You’re looking to hire into your team. You need a recruitment partner to find exceptional candidates who possess the right skills and buy into your culture.
So, do you work with a generalist recruiter that covers all roles and industries, or a specialist that focuses purely on your niche or business type?
Specialist vs generalist recruiters: What’s the difference?
With involvement across numerous locations, industries, and job functions, generalists can be some of the larger recruitment agencies. Indeed, the most prominent are well known to job seekers and hiring managers. Working with a huge brand with a strong reputation might seem like the simplest, smartest option, but on the other hand, you have specialists with far more niche focuses.
Some will specialise in a certain industry, like finance or technology. Some will concentrate on specific job functions, like marketing or accounting. Others have a “generalist” focus but are dedicated to a specific location.
Your experience of working with a recruiter will vary significantly — in terms of quality, quantity, speed, and relationship strength — based on whether you partner with a generalist or a specialist recruiter.
Should I choose a generalist or a specialist recruiter?
At Richard Lloyd, we focus 100% on accounting recruitment in Sydney, which means we fall squarely into the specialist camp.
So, while we’re clearly biased, we believe that these four key reasons will convince you that working with a specialist is the smart way to go:
1. Tap into the most relevant talent pools
Generalists typically have vast candidate pools at their disposal, because they cover so many different types of roles, industries, and locations.
That might sound like a good thing. But actually, when you’re looking for the right person to join your business, it’s far easier to consider a well mapped, highly qualified talent pool. After all, no hiring manager wants to spend hours of their precious time wading through poorly suited CVs.
Because specialists are dedicated to your sector (or role, or location), they only reach the candidates who are most likely to fit your business needs.
What’s more, the consultants at specialist agencies will be better placed to understand your requirements, because they only speak to businesses like yours.
2. Benefit from a network of key relationships
Imagine you’ve landed at an airport and have hired a taxi to drive you into town. You’d probably prefer a driver who knew the city like the back of their hand, right?
It’s no different with recruiters. Specialists already know where to look for the best candidates, because they’ve built up robust networks of connections throughout their careers. They might have placed the same people into multiple jobs, starting with their first entry-level role, and progressing to more senior positions.
When you first speak to a specialist about a new vacancy, there’s a good chance they’ll already have a shortlist of potential candidates in mind.
Even if they don’t immediately know the right person for the job, they’ll be able to lean on their network for referrals.
Both of these factors mean it’s far easier for specialists to access highly skilled passive candidates — those who haven’t even contemplated looking for a new job.
That’s fantastic news for you because passive candidates are 120% more likely to want to make an immediate impact on your business.
3. Work with someone who understands your role
Every role has its own key skills and terminologies.
By definition, even the world’s best generalist recruitment consultant couldn’t possibly hope to know all of those skills and terminologies for every vacancy they encounter.
But a specialist recruiter very much can because they only focus on a single industry or function.
“Talking the talk” means recruiters are more likely to ask you the right questions in order for them to identify and speak to the right candidates in the first place.
Then, when they’ve reached out to those candidates, they’re more likely to make a positive impression — because they clearly know what they’re talking about.
That last point is really important. Unless your business is a big name, a candidate’s first impression of you might be via a recruiter. If that recruiter doesn't get it right, your brand could be jeopardised, making it harder for you to hire the best talent in the future.
4. Access key strategic insights
Now more than ever, businesses want to partner with providers that offer real value and unique insight, not just a basic service.
Specialist recruiters are best placed to do exactly that. Because they understand the specifics of your niche and work with numerous businesses like yours, they can provide information that you simply wouldn’t be able to access otherwise.
For instance, they can guide you on the types of benefits you should offer to attract the best candidates or tell you whether your remuneration package is competitive.
What’s more, specialists need to have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in their niche, so they’ll naturally know things like:
- New projects that are launching
- Companies that are planning to hire
- Where the best talent is currently working
- How candidates see your company compared to your competitor
All of this allows them to speak to you on a more in-depth level and become a trusted partner, rather than a mere service provider.
Conclusion: Which is best?
Both generalists and specialists can be fantastic at what they do; they just provide a different service. Your business needs will dictate which option is right for you.
However, as a broad rule, generalists are often better for recruiting at scale into roles that only require transferable skills.
Specialists, meanwhile, tend to excel when it comes to accessing a smaller candidate pool with highly specialised skills and characteristics.
For more information on why engaging Richard Lloyd Recruitment when hiring for your accounting team is a great choice, contact us here. Also, keep up to date on other relevant industry content on our LinkedIn page.