Engage a Generalist or Specialist: Who best fulfil your needs? | This or That

30 Jul 2021

There are hundreds of thousands of recruitment agencies in the world. Did you know that just in Singapore, there are over 3,000 employment agencies? In the United Kingdom, there are over 39,000 staffing firms in 2021! In this saturated market, how can one choose which firm is best suited for you? We can easily divide them into two groups – Generalist Recruitment Agencies and Specialist Recruitment Agencies. Let’s first define between both:

Generalist Recruitment Agencies :

These recruitment agencies cover a broad range of job functions, industry sectors, and/or locations. These firms are typically very large because of the broad coverage of jobs. 

Specialist Recruitment Agencies:

Specialist consultancies typically have core expertise on a particular job function, industry sector or location. For example, Funds Partnership Asia is a specialist recruitment consultancy that deals almost exclusively with the investment management industry across the front, middle and back offices jobs in the Asia Pacific.


With more clarity on the types of recruitment firms available, it’s important to identify what sets them apart and which one best suits your needs.

Key Differences

The fundamentals of recruitment are a very straightforward process and truthfully, does not differ between a generalist or specialist. But what sets these two groups apart is the value add they bring to their clients.

Successfully filling a vacancy is not a value add, it is an expectation when clients engage a recruitment agency to fill vacant roles. The value is shown when a specialist is able to connect their clients to highly specialised networks and introduce in-depth relationships that will help them achieve their business goals and visions.


Here is a table of summary for other key differences between engaging a Generalist and Specialist:

Key Difference between Generalist and Specialist Recruiters


Choosing the Right Recruitment Agency:

First, understand your hiring needs. What type of roles are you looking to fill – are they roles that require a specific or generic skill set? How many employees are you planning to hire? What position levels are you looking for? These are quick questions to identify which agency works best for you. 

Secondly, understand the drawbacks of choosing either agency. If you have opted for a contingent recruitment solution, (see here for Retainer or Contingent searches article), note that generalist recruitment agencies are typically dedicated to the fastest role to fill – if you’re looking for a specific talent that requires dedicated time and effort to search, you most likely will not get 100% commitment and would have to spend more time waiting on a profile as compared to engaging a specialist. Alternatively, if you are hiring for a large variety of positions outside your core-operation, specialist recruiters who only focus on a particular job function may not be as agile and fast as a generalist recruiter. 


Can we achieve the best of both worlds?

With specialist recruitment consultancy firms such as Funds Partnership Asia that cover the end-to-end spectrum within a particular industry, it does not matter what the role is about when you are looking to hire – simply because we usually deal exclusively and commit to our clients 100%. By partnering with specialist recruitment consultancy firms, we can understand your business goals, identify and curate current, potential and future hiring needs, and target the right pool of candidates to ensure longevity in your business.


If you believe that your human capital solutions can be upgraded by simply engaging a specialist recruitment consultancy firm, get in touch with Daphne at daphne@fundspartnership.com or Ayyaz ayyaz@fundspartnership.com!