Boutique Executive Search Firm

Boutique Executive Search Firm

The executive search industry in the US is thriving as businesses compete to get their hands on talented employees. The industry generated about 15.6 billion USD in 2018 – a growth of over 50% compared to 2012 – and the numbers are expected to grow in the future as more people turn to professionals to help hire the best talent.

If you’re a headhunter or hiring manager then you must be aware of how difficult it can get for companies to find, win, and retain employees. The job of an executive company is to make the process easy and ensure you have access to what you need. Plus, working with talent providers can also reduce the cost of hiring and save time.

In this article, we’ll talk about why choosing a boutique executive search firm makes a lot of sense and how boutique firms can help your business scale effectively.  

Let’s get started:

What is a Boutique Executive Search Firm?

It is important to know the definition to understand how they’re different from executive recruiting agencies and what they can do for your business. Leveraging executive search services can easily make a break your company at a critical inflection point.

Technically speaking, there’s no difference between the two as they’re meant to make it easy to search and hire skilled employees. Nonetheless, traditionally, boutique firms are smaller and can be defined as a subgroup of executive search firms.

It ends up being about structure and branding but as a user, you will not feel much of a difference since the company would be doing what it’s supposed to do – advertise jobs, recruit and evaluate applicants, and place them into suitable roles.

Such firms can handle all kinds of executive recruitments including senior-level staff members. Many companies in the United States work with global search firms to make the search process easier and faster.

What to Consider When Hiring a Boutique Search Firms Work?

It is quite easy to work with a search firm, but it is important to know what factors to consider when selecting one. Since there are a large number of firms looking for clients, it can get difficult to find a suitable option.

Here are a few factors you must pay attention to when looking for a search company.

Nature of Services

Some firms offer limited services while some go all out to impress and retain clients. We suggest that you look for a company that offers all under one roof, from searching to retaining.

If you look around, you will find retaining service providers like Forta Search who help find and retain employees. Since high turnover can lead to losses and increased costs, it’s important to take steps to retain employees.

Associated Cost

Working with a headhunter can be both affordable or expensive. Companies use a variety of fee structures. Some will charge a fixed rate while some prefer a percentage.

Most boutique search firms charge 33% of first-year total cash compensation (bonus and base salary). Some may add additional charges for office expenses including candidate travel. 

Some firms offer both options, compare your choices, and pick what you find more suitable and affordable.


This is one of the most important factors because there is no point in working with a retained executive search firm if it does not have access to candidates in your niche. Look for a firm specializing in your industry so that you can find the best candidates for your job.

If you run a pharmaceutical firm, you should look for executive recruiters who work in this industry. They’ll typically have access to candidates with pharma experience and will make your search easier.

For example, we are a retained search firm focused on finding your next executive-level sales talent.

Geographical Location

Despite freelancing and remote work getting popular, some industries still need employees to work from the office. This is why geographical location is an important factor to consider when looking for a provider.

You should ideally work with a firm that has a strong presence in your city, i.e: if you’re in New York then look for a firm with an office in New York. Since boutique search companies are smaller, they usually do not have a global reach. A company with an office in Los Angeles or New York may not be able to entertain clients outside of the US or find candidates abroad.

However, we must mention that some firms do specialize in finding employees in a different city as it’s a part of their ‘services’. Hence, don’t write it off just because it has an office in Los Angeles or London, call the firm and inquire.

Customer Support

Pay special attention to this factor unless you enjoy waiting days to get a response to your email. Some firms can be slow and unprofessional. Plus, not all headhunters are friendly, well-informed, or skilled at handling queries.

You should ideally work with a provider who is willing to go the extra mile to help you find what you’re looking for

Why Should I Choose a Boutique Agency?

It is fair to wonder, why should I choose a boutique agency when I can choose an executive recruiting firm. The latter might be bigger in size but the former has some amazing perks:

Individual Attention

Working with a small provider gives you a chance to deal directly with the team or person leading your search project.   On the other hand, working with a large provider means communicating with someone who doesn’t know much about your firm.

More Affordable

You may actually be able to save money because boutique executive search firms are usually more affordable than large firms. However, a low price does not mean you will have to compromise on quality. You will still enjoy excellent retained executive search services for as long as you hire a reliable company.

Greater Candidate Pool

Executive search firms have a contractual and ethical obligation not to recruit from clients, a limitation that prevents them from finding your next best employee. Big providers keep ‘active candidates’ off-limits as well, which limits your talent pool. There are usually no such limitations when it comes to smaller companies. They offer a larger and often more skilled selection of candidates to choose from.

Personalized Services

Since large firms are usually more interested in growth, they often have to compromise on other factors. As a result, you may not always get personalized attention. Such, however, is not a problem when it comes to boutique executive search providers.  Their business model allows headhunters to know more about a business, which makes the process smoother.

Transparent Process

Large providers do not always adhere to an established methodology. In fact, they may not even clearly describe the process to you. They’re often more interested in getting the job done. On the other hand, smaller firms are very transparent and will answer all your questions regarding the search process and development.

Less Hassle

Working with a boutique search firm is better than working with a large firm because they focus more on engagement and less on upselling. Plus, completion rates at boutique firms are higher than completing rates at larger firms – 99 percent versus 65 percent – according to Pipeline Talent: An Evolution in Executive Search by Robert Stein. 

How do I Find an Executive Headhunter?

If you’re looking for sales talent then feel free to get in touch with us. We cater to all industries and have been working in the field for years helping companies by providing reliable global executive search services. You can also find a suitable boutique search firm by searching on the web and going through reviews and testimonials to know how reliable a provider is.

For us, it’s not only about matching resumes to openings, it’s about matching individuals to cultures. Our search consultants select the best of the best and present top candidates for consideration.

Choosing The Right Boutique Executive Search Firm

Give your human resources expert a break and work with executive search consulting firms to handle executive hiring. We’re among the best contingent search companies out there and can make your job search process easier by helping you hire your next vice president, life sciences expert, information technology officer, or top executive.

Get in touch with us today to know more about how our industry specialization senior leadership teams can help your business. We are a well-known retained executive search firm in the US and can help you save time and money while leading to breakthrough growth.