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Big Recruitment Agency or Boutique Agency?

Author, Singbest

Why boutique agency may turn out to be a better choice for you.

When engaging a recruitment agency, employers often find themselves in a sea of options and it can be difficult to choose one that fits them. While there are no hard and fast rules that can point you to the right one straightaway, making a choice between a big recruitment agency and a boutique agency is perhaps a good starting point.

What is a boutique agency?

Big recruitment agencies have a significant number of recruiters and cover a wide range of industries and roles, for some, they cover all industries and all roles. While boutique agencies, usually a small agency with 3-5 recruiters or fewer, focus on only a few industries or niche spaces.

No-brainer, right?

While it may seem like an easy choice to make, just go with the big recruitment agency, right? They are successful and are where they are today because they must be good at their job, right? Yes, I agree and won’t dispute that. However, I’d like to make a case that boutique agencies can be as good as the big ones, and in many cases, even better than them.

Counterintuitive? Allow me to detail my 4 reasons.

1. Industry focus

Boutique agency often specialise only in a few industries or niche domains, that focus allows them to deep dive into the industries in which they keep building on their knowledge and expertise meanwhile expanding their connections and network. If your company is from one of the industries they serve, you can expect to benefit greatly from their expertise and may find communication with recruiters easy and effective thanks to their understanding of industry and you hiring needs. In contrast, big recruitment agencies cover all or a wide range of industries, while they may have a fuller view of the job market due to their wider coverage, but they may not have sufficient understanding of your industry and therefore not as efficient in finding that talent that matches your needs.

2. More experienced recruiters

While big recruitment agencies can have very experienced and senior recruiters as well, but in general, boutique agencies tend to hire more experienced recruiters. Big recruitment agency has a much higher overhead cost, office rent, utility, supporting function, bigger management team and so on, the cost could really add up. As a result, big recruitment agencies tend to hire junior recruiters and those fresh out of college most of whom have no industry experience to keep cost low and their rate competitive, they provide on-the-job training to new recruiters who are subsequently assigned several accounts for them to manage. Boutique firms on the other hand, due to their small size, may not have training system available, they are more inclined to hire experienced recruiters who can hit the ground running and contribute almost immediately. therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that choosing the big recruitment agency doesn’t necessarily translate into having the more experienced recruiters work for you. Oftentimes, the opposite is true.

3. More customised service

Big recruitment agencies have a large pool of customers, they’re strongly motivated to have a more standardised process and service to keep their operation efficient which is intrinsically at odds with the fact that hiring needs are varied with different companies and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Furthermore, recruiters working for big agencies must meet all sorts of KPIs, sales goals and performance metrics, they are pressured to prioritize on making more transactions than finding the better fit for each customer they serve. Boutique agencies are much more flexible, they serve only a handful of customers at any given time which allow them to tailor their service to individual customer according to their needs, and their priorities are to find the best fit to retain the customer for the long term, because they don’t have a large customer base and no customer is expendable!

Moreover, recruiters at boutique agencies are more likely to have more time to deep dive into your company business, culture and hiring needs, all of which are factored into their search and selection process for a better fit.

4. Single contact point and service continuity

We all know attrition rate in recruitment agencies is notoriously high, especially at big recruitment agencies, recruiters leaving and new ones joining all the time. It means you may be assigned with new recruiter from time to time who would need time to bring themselves up to speed with your account, the disruption can lead to a lot of problems including poor hiring. Boutique agencies tend to be more stable, sometimes you find yourself working with the same recruiter for years and they become a friend, they know your company organisation, culture and hiring preferences inside out!

How do you choose?

In conclusion, working with big recruitment agencies can bring you great benefits. However, you shouldn’t write off small boutique agencies which may bring you even greater benefits, and more importantly BETTER RESULTS, especially when they specialise in your industry.

If you think a boutique agency is a good fit for your hiring needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us, leave a message and we will get in touch with you.

Visit for more. Thank you!

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