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Some years ago I was employed by a contractor company around 1.5 years long for a project. It was ended because the customer had financial problems, and he had to build down the project I was working on. The contractor didn't have another project for me at the time, thus I had to unfortunately leave. It was a good-standing leave.

Later they've tried to re-employ me again (a different department of the same customer has shown interest to me), but I worked already elsewhere and I couldn't break that job. Now they've invited me to their company Christmas party.

I would like to show my best side for them. On the party, they will probably ask, in informal context, how is it going to me. But, my answer will probably affect my chances in the future. And, I think it would be the best if I would show myself the possible most useful for them, to maximize the chance of a possible new offer.

Actually, my things aren't going very well, I work mostly on project-based jobs for contractor (outsourcing) companies and I am quite lucky if can I find one where I am accepted by both the contractor and its customer.

Currently I try to extend this with freelancing projects which I've found much harder to get and solve, as I ever thought.

They probably know these on informal channels (this region hasn't a very big IT industry).

Furthermore, I am a foreigner (Auslander) programmer in Germany, and I think it is a big honor that I was invited to their Christmas Party, despite that I am not working for them any more. It is highly uncommon here. Actually, they are the only company in Germany where I think I have also a personal sympathy and not only a professional relation.

What to do? If I am honest and answer clearly, I will maybe underestimate myself in their eyes. Furthermore, I can't admit that I would be most happy if I could get freelancer jobs, because it is not their business model.

Furthermore, there is nothing here about a possible new offer, it is only a Christmas Party and I think it wouldn't be ethical to use it as a job interview poker. But my behavior and my answers will unavoidably affect our relations in the future.

Furthermore, also they have some interesting developments: they've organized the Party in a nearby city where they weren't really active in my time. Its probable reason is that currently most of their employee working there, and not in my region. Also I am considering to move there, because it has a much better job market. It would be nice to ask them from that, to know what do they see there, but I am not sure if I can ask it, and how deeply if yes.

I think, a direct ask for their business situation probably wouldn't sound well, while if I show interest to this city, yes. But where is the border between these?

  • Just a note from an english native speaker - you probably mean "invited" rather than "called". "Invited" means you have a choice in the matter, someone has extended an invitation to attend the Christmas party. "Called" implies you have very little option in the matter, you have to attend at their will. – Moo Dec 19 '16 at 14:45
  • Just be honest. Honestly is usually apprecaited. – WorkerDrone Dec 19 '16 at 16:47
  • Tell them that you are doing well - but if an offer from a nice company came around the corner, you would love to continue working for them :-) – michi Dec 19 '16 at 21:33
  • It may be due to a clerical error. You might still be listed as an employee of theirs in a forgotten database somewhere. I'd suggest calling or emailing to verify that your invitation stands. I'm assuming you were invited by (snail/e)mail of course, rather than by phone. – rath Dec 21 '16 at 10:21
  • @rath I emailed a positive "thank you, I will be there" on the spot. Only later I've thought that maybe they committed a mistake. They didn't react that mail. The problem is that asking about clarification had mean, that I question their precision, which had seem bad if it wasn't a mistake. I considered this more dangerous, as to visit the party semi-unwanted. I still don't know if it was a mistake or not, although now I think it is more probable that it was (they have another foreigner employee with the same family name as mine). – Gray Sheep Dec 28 '16 at 4:30
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They are either genuinely nice, or genuinely in need of a good contractor, or quite possibly both. So you should go to that party, enjoy it, get no more than minimally drunk, and expect that someone will talk to you about contracting for the company.

  • 4
    Unless it's a startup that moved to Berlin, in which case you should go and be nice and party hard, because that's the usual culture in these places. :) – simbabque Dec 19 '16 at 14:15
  • 1
    @simbabque They are an old, small (*), German company which was a startup in the era where they've used (West-)Deutsche Mark and not Euro. Some years ago things weren't going very well for them, but this status is already a very big honor in this region. I think their main problem is that this region in Germany aren't working so well as it did 30 years ago. | "small company" means here <200. – Gray Sheep Dec 19 '16 at 14:41
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    @MorningStar What this answer said is spot-on. Go there, talk to them, don't get too wasted and make a good impression. If they are that old and the same people are still around then they probably value their contacts. Those will be the kind of people that keep business cards around and think about their old friends. It's nice that that still exists. – simbabque Dec 19 '16 at 15:33
  • @simbabque Well, the Berlin-version happened :-) But it wasn't my mistake, I didn't want to drink so much, they wanted :-) Details. – Gray Sheep Dec 28 '16 at 4:39
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Never say never.

You may not see anything future wise at the company now, but things change. Keep what appears to be a positive relationship open. If they discuss contracting, listen politely and state "I will consider it and get back to you".

In short if your comfortable with it, go and have some fun. Relax and catch up with your former co-workers and friends.

  • I've seen some old faces, but actually I've talked mainly to new people. Only the boss and the most important admin people were old. Well, it is a contractor company, the fluctuation is big here. – Gray Sheep Dec 28 '16 at 4:43
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Show up

It sounds like you're interested in potential future offerings, and would like to genuinely go to the party. Go.

Even if you are not actively looking now, not going would be one of the quickest ways to show disinterest in future opportunities and burn bridges with the company and people in question. This is an excellent networking opportunity, and it sounds like you are actually interested in what they have to offer.

It hams no one to listen to their offer.

While you may not be currently looking, it doesn't harm them to inform you of the position they have, and it doesn't harm you to listen to it. If they bring up a potential contract, simply positively reply, "I am currently on a project, but I would be happy to hear the details." Even if you do not have the capability yourself to accept the position, it may be that you would be able to consult part time, or refer another candidate who would fit the description.

They may even surprise you, and you may find that they have a position that could tempt you from your current contract. If there are legal difficulties in extricating you from your current contract, that may be something they can help with as well. You may be able to say something like: "I am very interested in this position, but would be able to start XX months from now. I might be able to start sooner, but would need a $YYYY signing bonus to compensate for these difficulties I will have by terminating my current contract, and I would still need ZZ amount of time in order to provide an ethical amount of notice, and train a replacement."

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Result

  • They have a new, also foreigner employee with the same last name.
  • I've toke part on the Party.
  • I've drank a lot, although also they.
  • They were friendly, although they've seem a little bit surprised.
  • There is only a nearly-zero chance of a new offer, because with the change of their focus city, they've made also a technological specialization which significantly differs my main profile. :-(
  • I didn't ask if their invitation was a mistake, because it had seem I question their precision if it wasn't. Although now I think it is more probable that it was.
  • I've seen some old faces, but only with the boss and some important admin people I had work contact earlier.

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