Boutique vs Large Firms: How to Choose Your First Recruitment Job 

With the job market slowly returning to its pre-pandemic state, there’s been a greater want for those on the hiring front. Recruitment is a field that’s rewarding, offers great career progression and opens the door to valuable connections – more so in the present times. Thinking about a change in career but not sure what type of firm is best suited for your needs? We’ll walk you through what you need to know before making that call!

Boutique vs large firms – what’s the difference? 

Larger firms usually have qualities that are distinct from boutique ones. Apart from the obvious difference in size, boutique firms differ from larger ones in ways such as:  

  • Employee engagement and connection: Typically, boutique firms can engage better with their staff, as they can connect with them more personally. For example, it would be easier to personally engage with every single person who works in a company of 30 people than one with 300 employees. If you’re someone who enjoys working with people and are keen to get the opportunity to learn about people’s experiences, joining a close-knitted team would be the way to go. 
  • Scale of opportunities: Boutique firms don’t necessarily lack the ability to open doors for you, but generally, larger firms deal with more established clients – allowing you to seize bigger opportunities, even at the beginning of your career. 
  • Work culture and job scope: Larger firms tend to run at a more KPI-focused – meaning you’ll need to be prepared to multitask and take on new tasks at short notice. It also means finishing things a lot quicker without being able to spend sufficient time building in-depth knowledge. This type of work style isn’t suitable for everyone, but it might be right up your alley if you’re excited by taking up challenges and juggling between various functions – learning from candidates, performing background checks, and so on. On that note, with larger firms, there will be a lot more hiring to do as you will have a larger headcount. You could be one of the many recruiters working with a more established account, however, the impact you carry might be lesser. This is something you must bear in mind before deciding the type of agency you’d like to work in, given that shortlisting, contacting, screening candidates, and finally hiring them can be a long process. Whereas if you enjoy learning about someone else’s career aspirations in-depth and would like to take the time to understand the needs and wants of your client, you might prefer working in a boutique firm that offers you a shorter job scope. This also gives you the chance to learn from candidates, take your time to understand their valuable experiences, and how you can help them progress in their careers. 

Picking the right recruitment firm: What to look out for 

When choosing a company to start your career in recruitment, here are some crucial factors to consider: 

  • Your career goals: Being a recruiter means having the chance to climb the ladder quickly, all the more if you’re good at what you do. However, in order to excel further, you’ll need rigorous, comprehensive training as you go. In larger firms, you might be able to get frequent training sessions in your team by professionals and leaders in the company. On the other hand, with boutique firms, while there might not be any grand-scale trainings, you might get one-on-one sessions with your superiors – something that is still beneficial if it meets your career goals and gives you the chance to learn from people who are not just your managers. 
  • Your personal goals: A job in recruitment will also have an impact on who you are as a person. Be sure to ask yourself what you want to get out of a career in this field. Whether it’s the lucrative pay, the connections, or using your influence to make a meaningful impact on someone else’s career – the goal is to know why you want to be a recruiter. With that, you will be able to gauge the type of recruitment agency you’d want to work in. 
  • Knowing the firm’s goals: Your goals are important – but they must also be in sync with the firm’s. During your interview sessions, ask the interviewer as much as you can about the company’s vision to see if they align with yours. Be sure to take your time to understand their values and culture. Regardless of the company’s size, focus on whether they prioritise hiring in quantities, or with quality. 
  • Company image and brand: It’s a good idea to do your homework on a potential company before joining. You might want to join a big name that’s been a leader in the industry for years, but find out what their client retention rates are, how comprehensive are the services they offer, what their current candidate database looks like, what training and resources they’ll be willing to give and whether they have a positive brand image overall.  
  • Flexibility and Mobility: In this new way of working, recruitment firms are hopping onto flexibility as the future of work. Not only does it increase employee well-being and overall satisfaction, but it also demonstrates a stronger trust in employees. It was learnt that flexible schedules at the workplace reduces employee stress by 20% and increases overall satisfaction by 62% – automatically leading to an increase in employee retention. When deciding about your career in recruitment, be sure to learn about the firm’s flexibility and mobility policies. During your interview, you can ask questions like: 
  • How many days a week do you allow work from home? 
  • Is this role one that can be done remotely? 
  • Are there any relocation opportunities within the company? 

Ultimately, whether you end up working in a boutique or a larger firm – you should bear in mind that both can propel your career growth in their own ways. Each have their own pros and cons, and you’ll need to consider all of these to decide what type of recruitment firm would be better suited for you. 

On that note, we’ve got some great news! Links International is actively recruiting for our fast-growing teams. Browse through our openings here or send your CV to our Regional HR Business Partner, Grace Wong at

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