Each year at this time I pause and reflect on something that happened over a decade ago when I co-owned an IT recruitment agency.

It was coming up to year end and we had a candidate in the running for a senior Sales Management position.  He had been through some personal issues with a recent separation and had been unemployed for 2 – 3 months before we met him, so as you can imagine, he really wanted this job.  He was an excellent candidate and was looking very good for the role.  As he kept progressing through the stages it ended up being our candidate and one other person from another agency.  We were very confident he would get the role.

The week before Christmas however, we received the bad news that the client had selected the other candidate.   It had been a very tight call and they actually came close to hiring both candidates.  We delivered the bad news as best we could and then a week or two later we closed down the office for Christmas and went on our respective holidays.

A week after Christmas, the consultant who had been working with this candidate received a call from the candidate’s father.  As things transpired, our candidate had tragically taken his own life over the Christmas break and the father had found our business card in his apartment and wanted to thank us for the effort we had made to help his son find a new role.  He knew how close his son came to getting the job and knew we had been working hard to help his son land the job.

It is difficult to explain the impact that this event had on us, and on the consultant who had worked with our candidate.  It has been many years now, but every year at this time I get a feeling of deep sadness and guilt, wondering what we could have done better.   Were we empathetic enough?  Did we try as hard as we could have?   Should we have followed him up over Christmas to see how he was going?  Could we have spent more time doing BD and found more job leads for this person?

The answer to all of those questions is undoubtedly “yes”. As recruiters we have a lot of influence and we can always do more.  There are always more calls that can be made, more candidates to check in with… more, more, more of just about everything.

Rather than feeling sad about it this year however I wanted to share the story and encourage anyone reading this blog to pause a minute and think about who you could reach out to this Christmas season.  Who do you know whose life could be changed just a teeny bit with a cheerful phone call or coffee catch up with you?  (hint: it is probably a lot more people than you would think).

So while this is a dreadful, sad story, it would be great if you could remember this when you are dealing with job seekers.  Not just at Christmas, but all the time.  If we as recruiters and hirers can be even just a little bit more empathetic, kind and considerate in our dealings with job seekers, then we can make a big difference to thousands of people’s lives.  It really is that simple.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a magnificent Christmas season with your loved ones and your candidates.


  1. Such a sad yet poignant story. I have been assisting a candidate recently whose circumstances appeared ‘normal’ on the surface. However when contacted yesterday about a delay in my client making a decision prior to Christmas, my candidate went bananas, calling me every name under the sun, both via email (5 of them) and a phone call of horrible abuse. Whilst I considered her response a complete over-reaction, I simply don’t know enough about her personal circumstances to understand the impact of this news.

    Thank you for the prompt.

  2. Soumya Venkataramanan - Reply

    The power of positive influence that we recruiters have over our candidates is immense. I have always considered my job to be a lot more than a job, it is a huge responsibility towards our candidates and without having to stress, towards the organisation too. I would like to believe that we recruiters are dream merchants. A job help candidate to achieve so many of their dreams , it is all linked, it is linked to their career aspiration, family, travel- just about everything. Therefore we must always strive to get the best that we can for our candidates. It may not always result in an offer but it should always result in hope.

    • Thank you for your comment Soumya, thinking of recruiters as dream merchants is a good analogy as you’re right – they do have the power to help people achieve many of their dreams!

      We couldn’t agree more with your statement about always striving to get the best for candidates, no matter the outcome.

      Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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