiring manager, asking for my start date. Each time I explained the company-mandated hurdles that still had to be surmounted -- physical and drug screen scheduled, results returned, references checked, finalized offer -- all before I could give my three weeks' notice."

Each of those hurdles is cleared, but it all takes time, even though fish does his best to expedite every requirement.

And when the finalized offer is finally there when fish gets home one night, first thing the next morning the hiring manager is on the phone, asking if fish has given notice yet.

Fish's consulting-gig manager is on vacation, and it takes a day or two for fish to make contact and give notice. Per the contract, manager asks fish to work through the notice period. Start at the pharma by the end of the year? Not happening -- and the hiring manager isn't happy.

"I started shortly after New Year's," says fish. "I lasted about nine months there -- then returned to the client I had left for big pharma.

"I should've seen it coming -- they waited months to go forward with the hiring process and then considered it my fault that I couldn't start right away. After all, most employers treat you better before they hire you..."

Sharky wants your story right now -- really! So send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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