Great story and great advice! I especially agree with your implied comment about HR departments. Their job is to tell you there are no jobs. The way to find a great job is to talk with the hiring authorities–the people that can actually hire you.
I have a three page document that summarizes this approach and I’m happy to send it to anyone who requests it.
Btw, I recently retired from a 30 year career in IT consulting and training, and am currently helping several folks with their job searches.