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Working for a ‘Global Recruitment Business with a Boutique Feel’ - what does that even mean anyway?!

As a British recruiter in London, I’m used to blending in; as an Aussie friend’s friend told me when I first moved here, “I’m not special”. I should add that this was actually said with the intention to reassure rather than anything negative, in response to a conversation about being self conscious of my accent when spending time 400km into New South Wales’ countryside! The same can often be said of ‘just another recruitment agency’ out there amongst all the noise. What I was reflecting on recently, however, is what is special about what MMK has to offer...the perfect blend of being a global business with a boutique feel. That’s something that I write often in my blogs and social media posts, but it’s genuinely true so I thought I’d explain it further.

Of course, no doubt, some of these advantages would apply more broadly beyond the recruitment industry, but I will focus specifically on the world of recruitment.




recruitment agencies

Benefits of being part of a boutique recruitment firm:


  • Flexibility. This is typically higher in smaller firms, with many of the large corporates still struggling to break past the micromanaging rigid confines of traditional sales roles. You have to be seen at your desk beyond your core hours and 2 minutes late in the morning leads to eye rolls or thinly veiled passive aggressive comments. In a world where we are constantly consulting our clients on how important flexibility is to attract top talent, the boutiques are ahead here in the recruitment world.

  • Agility. Smaller recruitment businesses can be more nimble in responding to changes in the industry or their clients’ industries, and therefore changing marketing strategies accordingly or swiftly rolling out new processes.

  • More exposure to senior leaders, more frequently. It makes logical sense, the smaller the business you’re in, the more time you get, and therefore the more opportunity you get to learn from the senior leadership. Boutique businesses tend to be less hierarchical in nature due to their size, and as long as the structure is set up correctly where senior leadership are focused on their people, rather than delivering themselves, there should be plenty of chances to take advantage of all that expertise.

  • Feel more connected to the purpose of the organisation. It can be hard to feel as connected to an organisation’s purpose when there are umpteen layers between you and the decision makers, whereas typically in a boutique firm you would be more quickly informed of strategic plans and better yet, consulted and involved in the decision making process itself. How much more rewarding is going to work everyday if you feel like you’re personally involved in shaping the success of your business?

  • Get involved in broader things. The role of a recruiter when you’re in the early years has some challenges, but when you get to diversify how you operate and really build your brand through areas that you’re passionate about, again your day to day becomes much more rewarding. That might be through running external events for clients or candidates, to upskilling your colleagues in a recruitment skill or tool you use everyday, or leading an exciting project that you’ve built a business case for. Again coming back to agility, these things are easier to adopt in a boutique business.

  • Tailored career progression and development plan, based on you, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This is fairly self-explanatory but worth highlighting as it can become much more rigid in a large corporate organisation, whereby to be successful there is only one path outlined.

  • High levels of specialisation and more freedom and ability to tailor service to the client and candidate base. Again, self-explanatory and something the boutiques generally have more freedom to work with, rather than sticking to set ways of working.

  • Better commissions schemes. In most cases, higher percentages will be paid out in commission for the same billings.

  • Collaboration, rather than competition. This obviously isn’t a blanket rule and in larger corporates there tend to be pockets where this happens well, and others where an unhealthy internal competition exists rather than focusing on collaboration for the good of longer term relationships and the business. Due to a number of the elements above, employees are interpersonally and financially incentivised to have each others’ backs more commonly in boutique businesses.

morgan mckinley recruitment team

Benefits of being part of a global recruitment business:


  • Clear structure and transparency of career progression opportunities. You would generally know what the next level you’re striving for and how you can go about achieving this. This can get lost in a smaller boutique with less structure.

  • Support functions to add expertise and/or strip away tasks outside of the core recruiting role. For us this includes Marketing, L&D, Finance, Contract Administration, Talent Acquisition and more! For those who aren’t used to this luxury, some examples of what this means in practice include:

    • Our marketing division are constantly upskilling us on how to build our personal brands and add value through our insights (blogs, events, partnerships etc)

    • Award winning training and development (Emerging Leaders in Singapore and a snazzy e-learning platform to name a couple)

  • Brand reputation, making the start of every business development call that bit ‘warmer’. Of course there are some people that love the coldest cold BD but for most of us, having some element of familiarity (and positive familiarity far more importantly) goes a long way to a successful new relationship.

  • Work actually comes to you, rather than having to hunt tirelessly for every bit of work! Of course there are exceptions and there is always plenty of scope to further build out brand new relationships, so you aren’t bound by any means. Related to this you have access to PSAs (and the ability to get onto PSA panels given the support functions and expertise in the business), and vast existing networks globally across candidates and clients.

  • Add value through insights into recruitment and industry trends from overseas. We are always looking at what insights are relevant from our overseas counterparts to make sure we can share these with a global lens, rather than just an Australia one.

  • Global mobility. Many might argue that this is something that, even in global businesses, does not often come into fruition in reality, however we have an ethos of making it happen wherever we can. In the 9 months I’ve spent at MMK, I’ve seen people who have made the permanent move from Dublin and Tokyo, through to fixed term contracts whilst visiting on a working holiday visa from Cork, to lots of global visitors whilst on holidays overseas. As a fun fact, we have had two APAC COOs who started their careers with Morgan McKinley at our London offices as Associate Consultants. They both progressed through each of the steps and transferred to our offices in Hong Kong and Singapore. Once you have been a Consultant with us for one year, you are eligible to be considered for opportunities in most of our global offices.

This final point leads me to what prompted this particular blog at this particular was made clear to me whilst I was in the interview process with MMK that they’d be more than happy to facilitate me working in the London office when I was back home visiting loved ones. Less than a year on and that is a reality - MMK have made it possible for me to head home for the best part of a month without using all my annual leave in one go, which I’m hugely grateful for! It’s a demonstration of the best of both parts, the global infrastructure and the boutique flexibility.

A small amount of MMK context to wrap up:

MMK globally is older than me (just, unfortunately!), starting in 1988 and growing continuously meaning we now have offices in Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Shanghai, Singapore and the UK. That being said, it might come as a surprise to some that locally in each location we are not a huge corporate beast where you are simply another cog in the machine. We have a global team of over 800 and here in Sydney we are a team that totals 50, of around 40 Consultants.

Hopefully it goes without saying that I believe we possess all the best of both worlds outlined above and I’d be more than happy to share any further insights with anybody keen to join #TeamMMK or just find out more.

I will be in London the week of the 10th of June and happy to have a coffee about Sydney opportunities with any experienced consultants.

Reach out to me on now for a confidential discussion.


  • Jun 08, 2019
  • Careers , Culture , Australia , UK
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Vanessa Harding-Farrenberg

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