Is Bigger Always Better? Boutique Vs ‘Big’ Business.

“…I’m big you’re small, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” – Matilda.

As Miss Trunchball so eloquently puts it in the famous book and film ‘Matilda’, the general consensus seems to be if you’re smaller you’re insignificant, a spec or blip on a much grander scale, and the worst part is, there’s “nothing you can do about it” – you can’t compete with the ‘bigger’ and ‘better’!

Well my question for this blog is does the same train of thought run through the debate surrounding third party recruiting, boutique versus large agencies? And if it does, is it warranted?

Those aware of boutique agencies, who cater to niche markets with their focus on specific areas and needs, will tend to agree that the approach they take is one that’s tailored and personal; its puts the client/candidate first. The alternative high street recruiters lay their focus on candidate reach. They hold the monopoly over brand awareness; with their big budget advertising planting their brand firmly in your mind before the kettle has even boiled for your next brew.

The question posed isn’t going to be easily answered, as both boutique and large agencies will offer pro’s and con’s for clients and candidates; it will all depend on your recruiting needs.


From a client’s perspective, the high street agencies will automatically spring to mind when recruiting. They build brand awareness very well. It must be said that they do have some strengths over boutiques, such as: they can cover a greater or ‘bigger’ geographical area, they can see to all of your recruiting needs from admin to IT (seeing your companies ‘big’ picture in terms of recruitment) and they will have a larger or ‘bigger’ candidate pool, however, none of these ‘bigger’ pro’s will necessarily guarantee ‘better’ results.

The beauty of a boutique for clients is that due to their niche nature you will deal with an expert in their field; and consistently that same person. This allows for a more in depth job search, where the consultant knows exactly what you’re searching for; ensuring the best candidate for your company. Another benefit to boutiques is the opportunity to build long working relationships, where advice can readily be given. In terms of flexibility you’ll find large agencies will have a more rigid approach to their process, whereas boutiques can mould to the needs of their clients. On the whole, Boutiques have the advantage of being able to offer an all over personal approach to your recruitment needs, offering flexibility and consistency.


For candidates, the advantages of using a boutique agency is certainly cemented in the personal approach they take. You are not simply a number on the system. Boutique agencies will invest time and energy into ensuring that, not only the client finds the perfect candidate, but also that the candidate finds the perfect role. The benefits are, to be honest, pretty much identical for both candidates and clients. The candidate will also tend to deal with one consultant – again building great working relationships – they will benefit from an expert who can advise them on things such as career mapping and the best ways to maximise your potential and they will benefit from flexibility – as consultants will be willing to talk out of hours, should the need arise.

As anyone who has watched or read ‘Matilda’ will know, you should never underestimate the little guy/gal – especially if they can move things with their mind. Size doesn’t equate results. Though high street agencies are ‘bigger’ and seem to be more accessible, thanks to great marketing, don’t neglect to consider the potential of boutiques. For a client their industry knowledge and expertise could save you both time and money. And if you’re a candidate, a consultant that’s rooting for you and willing to go the extra mile should not only make your job search more enjoyable, but also more lucrative. There’s a little bit of magic in all of us, but a boutique will take the time to find it, and then unlock it.

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