6 Signs You’ve Outgrown a Big Recruitment Agency

Life in recruitment is challenging but incredibly rewarding.
Whether you work as a junior recruiter, senior recruiter, manager or executive, you are an essential part of a rapidly evolving industry – adding real value to people in need of work or career fulfilment, and organisations in need of capable people to deliver valuable services.

And while it may seem that a recruiter’s role doesn’t change much between recruitment agencies, I’ve worked in both and can tell you they couldn’t be more different.

Working for a large multinational recruitment firm for 5 years, I eventually found myself in need of a definite change. Many factors led to my decision, but ultimately I realised that the qualities I was seeking in an employer simply weren’t possible in an organisation that manages thousands of employees across multiple countries.

If you work for a large or multinational recruitment agency and have been feeling a little unsettled lately, here are 6 signs you’re ready to move on (and up):

1. You want to be part of decision-making, for real

When you make it to a senior management position in a large recruitment firm, it’s easy to trick yourself into believing you can influence the direction of the business.

It took me a while to realise that by the time a decision reached me it had actually already been made. Engaging me was more of an after-thought or nod to being inclusive.

The truth is, the real business decisions are made right at the top and eventually trickle down to management.

In a small firm however, this is not the case. At HorizonOne, Simon and David include everyone in the decision making process – with all staff able to have a say on what they believe will and won’t work for the business.

2. You’re tired of a one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment

Many multinational recruitment agencies don’t have the structure in place to target their recruitment approach to various locations. They have an “across the board” approach, and recruiters need to follow it.

This might be fine in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. But if you’re working in a unique recruitment environment such as Canberra, you’ll know the standard approach usually doesn’t cut it. Yet regardless of your market knowledge, you still need to beat to the drum of what’s accepted across the board.

A boutique firm is founded on the unique methods it employs to provide a specialist approach in the local market, and if you find an innovative new approach to challenges, you’ll be celebrated for having thought of it – not ignored or reprimanded!

3. You’re frustrated by lack of progress

I like to get things done, so waiting for checks and approvals that sometimes take weeks and require multiple stakeholders really frustrates me.

The same goes for formal business cases to present new ideas, or having to pass ideas from one person to the next to get approval.

Now when I need something approved or have a great idea, I swivel my chair around and say “This is what I need!”. It gets resolved so much faster, and progress happens much faster too.

4. You crave diversity

In a large commercial recruitment firm, you may be a consultant or team lead or manager. Whatever your role, that’s it (day in and day out), and you rarely get to step out of the box and try anything new.

Working in a smaller agency, I’m involved in any number of projects everyday – from managing and coaching staff, to recruiting or helping out with an office-wide project such as moving to a new office location or implementing a new efficiency app.

I see projects develop from start to fruition, which is much more interesting and provides greater job satisfaction.

5. You want to report to people who “get it”

Many of the people who work in senior management roles in large recruitment firms haven’t worked at the coalface of recruitment for years. Regardless of how the market or industry has changed, they still believe the methods they used in yesteryear still apply.

In a smaller firm, leaders are often still very hands on. They may do less of the actual recruiting, but they are still highly involved in the process and understand the challenges and opportunities you face every day.

6. You’re ready to own your success

Unless you’re the director of a large recruitment firm, you may never get the credit you deserve for the initiatives you develop. Sure you may get a pat on the back from your manager, who will get a pat on the back from their manager, and so on. But at the end of the day, the people at the top always get the credit.

In a boutique agency, you can shout out to the directors “Hey, this is what I did!” and no one can or will take it away from you.

Making the decision to move from large to boutique is different for everyone, and often depends on where you are in your life or career. But if you think you’re ready, give it a go. You only have everything to gain.


If you would like to discuss what a move to a boutique agency could look like for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Andy Batstone – 0427 298 861 – andy@horizonone.com.au