Last month I attended a conference where my personal theme for the meeting seemed to be "I applied for your job." It's a damn small world, and that's one of many reasons why you shouldn't ever be a jerk to anyone. Let me explain.
Case 1. On the first day of the meeting, I sat down with another person from my organization. She works in a different department and we've met but I really don't know her very well yet. She started just a couple of months after I did. If I hadn't gotten my job, I definitely would have applied for hers. After everyone else left, she turned to me and said, "You know I applied for your job, right?" No, I totally didn't. My boss had told me that the other top candidate also had a PhD, and I knew that she knew this person, but I definitely didn't know that it was her!
Case 2. I've interacted a couple of times, mostly online, with someone who works at a nearby organization. She was at the conference, and she had a poster right across from mine. I applied for her job.
Case 3. I was interviewed for a postdoc in 2013 and wrote about it as the "nicest rejection ever." They hired someone awesome who had more experience than me. Her poster was next to mine. I introduced myself and we chatted a bit, but we both had a steady stream of poster visitors.
I did end up talking at length to her postdoc advisor who had interviewed me. It was my first time meeting him in person. There are some intersections between my current work and theirs, so he invited me to a planning meeting later this month. He also said to let him know if I'm looking for a postdoc in the future! That was very kind and flattering.
One thing he said to me in 2013 at the end of my phone interview with him for the postdoc really stuck with me. He said, "I look forward to seeing what you do because I'm sure it will be interesting." I think I'm living up to that, and darn proud of it.
Cheers to being surrounded by people whose work excites you so much that you wanted to do it yourself! (P.S. I think I got the best job :-)