Why Small (Boutique) means Big results in Recruitment

Posted by Red Tree on 09/09/16 in In The News


Why Small (Boutique) means Big results in Recruitment

So what exactly is “Boutique” Recruitment?

Having worked in large recruitment agencies and now running an aforementioned “boutique” one, I think it comes down to the Company (Client) & Candidate experience and how smaller, niche agencies operate and deliver.

Providing Recruitment solutions is unique in that we service and represent two parties, Clients & Jobseekers at the same time.

Both have different requirements, needs and wants but the ability to manage all of this concurrently and effectively so all sides win is key. With boutique providers, companies get ongoing access to high quality talent pools whilst candidates get presented with opportunities that are of interest, relevant and excite them.

Client Experience

Boutique recruitment providers are niche in nature, so you will be dealing with someone who knows their market inside and out, knows what you are looking for and the consultants in these agencies are established specialists in their market for a long time. They are well known to their sectoral audience and are career recruiters.

They will require very little time to be briefed on assignments as they would have familiarity dealing with similar roles. When engagement happens, you will always deal with the same person, so you will have comfort around consistency.

Boutique agencies operate in a more fluid & flexible manner versus the more rigid approach adopted by larger agencies. They take quality assurance very seriously all resulting in fast, bespoke solutions approach and successful delivery.

Generalist v Specialist

boutique agencies


Within smaller boutique agencies you will find specialist rather than generalist recruiters.

The “Boutique” approach is more attractive to recruitment consultants that like to be empowered, are self-sufficient and those who like to take personal responsibility completing assignments.

They are normally highly experienced motivated professionals who would be sector qualified and known (and would have worked) in their chosen area and have a long track record of recruiting success. They have quick access to relevant candidates through their long established networks = quicker time to hire.

They operate each assignment by engaging with and submitting a mix of active and passive candidates, thus ensuring an opportunity is amplified and presented to a wider and appropriate candidate audience.

360 Degree recruiter – These are recruiters that look after every step of the recruitment process from start to finish and thrive in a small agency environment. From initial contact with a recruiting company, to researching, screening, interviewing, presenting candidates and dealing with offer management and on-boarding at the end. In larger agencies, elements of the recruitment cycle are broken down and delegated to different people. A 360 Degree recruiter knows it is not a 9 to 5 job and go that extra mile and they take seriously the fact they are an extension of your brand in the marketplace.

Operational Environment

Boutique agencies operate by empowering highly experienced consultants and not by restricting or burdening them with daily KPIs / minimum CVs send outs, unnecessary internal meetings etc. (normally the preserve of larger agencies). Their work environment is not driven by the pressure of internal metrics, monitoring & supervision. KPI pressure tends to lead to poor service and inappropriate CVs. Boutique by its very nature is quality driven over quantity.

With larger agencies, your “contact” may be a senior figure at the start but in reality a lot of the time the recruitment work is delegated to much more junior members of staff. With boutique, the experienced specialist recruiter is also the account manager. They won’t stop until a satisfactory outcome for their clients and candidates is achieved.

Recent developments in Ireland have seen a lot of companies select their recruitment partners (or PSLs) based on track records in specific areas of specialisms and awarding mandates accordingly. In fact, it happens regularly that the larger recruitment agencies and Executive Search companies contact and mandate smaller boutique specialists to work on roles they have with their clients.

Market Information / Competitor intelligence

By focussing on niche markets, consultants in smaller niche agencies are much better placed to advise whether you are behind/in-front of the market when it comes to pay & bonus levels and benefits. They can also keep you informed on all the latest trends, data, insights and developments happening in talent acquisition.

For senior level hires and Executive Search assignments, again specialists can quickly come up with highly relevant long & short lists of targets and would also have access to strong candidate options within the Interim market, should you require that solution for your business.

Candidate Experience

For candidates, the advantages of using a boutique agency lies in the personalised, bespoke, knowledge based approach they take.

You will be dealing with a consultant that understands your background & qualifications and can therefore advise you accordingly.

You will normally only deal with one consultant who is able to expertly discuss the current marketplace and your options and will happily meet outside of hours (& weekends)

They work with candidates in an ongoing consultative and strategic way, obviously recognising straight away where their cv would be welcomed for live roles but also discussing the unadvertised job market (companies they would know of that do not have ‘live vacancies’ but would be interested in certain candidate backgrounds)

With their market knowledge they understand where the growth companies are (when and where new entrants in the sector are coming) and have access to key decision makers and talk with authority on all opportunities they work on.

CVs / Preparation for interviews – candidates receive practical advice in pulling together their CVs to reflect what companies in their sector look for and so ensuring optimum impact. You get more in depth bespoke preparation in advance of interviews resulting in better performance. Consultants in Boutique agencies take it upon themselves to spend more time “prepping” candidates ensuring higher chance of success. They will assist with the preparation of business plans (if required) and are also experts at negotiation of contracts to ensure a happy outcome.

Long Term – Consultants in Boutique agencies also look to develop long-term relationships with candidates and advise them throughout their career journey, effectively acting as career coaches. Personally, I would have dealt with and assisted candidates from entry level through to senior management/executive moves (that’s how long I am in this business !)

So for recruitment delivery & success, large size does not always equate better results, in fact, I firmly believe Boutique (Small) beats large because they are committed to offer more than just CVs and are in it for the long term. That’s why we’ll stay Boutique.

Small Boutique Recruitment







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Eamonn O’Reilly MIATI (Dip HRM) Managing Director