Former staffing firm partner launches IT-focused startup

key choice website

Screenshot of the Key Choice Group website.

A local recruiter is going the startup route after more than a decade at one of the area’s larger players in the IT staffing industry.

Kati Elder Burak launched Key Choice Group last fall after 14 years at Henrico-based Capital TechSearch.

Burak’s three-person firm, which works remotely without an office, provides IT staffing services including temporary, contract-to-hire and recruitment-permanent placement.

At Capital TechSearch, Burak worked her way up to partner as the company grew, often landing on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 list. She said it’s rare for recruiters to stay at the same place for so long, contributing to her decision to leave the company and start her own firm.

“I always had a dream of owning and building my own company. I felt like the time was right now to do it,” Burak said.

It was a switch from working at a company with nearly 50 employees and more than $4 million in annual revenue. Burak, who studied health sciences at JMU, said Key Choice has cut out a niche working with local startups that are looking to add to their staff.

She said Key Choice gives a personal experience for the workers it’s looking to get employed.

“Recruiting has historically been a very numbers-driven business. Many companies are focused on volume,” she said. “The term in the industry is ‘slinging resumes’ – the more you send out, the more you get filled.

“My company was created to get to know clients better and realize the value of their time. On average, my company will send fewer resumes, but those candidates are vetted and results are there.”

Key Choice earns its money from the companies for which it fills positions. Burak said the candidates do not pay.

She said she has confidentiality agreements with the companies Key Choice works with, but said so far it has filled positions for many local companies in security, education and healthcare.

Kati Elder Burak

Kati Elder Burak

She said the IT world is heading in a direction in which many companies have in-house IT departments.

“It’s interesting, there’s no one industry that needs (positions filled) more than another. Now we’re finding a hospital needs IT talent just as much as an IT software company does,” Burak said.

A challenge facing the company is the already well-employed IT industry. Burak said unemployment in IT is often under 2 percent, but there’s room for smaller firms to try new approaches.

“I’d love to be a change in the industry. I think it’s needed right now,” she said.

“I think recruiters are called when there’s an immediate need for a company, or if someone’s all of a sudden unemployed. My motto’s been to know me before you need me.”

Burak said she is aiming to grow her staff and client base going forward. Key Choice Group is self-funded and is Burak’s first venture as an entrepreneur.

Key Choice joins a crowded staffing market. Industry giant Randstad USA recently moved its local operations from Stony Point to the HandCraft Cleaners building in Scott’s Addition. Tennessee-based Momentum Resources strengthened its local presence after a 2016 acquisition. That same year, executive recruiting firm Bencks & Co. was picked up by Fahrenheit Group.

key choice website

Screenshot of the Key Choice Group website.

A local recruiter is going the startup route after more than a decade at one of the area’s larger players in the IT staffing industry.

Kati Elder Burak launched Key Choice Group last fall after 14 years at Henrico-based Capital TechSearch.

Burak’s three-person firm, which works remotely without an office, provides IT staffing services including temporary, contract-to-hire and recruitment-permanent placement.

At Capital TechSearch, Burak worked her way up to partner as the company grew, often landing on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 list. She said it’s rare for recruiters to stay at the same place for so long, contributing to her decision to leave the company and start her own firm.

“I always had a dream of owning and building my own company. I felt like the time was right now to do it,” Burak said.

It was a switch from working at a company with nearly 50 employees and more than $4 million in annual revenue. Burak, who studied health sciences at JMU, said Key Choice has cut out a niche working with local startups that are looking to add to their staff.

She said Key Choice gives a personal experience for the workers it’s looking to get employed.

“Recruiting has historically been a very numbers-driven business. Many companies are focused on volume,” she said. “The term in the industry is ‘slinging resumes’ – the more you send out, the more you get filled.

“My company was created to get to know clients better and realize the value of their time. On average, my company will send fewer resumes, but those candidates are vetted and results are there.”

Key Choice earns its money from the companies for which it fills positions. Burak said the candidates do not pay.

She said she has confidentiality agreements with the companies Key Choice works with, but said so far it has filled positions for many local companies in security, education and healthcare.

Kati Elder Burak

Kati Elder Burak

She said the IT world is heading in a direction in which many companies have in-house IT departments.

“It’s interesting, there’s no one industry that needs (positions filled) more than another. Now we’re finding a hospital needs IT talent just as much as an IT software company does,” Burak said.

A challenge facing the company is the already well-employed IT industry. Burak said unemployment in IT is often under 2 percent, but there’s room for smaller firms to try new approaches.

“I’d love to be a change in the industry. I think it’s needed right now,” she said.

“I think recruiters are called when there’s an immediate need for a company, or if someone’s all of a sudden unemployed. My motto’s been to know me before you need me.”

Burak said she is aiming to grow her staff and client base going forward. Key Choice Group is self-funded and is Burak’s first venture as an entrepreneur.

Key Choice joins a crowded staffing market. Industry giant Randstad USA recently moved its local operations from Stony Point to the HandCraft Cleaners building in Scott’s Addition. Tennessee-based Momentum Resources strengthened its local presence after a 2016 acquisition. That same year, executive recruiting firm Bencks & Co. was picked up by Fahrenheit Group.

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