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Specialist VS Generalist Recruiters

Posted on 4/02/2016 by Jo Hodge


What is the difference between generalist and specialist consultancies and which are better for your recruitment needs?

Generalist Agencies

These are recruitment agencies that cover a broad range of job functions, industry sectors, or locations. Generalists are often the largest and most well-known agencies precisely because they cover all kinds of jobs.

Specialist Consultancies

Specialist or niche consultancies are different in that they usually focus on a particular job function, industry sector or location. For example, there are niche recruitment consultants that only cover catering jobs, or jobs in the Birmingham area.

TPP are a specialist recruitment consultancy, in that we deal almost exclusively with jobs in non-profit organisations and our candidates are experienced third sector professionals.

What’s the difference?

The services offered by generalist and specialist recruiters are generally broadly similar – the main differences between them are in the quantity and quality of candidates you are sent.

As generalist agencies cover lots of jobs across many sectors, they usually have a very large pool of candidates to draw on. While this may sound like a good thing, in practice having to wade through hundreds of CVs from unsuitable candidates with no sector experience or specialist skills can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Specialist consultancies like TPP only deal in your sector, which means that they only register candidates with relevant experience and skills in the first place. Their individual consultants will also have a much better knowledge of your sector and understanding of your organisation’s needs, as they only deal with similar roles. Both these factors result in a much more relevant shortlist of candidates.

So which should you use?

To ensure you find the right person for your vacancy, and make sure you get the best use of your time and money, it is vital to select the right recruitment consultancy from the start of the process.

Different roles may require different solutions, as generalist and specialist recruiters will offer you different audiences. Generally, a generalist agency may be better for jobs requiring a large volume of applicants and only transferable skills, while a specialist consultancy like TPP will be more suitable when you need a smaller selection of candidates with specialist skills and relevant experience.

So before you select your recruitment consultancy, it’s a good idea to consider the role you are recruiting for and the quality and quantity of response you would like to generate.

For more information on how recruiting through TPP can save you time and money, contact us at or ​020 7198 6000.