Businesses have a difficult year ahead of them. Recessionary challenges coupled with rising costs and a skills shortage mean companies are less optimistic about 2023 than previous years, says Simon Swan.

Figures from JP Morgan found only 46 percent of UK business leaders are positive about the global economy this year, compared to 66 percent this time last year.

While these headwinds exist, businesses are still under pressure to deliver their growth plans, and maintaining a progressive recruitment strategy to attract top talent remains key to that.  

The recruitment market has become a difficult one for hiring managers and HR teams to navigate over recent years. An abundance of recruitment firms to choose from – latest data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation shows there’s now over 30,000 recruitment companies in the UK – and ever-growing demand for new types of skills within technology and data, means finding the right recruiter, let alone candidate for a role has never been more difficult.

In a bid to simplify the process, many businesses have become reliant on a handful of large recruitment agencies in the hope it will improve efficiencies and streamline the volume of suppliers an organisation has to manage. In reality, however, this narrow approach can make prevent firm’s from seeing the very best talent in the market.

Boutique vs large recruitment firms 

Most HR departments will see the pros and cons of using boutique and large recruitment firms. On the one hand, boutique agencies have the niche sector-specific knowledge to identify the very best candidates. But large recruitment firms have the benefit of scale, and often have more pulling power when it comes to attracting candidates, as well as being able to support large businesses with significant hiring needs. 

There is a time and a place for both types of agencies of course, but for recruitment managers looking to find the right talent in a timely manner, the challenge of choosing the right partner remains. And with the ongoing skills shortage, finding the best candidates is critical for any business. With this in mind, the benefits of using boutique recruitment firms have never been greater.

Democratising the recruitment sector

One of the biggest challenges with boutique recruitment agencies is finding the right one, and then judging their quality. With so many operating within the UK – and given 80 percent of those are micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees – where on earth do you start?

Hiring managers and internal recruitment teams under pressure to deliver the right candidate do not have time to to sieve through 100s of specialist recruiters to find the best one for each hire. That’s why a recruitment marketplace, which provides HR teams and hiring managers instant access to a rated and reviewed network of boutique recruitment firms, can help identify and reach the right recruiter, or recruiters, for any given candidate search.

The result of this on-demand, rated and reviewed network of recruitment firms means we can begin to take a merit-based approach when finding the best recruitment partner. It’s no secret that the recruitment industry struggles with its reputation as a result of a few bad apples. By choosing a recruitment marketplace, HR teams and hiring managers read reviews from other employers to be confident they are working with the right agency for each role, removing any guesswork. 

Final thoughts 

Because finding and hiring top talent is critical for any company, it is time HR leaders questioned whether sticking to a rigid Preferred Supplier List that is only reviewed periodically is the right approach to sourcing the best suppliers and, importantly, the best candidates, when they could dip their tow into the wider market easily – and in parallel to their PSL – when necessary. The good news is that, with Hiring Hub, finding and working with boutique, specialist recruiters has never been easier.


Simon Swan is the CEO and founder of recruitment marketplace Hiring Hub.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.