Boutique Search Firms vs. National Chains : Whats the Difference

Boutique Search Firms vs. National Chains : Whats the Difference

Boutique Search Firms vs. National Chains : Whats the Difference

Boutique Search Firms vs. National Chains. What you need to know is right here!

Anytime I talk with a new client that is seeking engineers or technical staffing help, the conversation inevitably touches on their prior experiences with other recruiters.

Usually, I’ll ask a simple question like “are you using any other recruiters to conduct this search?” and wait for a response.  It’s not uncommon for HR and engineering managers to tell me that they’ve tried using one of the large national chains, but weren’t happy with the results.  Why is that?

See the video blog version below.

You would think that with national coverage in every major city, the large staffing and recruiting agencies would quickly source candidates for your specific needs.  But time and again, I hear that they don’t.  Perhaps it’s because of their split desk business model – where one person does the client-facing activities and another is dedicated to lining up candidates for review.  While I certainly see the value of a team approach to technical staffing, I however believe that the best service experience for both the client and candidates is born from a singular focused recruiter.

A key part of effective engineering staffing and recruiting is having a pulse on your client’s business, the “must-haves” from the hiring manager, and a good relationship with the candidates.  Working in reasonable proximity to the client gives a recruiter a good sense of both their business model, market trends, and available resources.  This knowledge is further solidified with relationships to the hiring managers that write the job descriptions and sign off on new hires.  And lastly, recruiters that develop good relationships with candidates better understand their needs and can ensure a good fit.

For both clients and candidates, having a long-term relationship with your engineering staffing agency is vital to successful placements.  The large national search firms tend to hire recent grads that don’t know your business needs and are typically paid just enough to stick around for a short while.  I see this as a bad combination for both your hiring efforts and the candidates sourced, because the relationship is never given ample time to create a long-lasting cultural fit, but rather a one-off transaction “turn and burn”.

Final thoughts – I know it’s tempting to use one staffing agency for all your needs, as it’s easier to manage.  But ask yourself:  How long has the recruiter been specializing in your industry?  And do they have a long track record of successful placements?

This was our brief take on Boutique Search Firms vs. National Chains and the Difference, do let us know about your thoughts in the comments!


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