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Specialist IT Recruitment vs. Generalist Recruitment: Which is Best?

5 months ago by Michael Boss

IT employers continue to feel the pressure of the skills shortage. This is reflected in the fact that the technology gap in the German economy continues to grow from 700,000 vacancies in 2023 to an expected 780,000 in 2026.

However, it’s not just small businesses that are affected by the tech skills shortage, with niche skill requirements, rapidly evolving technology and varying company service, product or geography needs, businesses of all sizes often struggle to fill their roles. This is when a recruitment agency can help. When looking to find the right supplier, a popular question that gets asked is, ‘should I use a generalist recruitment company or is it better to choose a specialist IT recruiter?’

The answer to that question is – it depends. You need to consider several factors when making that decision, including the skills you’re recruiting for, your budget, and the volume of hiring.

In this article we discuss the benefits of each option, so you can make an informed decision about which path is best for your company.

The benefits of using a specialist IT recruitment company

As organisations strive to stay ahead of the competition, especially when hiring difficult-to-find talent, partnering with a specialist recruiter is an efficient way to overcome recruitment challenges.

1.    Reduce time to hire

When hiring for specific IT talent, one of the key benefits of partnering with a specialist recruiter is the significant time savings it offers. A strong specialist recruiter will have developed niche IT talent pools, providing access to a wider pool of IT professionals within their field, be that Javascript, C# .Net, Data, or Mobile, for example. Extensive networks and resources within their niche enable the recruiter to tap into a diverse range of tech talent and build very close relationships with them. Many of these candidates will be unique, not actively looking and working exclusively with the specialist recruiter. These networks, coupled with strong expertise in the market, allow the recruiter to react quickly to your requirements, while providing the right type of candidates from the start, significantly reducing the time you take to fill your role

2.    Increased quality of candidates

As already discussed, a specialist recruiter will have in-depth expertise of their niches. This enables them to provide a higher calibre of candidate. Strong IT recruitment specialists focus on one area, building a deep understanding of the unique requirements and nuances of their sectors. This understanding enables the recruiter to understand exactly the type of candidate you need right from the start, greatly improving the quality of candidates provided.

3.     Added value

A specialist recruiter should be up to date with the latest trends and best practices, and able to provide your business with valuable insights and advice on things like remuneration, competitor trends, and EVP. This industry knowledge helps you make informed hiring decisions and stay ahead of the competition, to help you stand out.

4.    Quality and personalisation

A reputable specialist IT recruitment company should be able to offer you a better quality of service, attention to detail, and tailoring of services, because they work in partnership to understand your requirements, culture, and business goals. Personalised and tailored recruitment strategies, result in a higher calibre of candidates, fitting your company culture, requirements, and long-term goals. By reviewing resumes, screening candidates, and scheduling interviews on your behalf, it will lead to increased screening accuracy, as well as relieving the time-consuming and resource-intensive tasks. The importance of quality and personalisation, often leads to finding candidates that are not only a better quality as discussed, but also a better fit for your organisation, in turn increasing future retention rates. Retention through efficient, quality hiring, cannot be emphasised enough with the average cost and time to hire costing between ca. €3,000 to €4,000 approx. not to mention the cost of the time reviewing, interviewing, processing, as well as the onboarding, training and HR costs associated.

The benefits of using a generalist recruiter

Whereas a specialist recruiter hones in on a selection of specialist areas, a generalist recruiter often covers a little bit of everything. If the talent you are looking for is relatively easy to find or you have huge volume of unskilled or semi-skilled positions to fill, then a generalist recruiter might be for you. They often have recruiters working across multiple specialist areas, for example, they might have an IT recruiter working across a broad range of IT roles.

1.    Cost efficiency

If you are going to make a decision to use a recruiter largely based on the lowest rate you can find then it is worth looking at a generalist recruiter.
Generalist recruitment agencies tend to be much larger in size, tying all of a company’s recruitment requirements together, or all the hiring within a department. Having all your recruitment managed in one place, can bring the cost down. For large volume hiring, with a low skill level, this can be an effective route for hiring, introducing greater efficiency and direct cost savings. However, the pay off is that you will likely compromise on the quality of professionals for your more specialist or senior level hires, as this team won’t have the specialist knowledge or networks needed to understand their roles, experience, and skills. You may also sacrifice on time to hire when you have more niche tech roles, as their candidate pools tend to be too broad and low quality, to find the more passive senior candidates. As their talent pool is so large, it can mean they aren’t in regular contact with their specialist candidates to build relationships, understand their needs, and when might be a good time to help them with their next role. You may find that your point of contact changes regularly, and the attention to detail, with the ability to be agile, suffers as they are working across multiple projects, sectors, or accounts.

2.    Reducing administrative workload

Reviewing resumes, screening candidates, and scheduling interviews can be time-consuming and resource-intensive tasks for organisations. Generalist recruiters will also take this administrative burden over as part of their process especially when acting as a centralised recruitment resource for a business. By outsourcing these responsibilities to a recruitment partner, whether specialist or generalists, companies can free up their internal resources to focus on core operations, saving time and effort in the recruitment process.

Reduce hiring mistakes and set a solid hiring strategy

In summary, using a recruiter, whether a generalist or specialist will save you time and money overall. To get the most value from your recruitment supplier you need to consider your budgets, hiring needs, the roles you recruit for, and the outcomes you are expecting. For specialist, mid-senior level hiring needs, you should aim to use a specialist recruiter; when you have generalist, low level, high volume hiring needs, use a generalist recruiter.

Overall, when looking for IT skills, especially those that are difficult to find, partnering with a specialist recruiter reduces the risk of hiring mistakes and time to hire, increases quality and cost/time efficiency, and ensures value for money.
 
At Gravitas we offer specialist IT recruitment services across both contract and permanent positions. Each of our consultants only specialise in one area, within their geography, providing a deep understanding of the sectors we specialise in. Our extensive networks and resources mean we can tap into a diverse range of mid-senior level tech candidates across Germany.

Our rigorous screening and assessment processes ensure that only the best-fit candidates are presented. In fact, we’ve won numerous awards for our support teams high quality processes and compliance.

Contact our team today to find out how our team can help you with your specialist IT recruitment needs.

About the author 

Michael Boss started in recruitment in 2019 and has had a brilliant career to date including 2 promotions within 9 months and record-breaking months.
As Business Manager at Gravitas, Michael is responsible for the IT permanent market in Munich, where he works closely with both clients and candidates.

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