Talent Trends in Private Equity: Acquisition, Retention & Building Culture in Today’s Market

In the current market, the labor dynamic is ever-changing, and organizations with the best talent strategies win. The Healthcare Technology team at Direct Recruiters, Inc. had the opportunity to interview several leaders within the Private Equity Healthcare investment space to discuss their perspectives. Industry leaders shared knowledge and helpful insight on acquisition, retention and building culture for today’s hiring landscape.

Jump to Interviews:

DRI’s Healthcare Technology team recently had the opportunity to interview Virgil Bretz, CEO of MacroHealth. Offering helpful insight, Virgil shared thoughts on company culture, leadership, hiring, and the overall outlook of the healthcare IT landscape.

Founded in 2017, MacroHealth is on a mission to modernize healthcare, making purchasing and selling healthcare services simple and powerful for the healthcare finance professionals who are dedicated to guiding members and patients to the best care, at the best price, for the best outcomes. Through their innovative MacroHealth Intelligent ExchangeTM (MiX) platform, they enable health plans, self-insured employers, network organizations and providers to transparently collaborate on a single platform.

A first-of-its-kind SaaS platform, MiX leverages data science and industry standard interoperability to create an Intelligent Health Market™- a transparent digital healthcare ecosystem where all players able to easily leverage key data to make informed business decisions and collaborate with best-in-class partners, enabling them to win.

Virgil Bretz, CEO

Talk about your company culture and what makes MacroHealth unique.

MacroHealth is a healthcare IT company creating an intelligent, SaaS solution to bring desperately needed optimization and connectivity in the U.S. healthcare industry. What’s unique about MacroHealth is that our team is located across the United States and Canada, and is a mash-up of people with deep healthcare and deep technology experience. We have had to work hard to bring all of these people together and align our mindsets to create one of our core values, which is “One Team:”

  • We act as one team with our fellow MacroMates, customers and partners
  • We value humility, low ego, and collaboration
  • We are All for One, and One for All

We are proud that earlier this year, we were recognized as a 'Best Employer' for both the Province of BC, where most of our product engineering team resides, and nationally in Canada. MacroHealth tends to attract people for a couple of reasons: In MacroHealth’s stage of development, we are not an early start-up, as we have blue chip clients and GTM fit, but we are still in the start-up stage, and it is a very exciting time for our team. Professionals who don’t want to work in a huge company get the best of a start-up and a stable employer. In addition, MacroHealth attracts those who want to make a difference in healthcare. Our team’s work measurably improves healthcare access, reduces costs, and in the future will improve healthcare quality.

What are the main traits/experience you look for in leaders?

MacroHealth looks for people who can demonstrate the ability to be confident, strong-willed collaborators. These individuals have strong opinions but work well with a team for the benefit of the team first, always. In addition, we look for leaders with a track record of delivering on promises, with a sense of urgency. We have a term called ‘Macro Thinking,’ within our team which is keeping a growth mindset, and connecting the dots between their work, the work of our organization, working with our clients, and ultimately our responsibility to make healthcare better for everyone.

What is the biggest issue on your plate in regard to hiring?

Finding and earning great talent is a huge challenge! The broad acceptance of remote work has expanded the geographical market for where we can hire most of our roles. This increases the chances of fantastic two-way fits, where we can find the best possible person for MacroHealth while being the best possible job and team for our ideal candidates. On the other hand, with increased remote work, the team needs to work hard to understand who the new hire is, their style, and how effective they will be without working together in person. On another front, hiring was extremely competitive over the past two years, but this competitive pressure is easing slightly as we continue to hire while many organizations are holding or shrinking their teams.

What are the biggest trends you're seeing in healthcare technology?

Healthcare is driven by exploding costs, an aging population, incredible advances in medical science, and of course, a global pandemic. This is a time of incredible change in our industry. Focusing on healthcare information technology in particular, there are a few current trends to highlight.

  • Consumer Experience: The recent announcement of Amazon buying One Medical is one more headline illustrating what most of us think: the healthcare consumer experience has a lot of room for improvement. Challenges to finding providers, scheduling, long wait times before, during, and after treatment, and unpredictable pricing are just some of the factors. It can often feel like consumers are working for the current healthcare system and not the other way around. Over the past year I have heard most of our clients and partners talking about IT solutions to improve customer experience and the member journey.
  • Interoperability: Our industry still works on a pre-internet, pre-API, non-real time architecture. EDI and X.12 are decades old, and this is inhibiting real-time customer experiences. For example, imagine if you called an Uber, and its data updated once a day! That second-by-second, real-time experience would be impossible in most of the healthcare industry today, so a huge trend is transitioning to modern interoperability standards.
  • Transparency: There is a bi-partisan, government-driven push to increase the transparency of contractual pricing between Payers and Providers. Consumers, but also even employers and other health plan sponsors, have far too little information about how much healthcare will cost before, during, or even shortly after a medical event.

Healthcare IT can make an incredible, positive difference on all of these issues.

What do you look for in a partnership with an executive search firm?

MacroHealth looks for an executive search firm to invest time to understand us and our team. We look for a high EQ on understanding cultural fit. In addition, our partners need to have a proven ability to find and earn trust with passive candidates, which is hard. We look for them to focus on timely delivery and completion.

Christian Kurth, Vice President
JMI Equity

What are the main traits/experience you look for in leaders?

We look for leaders with a strong track record of success in their prior work experience. That is goal #1. An added benefit is if that individual has domain expertise – we love finding leaders that have grown up in an industry or have “lived experience” in a particular space or sector. This allows them to clearly articulate and anticipate the trends, dynamics, challenges, and opportunities of that particular industry better than we as outside investors could. Executives need to do many things, including setting strong goals and a vision for their company and effectively leading people, but to me, the most important trait is self-awareness. No one is a superstar in every aspect of their job – leaders that identify where they excel and where they need to lean on the strengths of their team are the most effective in my experience.

What is the biggest issue on your plate in regard to hiring?

Speed. We are coming out of the most competitive labor market in recent history (maybe ever) where demand for talent has outweighed supply and employee fluidity has been at an all-time high. It is increasingly difficult to, 1.) hire well, and 2.) do so quickly. We work with our portfolio companies on building efficient and repeatable recruiting and interviewing processes so they can extend offers to candidates swiftly and with conviction. This is a critical component of scaling growth stage companies, as organizations with best-in-class talent lifecycles outgrow their competition.

How are you helping employees avoid burnout?

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet answer to this question. That said, I’ve been incredibly impressed with the creativity exhibited by our portfolio companies around this topic. Some unique ideas include, picking a day for no internal meetings (i.e., no Zoom meetings on Fridays) or shortening internal meetings all together (i.e., doing 45-minutes vs. an hour to give people time to recharge in between meetings). It’s also critically important to have a robust benefits program available to employees, including a defined employee mental health strategy and resources that are actively promoted and easily accessible. Finally, it’s essential that leaders, and especially front-line managers, exhibit empathy and ensure flexibility for their teams. The traditional 9 to 5 is becoming a somewhat antiquated practice, so exhibiting flexibility and empowering employees to take control of their daily work schedule can go a long way in reducing burnout.

What do you think is going to be the next big innovation in healthcare technology?

I’m not sure if this is as much an innovation vs. a trend, but I believe there will be a renewed focus on clinical efficacy and quality as the digital health market matures. The pandemic spurred a tidal wave of innovation as virtual-first care took off to meet the needs of patients and members who were isolated or unable to access traditional care modalities – mental / behavioral health being probably the best example. While the growth in virtual care has greatly expanded access to care, I believe the conversation will shift from focusing on access to focusing on clinical efficacy and outcomes. The digital health vendors that can consistently deliver superior care quality and outcomes will rise to the top and achieve lasting market leadership.

Gordon Crenshaw, Principal
Blue Heron Capital

What are the main traits/experience you look for in leaders?

As a baseline, we look for leaders with a track record of success in their prior work experience. A history of promotions and extended periods of time within the same organization are key. We orient ourselves to references more than anything, both from managers as well as the individuals that a leader managed. We like both top-down references as well as bottom-up references. Ultimately, we look for executives as leaders of people, so experience and track record of how a leader manages people and how he or she manages up is extremely important.

What are your onboarding best practices to ease the transition between companies?

We hope the new leaders of our companies get inundated with as much information as early and often as possible, participating in meetings on day 1 and integrating them into the workflow of a business. With that being said, we want that period of time to be reserved for listening and learning; a little bit of walk before you run. It is difficult not to fall into the trap with a new leader of sprinting towards some company objective or goal, but if you are hiring talented leaders, you want them to be able to weigh in on if we are even running in the right direction in the first place.

What do you think is the greatest cause for turnover?

We think the greatest causes of turnover, especially in new hires, are not some of the most obvious, like compensation or culture clashes. What we see as the greatest cause is not being crystal clear on expectations of the job requirement. It’s critical that the preparation for a new hire includes spending a significant amount of time on the job req, roles and responsibilities, as well as making sure the board and leadership team are rowing in the same direction in terms of what will be asked of a new leader or employee. We find that it is this misalignment of what a candidate believes the job is versus what it actually is that is the biggest cause of turnover.

What do you look for when partnering with an executive search firm?

The key word in the question is ‘partner.’ You have to take the viewpoint that your executive search firm is not just a service provider but someone that will work collaboratively with you to build the best organization possible from a talent perspective. At the stage we invest in (early stage, growth stage businesses), many of our leadership teams don’t have significant experience working with an executive search firm, so it is a learning process. We don’t just want our executive search firm to identify great candidates and get to an offer as quickly as possible. We want help with that initial leg work of designing and implementing an effective process. The key for us is a partnership mentality with a great executive search firm.

What is the biggest issue on your plate in regard to hiring?

Given the incredibly tight labor market we’ve been in for the past several years, access to great candidates has been a challenge, but it always will be. We live in a competitive world. For our early-stage businesses, speed is the most challenging aspect of the hiring process. Given the way we like our companies to hire, the importance of culture, the importance of clearly defining expectations of the job, and making sure we don’t miss on a new hire, it has been difficult to keep up with the pace with which people will meet a candidate and lob in an offer. Ultimately, we’re in the people business, and you win or lose based on talent. So, for us right now, speed is the most challenging aspect of the hiring market.

Returning to Work After Parental Leave

April 28, 2022

By Christy Pashkovskiy, Director of Marketing

Returning to work after an extended leave can be a tough process. Those with the luxury of family leave time after the birth or adoption of a child may be out of the office and out of their work routine for months, so the transition back can be intimidating. With preparation and managing expectations with yourself, your supervisor and your team, returning to work can be a manageable and even rewarding experience.  

Below we have outlined helpful tips for employees to make a happy, productive, and successful return to work after leave, as well as best practices for companies to assist employees in the transition back. 

Employee Return to Work Basics 

Start planning for your return to work at the end of your leave. While it may seem daunting, preparation is key to a smooth transition back to work. Below are six things to do before your first day back. 

  • Reach out to your HR department. In some situations, there may be paperwork to fill out, the need for a healthcare provider sign-off, and confirmation of the date you are starting back. Discuss any questions and/or concerns you have with your HR manager. 
  • Call your immediate supervisor. Instead of waiting until your first day back, give your boss a quick call to communicate when you will be returning, and share any changes to your schedule that may need addressed.  
  • Get in touch with members of your team. To ease yourself back into the work culture, have a few conversations with co-workers to catch up on current projects and any major changes that may have happened since you have been gone. 
  • Lock in your childcare plans. An obvious, but sometimes difficult task, deciding on the right care for your child may be one of the most important things to figure out before your return to work. Be sure to test out your options and line up back up plans. You also may need to write out important contact info for the childcare provider, and details about your child that are necessary to know (such as sleep and eating routines, allergies, etc.). 
  • Develop a plan for pumping if needed. Those who breastfeed may need to put together a plan and schedule to do so. Important points to cover with your employer are scheduled pump breaks and a private space to pump. If this applies to you, organize your intended process and make sure that you have a bag for your pump, storage for milk, water and brainstorm snacks to take into work.  
  • Go through a practice run. Maintaining a routine will help both you and your child to adjust to your return to work. Going through your new process as a trial run will give you the time to work out anything unexpected and help you develop the right routine for your family. Think about things like dinner prep and your personal work wardrobe. Anything that can be simplified will help you in the long run.  

Employee Mental Health 

Anyone who has gone on parental leave and returned to work will tell you that it has its challenges. Some adapt easier than others but being in a good mental state and getting the help you need to accomplish that is important for you to put your best foot forward.  

  • Manage expectations with your employer. Have a discussion with your boss and ask for flexibility if needed whether you need to work different hours, consider part-time or a different flexible arrangement.  
  • Reach out to others who are going or have gone through the same situation. Friends or co-workers who have also gone on leave and returned to work can be a great support system and offer helpful advice in successfully returning.  
  • Make time for yourself. If you are emotionally drained, returning to work will be even more challenging. Try to get rest when you can and take time to do something fun for yourself periodically, even if it is something small.  
  • Expect change. You may feel a range of emotions as you transition back to work. Give yourself grace and know that it may not feel the same as it did before. You will create new routines and habits that work best for you and your family.  

Employer Best Practices 

As outlined above, returning employees have likely been out of work long enough to have significant obstacles and challenges to overcome in their return. To ease the stress and have a better chance of retaining these employees, there are various steps employers can take to make their return to work a better process. 

  • Offer substantial leave. While there are numerous caveats surrounding parental leave, companies who offer an attractive leave policy have a better chance of retaining high-performing employees. A paid leave policy with plenty of time off is a great way to stand out among your competition as an employer.  
  • Communicate. Although people who are on leave may be busy with a new child, it is important for employers to check in periodically throughout leave to understand how the employee is feeling and where they are mentally. This communication should continue and increase as the return-to-work date gets closer. Even a running document of updates, new projects, team wins, and more is helpful to put together for a returning employee.  
  • Offer flexibility for those returning to work. As mentioned above, employees may be more comfortable with a flexible schedule, remote work or other work arrangements upon going back to work. Some companies even build in a transition period with returning employees working part-time for a number of weeks before going back to full-time. Employers who are understanding of new circumstances for their employees and build in flexibility will reap the benefits when it comes to retention and employee engagement. 
  • Encourage support and community. Many employees will go through a leave time period and return to work at some point in their careers. Employers can help to set up sharing groups between these employees to help them overcome challenges, exchange advice and have discussions.  

Parental leave is an important topic to consider for employees at their current organization, those searching for new roles, and the employers themselves. With time and thought, the return-to-work process can be successful for both the employee and employer. 

Benefits of Job Searching with a Recruiter

Headhunters, Career Consultants, Unicorn Finders. Whatever you call them, recruiters are in high demand as the surge of open roles overtakes the lack of talent in the candidate pool. As a candidate in this market, you’re probably receiving calls, emails, text messages, and more from various recruiters who are trying to pitch you a role they’re working on. If you’re searching for a change in your career, here are 5 reasons why you should work with a recruiter on your next job search.

Additional Opportunities

Due to the high-impact nature of their available roles, employers don’t advertise their available positions and instead elect to work with a recruiter to source potential candidates. As a job seeker, if you choose to work with a recruiter during your search, you’re more likely to have access to those prized roles.

Save Time

Finding a job can be a long, tedious, and sometimes frustrating process but by establishing a working relationship with a recruiter you can save time and energy in your job search. As recruiters, our job is to find candidates whose background and experience match our open roles. We streamline the process for you and only offer opportunities you would be well-suited for.

Expert Advice

At DRI, we pride ourselves on being industry experts. This means we understand the culture, role, and expectations of your intended employer. We’re here to coach you through your interview and negotiation process to help you land your dream role. With over 39 years of experience in interviewing, consulting, coaching, and negotiating, we can confidently offer you advice and insight to help you land your dream role.


Many times, candidates are looking for new opportunities while still employed. When you opt to work with a recruiter, you can ensure that there is little to no risk of your current employer finding out as we don’t blast your resume out where your employer could potentially find it.

Shared Interest in Your Success

When working with a recruiter, you can be sure that you both have the same goal: to place you in a job that is a perfect fit. Recruiters are invested in your success as it guarantees an accomplishment for us as well. We’re not here to waste your time as our end goal is find a career match for you.

A good recruiter will help to alleviate the stress of job searching, not add more. At Direct Recruiters, our team of recruiting experts are dedicated to helping you find the best career fit for you. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to our team of talented recruiters today.

Best Practices for Quitting a Job You Just Started

December 16, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

Starting a new job can create mixed emotions. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed with feelings of excitement and anxiety but what happens when the excitement fades and the anxiety remains? Admitting you made the wrong choice in choosing to accept a job can be scary and finding out the job doesn’t meet your expectations can be disappointing. Before beginning the job resignation process, reflect and make sure that there are no other options. In the end, you have to move forward. Here’s how to diffuse the situation in the best way possible

Resign In Person… but also In Writing

You will need to draft a resignation letter when quitting your job for it to be considered official. When writing your resignation letter, make sure to use professional language. If you include a reason, make sure it acceptable. You should avoid criticizing comments about the company or coworkers. It is standard to give at least two weeks’ notice, however it is recommended to render a month of service before the resignation date to give your employer time to find a suitable replacement.

Have an Action Plan

Leaving a job after only a few months is tricky but sometimes it’s the best option. Make sure you have a plan in place that reflects the reality of starting the job search over. While two weeks is considered standard, a company is not obligated to keep you on or pay your notice after a short tenure. Make sure your prepared to potentially lose your income on the day of resignation.

Honesty is the Best Policy

An exit interview is standard for any resignations. These are designed to help your employer understand what happened so they can improve in the future. Be honest with your employer in a professional and respectful manner. Many times, people may choose to leave a job due to office environment, management team, or job tasks not being what was promised. Be prepared to explain why you’re leaving and offer any feedback to assist the company in the future.

Whether you have plans to stay within in the same industry or not, it’s best to avoid burning bridges. Finish the time at your job with a positive and professional attitude. Sometimes the jobs we end up with don’t meet expectations or sometimes it isn’t a good fit. It’s not illegal to quit this quickly so when you find yourself resenting your current position, its best to get back out there and keep looking. For both employer and employee, it’s better to cut the relationship off soon after discovering that it just doesn’t work.

The Art of Negotiation

November 18, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

Hiring Managers rarely make their best offer first, and candidates who negotiate their salary tend to earn more than those who don’t. Most often, people who at least attempt to ask for a higher salary are perceived more positively because they are demonstrating the skills the company is hiring them for. So where do you start? In this blog, we will outline our best tips for negotiating salary.

Do Your Research

Before beginning the negotiation process, and in most cases, before the first interview; conduct some preliminary research. There are many resources available online that can provide estimations of salaries based on role and location. If working with a search firm, the recruiter should be able to advise you on a salary range for the position you’re interviewing for. At Direct Recruiters, we offer free, downloadable Salary Guides for a variety of industries that we serve.

Don’t Talk Money Too Early

You should never ask about salary during the first interview. While we all want to earn more money, no hiring manager wants to hire someone who’s only motivation is money. In many preliminary interviews, the hiring manager may ask about your salary requirements. This where your research becomes helpful! Try to give a range that’s indicative of someone in your position and with your experience applying for this role. Your goal when negotiating is to find the balance between what you’re worth and the employer’s budget.

Sell Yourself with Confidence

As you go through the interviewing and negotiating process, remember to continuously sell yourself. Perhaps you have certain skills and experience that would eliminate the need for an outside vendor, leverage that. Justify your request with confidence. When you make request, don’t go on and on stating why its justified. Offer a short and simple explanation for why the amount is appropriate.

Negotiate Extras

If the employer is unable to adjust the salary offered, try asking for other valuable options that might not cost as much. You can try to negotiate for yearly salary reviews, sign-on or performance bonus, or more vacation days. For the best negotiating strategy, ask for a few benefits or perks you don’t want that badly. Then you can concede and agree to the employer’s terms without those added benefits if they meet all your other requests.

In an ideal negotiation situation, both parties will walk away from the engagement feeling satisfied with what they have gained. This is especially true when you’re dealing with salary negotiations. You want your employer to feel secure in the price paid for your services so that your working relationship begins on a positive note.

7 Things to Leave Off Your Resume in 2021

October 21, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

Job seekers often do themselves a disservice when they send out resumes that include unrelated or confusing information. Hiring Managers don’t have the time or patience to sort through resumes having too much or inaccurate info.  Just stick to the basics and make sure you leave off these 7 things on your resume: 

Irrelevant Hobbies and Interests:  Love camping? Hiking? Fishing? Great, but unless the job you’re applying for is to be a park ranger, most hiring managers aren’t interested in how you spend you free time. When including hobbies on your resume, make sure its relevant to the industry you’re applying for.  

Too Many Soft Skills: Soft skills are a good thing, to a certain extent, but too many can cause the candidate to lose credibility. Including both hard and soft skills demonstrate tangible and intangible traits that can help the hiring manger or recruiter understand your work ethic. When including soft skills, make sure they’re demonstrated and not just stated.  

Headshot: There’s no reason to include a headshot on your resume. Some hiring managers even find it to be unprofessional. Instead, include your LinkedIn URL or a QR Code to your portfolio. Here you may have a picture of yourself.   

Personal Pronouns: When writing your resume, try to leave out personal pronouns like “I,, “me,, and “we.. It’s your resume so it’s implied that everything is about you.  

The Wrong Kind of Email: Including your email is important when filling our contact information on your resume but using your personal email can be tricky. Its best to have a professional, simple email, that is easily associated with your name. Stay away from casual email addresses like soccerchick85@hotmail.com that can be seen as inappropriate to unprofessional.  

Your Mailing Address: Including your mailing address used to be standard practice. Now, it's unnecessary information. If you’re applying for out-of-state jobs and looking to relocate, it might be best to leave out because some employers only want to consider local candidates. Instead indicate your plans of relocation within your contact information.  

Job Positions Older than 10-15 years: Unless you’re a recent graduate or a senior executive, you should include no more than 4 or 5 positions that span more than 10-15 years. The older the position, the less likely the hiring manager will care about it. Instead of filling your resumes with dozens of outdated, irrelevant positions, use that space to detail your most recent positions. Quality over quantity.  

When applying for positions, its best to tailor your resume to reflect the advertised role. If you’re applying for a tech-based job, it might be better to emphasize your skills with data learning programs. If applying for a communications role, highlight your soft skills and accomplishments. Writing a resume can be difficult when choosing what to include or not include, but use your best judgment. Quality over quantity wins every time.  

Online Personal Security

August 2, 2021

By Emily Harsh, Account Director - General IT

In today’s day and age, most of us are online every day whether it’s for work or personal, sending e-mails, browsing the internet, checking social media, using online platforms and more. No matter how much working professionals are immersed in technology, online criminals are finding new ways every day to spam even the most tech-savvy people out there. It is important to be aware of the signs of spam or phishing to keep your personal information protected and secure.  

Below are just a few basic factors to watch out for online that should set off the alarm bells for spam and phishing.  

  1. If you receive an e-mail that seems to be from someone you know, double check the actual e-mail address the message was sent from; it oftentimes will look very generic or not follow company protocols if it is a phisher. 
  2. Online criminals regularly send messages offering a financial award or another way to entice you to provide your personal information – be wary of this! 
  3. Check for misspelling of websites, names, etc.  
  4. Double check that any attachments or links you receive are from a credible source and do not have an unusual name. 
  5. Be sure to look for ‘https’ on the websites you visit. This means the site is encrypted and typically spam sites are not.  

Here are the steps you can take to make sure you are protecting yourself against online criminals.  

  1. As soon as you identify a message as spam, always report it! 
  2. When you receive an unexpected attachment, or one that looks unusual, do not open it. Verify with the sender over the phone whether this is a legitimate attachment.  
  3. Avoid inputting your info into fake log-in pages; spammers oftentimes create pages that look very similar to common sites in order to steal your info. 
  4. Do not click links from unknown individuals. To be sure, you can hover your mouse over the link to validate where the link is going. Odds are, it will show you that it is not going to a site that you know or can trust.  
  5. Use passcodes on your devices, and create strong, unique passwords across your online accounts.  

By adhering to these tips and tricks, you are much more likely to know how to spot phishing or spam. By learning to spot them, you can save yourself and your information from being stolen or corrupted. These spammers are meant to trick you so in the end, if you’re unsure – just ask! It never hurts to double-check.   

Red Flags of Recruiting: What to Watch Out for

June 24, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

In an industry that can be perceived both negatively and positively, finding a good recruiter can be a long and stressful process. You want someone that has you and/or your company’s best interests in mind, not their own. Below, are 3 red flags to watch out for when working with a recruiter.

Unprepared and Unprofessional

As a candidate or client, engaging with a recruiter who is unprepared and unprofessional is a red flag. As a client, you want someone who is familiar with your company culture and the position you’re offering. From a candidate perspective, the recruiter is the first introduction to the client’s company. Lack of prior research and knowledge of the industry ruins the recruiting process before it has even begun.

Lack of Testimonials

You know a recruiting company is legitimate if they have a list of testimonials from both clients and candidates singing their praises. Unless the recruiter is new to the industry, satisfied clients and candidates should be willing to give a short review of the recruiter and their process. Be wary of companies who claim to be the best but have nothing to show for it.


Beware of recruiting firms that “ghost” after a placement has been made. Recruiters who don’t follow-up with either the candidate or the client after the placement has been made is a big red flag. Moving onto the next placement, without having a follow-up with the last client or candidate can leave a bad taste in the mouth. It’s almost a guarantee that they won’t work with the recruiter again, nor will they be willing to give a testimonial.

What Good Recruiting Firms Do:

  • Understanding Strategy

The best recruiters collaborate with their clients to create a detailed profile of their business, job opportunity, and dream candidate. Good recruiters are focused on finding the right fit for their client. At DRI, we work closely with our clients to establish a strategy that best highlights the needs of the client. We set goals for them throughout the recruiting process, interview process, placement and onboarding of the candidate.

  • Reviews and Recognition

Reputable recruiting firms have many resources to support their claims of being top-notch companies. DRI is a nine-time winner of the NorthCoast 99 Award, recognized on the Forbes Best Professional Recruiting Firms List for 2021, and we are active members in our community. With a quick visit to our website, you can find all our testimonials of prior and present candidates and clients. Many speak to our attention to detail, industry experience, and clear communication.

  • Follow-up

Good recruiters keep in contact with the client after the placement has been made. At DRI, we monitor the candidate’s progress comparing them to the goals that were outlined at the beginning of the search. We regularly follow-up during the first 12 months following placement. At Direct Recruiters, Inc. we are committed to the success and satisfaction of every single client and candidate.

To learn more about Direct Recruiters, Inc. visit www.directrecuiters.com or connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Virtual Onboarding

April 8, 2020

By Shawna Rosner, Director Legal Solutions Group

While we navigate a crisis and pandemic to the likes of which we have not encountered before, some work must go on. Firms and companies across the country are moving forward with hiring and starting new hires remotely. Last week, I had two attorneys begin their jobs remotely which required virtual onboarding. I thought it might be helpful to give some tips and insight into this new but real phenomenon. How can your company start strong with a new hire during this time or at any time when working with a remote candidate?

For many new hires, the first day is the first time they get to meet their full team and other colleagues. Let’s face it, the first day of a new job is the start of a new relationship, with your firm or company but also the start of many new relationships, with colleagues. It is essential to make a great first impression regardless if it’s in person or virtual.

To start, there are a few key factors to consider when onboarding someone virtually. Take some time to plan and create an agenda for the new hire. Try to do your research and think about what the candidate will need to know about joining your company. Having the manager involved as much as possible is likely to lead to more success.  Being overly communicative to the candidate before the start date and throughout the process is a good practice to keep him or her engaged. Additionally, ensure that all material, onboarding documents and forms that need to be signed are all digital and the new hire can view and/or sign things virtually. The hiring team should also prepare any company-issued technology needed and set up a plan for the new hire to pick this up safely. I have also heard of needed technology and paperwork being personally delivered by IT or other administrative staff to the new hire’s home to avoid having to come into the office at all.

The first week is a crucial point in virtual onboarding. Where normally a simple email to a team telling everyone to stop by and meet the new hire, now is the time to circulate more personal questions during a virtual email introduction to the team. A client of ours began the onboarding process before the actual start date by sharing emails within the team introducing the new hire and sharing a couple of things about themselves. The candidate shared the email thread with me. I was happy to see the humor displayed. It made me, an outsider, feel like the team was a real family just through this short series of emails and I know the new hire was more than excited and relieved by this virtual introduction to his new work family. Another welcoming idea during the candidate’s first week is, if available, coordinate a way to send the new hire your company ‘swag’ to his or her home as a welcome gift.

In addition, integration calls (conversations with the supervisor or manager) are key to making the new hire transition at a time when popping in the office to ask questions can’t be done. Get creative with you integrate your new hire.  Zoom can be used for coffee dates with individual team members and happy hours with the whole team. Meeting with departments like Human Resources and IT should be set up through video calls with the ability to screen-share and go over any operational systems, platforms and tools the company uses.

For some companies, virtual onboarding isn’t a whole lot different as they may already have new hires watch video trainings or utilize Skype or the like for orientation. For others, this is completely novel and a bit daunting to tackle but it is successfully being done.

One factor in virtual onboarding is company security. In this time of stay at home and shelter in place orders around the country, only essential businesses are operating. For those businesses that remain essential in their state, new hires may still be required to come into the office for a brief amount of time to pick up a laptop, connect their phones to company email and complete employment verification. They are then free to work remotely and do the remainder of their onboarding online. Some companies do not allow employees to use their own laptops or desktops because of security risk. As I previously mentioned, this can also be done via personal delivery.

As virtual onboarding is new for so many, it makes sense to adjust the process based on feedback.  At this time of crisis all of us are challenged to be more flexible and roll with the punches, the same will hold true with hiring.  The pandemic at hand is going to require new hires to fill current and projected needs. Virtual onboarding may be a new process to many but measures can be taken to make sure an employee’s first days with a new company are inclusive, positive and successful!

Automation Leaders Share Insights Surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic & Its Impact on the Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has had drastic affects to people and businesses across the United States and the globe. As we all navigate this together, Direct Recruiters would like to extend a message to clients, candidates and their families to be healthy and safe during this challenging time. Our Automation team has been connected with multiple Automation organizations and leaders who are willing to share helpful information, advice and insights regarding the initiatives their organization is taking in the pandemic to manage the uncertainty, assist in the fight against COVID-19, how to keep employees engaged right now, and more. Thank you to all participants for the helpful information you provided.

Jump to interviews: Bradley Schowanson - Yaskawa, Brian Clark - Fastenal, Tom Subaric - Oakley Industrial Machinery,  Patrick Coakley - Plant Automation Group 

Bradley (Johnson) Schowanson

Bradley Schowanson, Engineering Manager, Medium Voltage Drives


Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and are there any initiatives you would like to share about what your company is doing differently either to assist in the fight against Covid-19 or generally how your leadership is handling the situation?   

We are taking measures to isolate employees working at the factory as far as adjusting things like lunch shifts. We are also making sure the same group of employees on different lines are staying in the same areas and bathrooms. All office employees are working from home. My team and I are working from home and are using Go-to Meeting for all of our meetings.  Our CEO’s goal has been to retain as many jobs as he can during this time, and I have been really happy with the choices he is making.  

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?   

For me, I talk to members of my team regularly on the phone and we have weekly meetings where we follow up, get together, and get updates of where we are at with projects. It helps a lot to talk and hear someone's voice. I personally listen to music to keep motivated while I work. 

What message would you like to share with our industry as a whole in regards to the pandemic?   

Overall, when I reflect on what’s going on, I think of how resilient humans are at overcoming obstacles like this. I'm sure we will overcome this, and I am proud of my team as well as Yaskawa as a whole for adapting to overcome general obstacles related to COVID-19. 

Brian Clark

Brian Clark, General Manager - Westfield, MA


Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and are there any initiatives you would like to share about what your company is doing differently either to assist in the fight against Covid-19 or generally how your leadership is handling the situation?

There are a bunch of different ways Fastenal is dealing with the current state. It all depends based on where exactly you are working and what kind of position you are in; whether in the warehouse or someone on the sales side. As a GM, our store, and other stores are taking everyone’s safety and health first. We have currently closed our front room, retail side of things. We are however, still servicing our customers while using hand sanitizer, masks and gloves as they are all essential workers either in government, transportation or in the medical field.  From a business perspective, we have had to cut costs and be a bit more frugal, but luckily haven’t had to do anything throughout the company in terms of cutting hours or employees. There have been weekly updates throughout the company to keep employees informed on how we are dealing with COVID-19. For example, Fastenal has been making donations like dust masks to front line workers.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

I think for a lot of us, not much has changed in our business, but I would say knowing what’s going on in the world and the fact that we are helping supply people who are combatting the virus really keeps employees active, engaged and feeling like we are really making a difference. There's nothing putting them off about the situation. They all feel we are doing the right thing.

What message would you like to share with our industry as a whole in regards to the pandemic?

I like the fact that as an industry, we are able to come together to help the people on the front lines fight the virus and keep the world turning.  There are people staying home to lessen the spread, but I'd like to see those that can make a difference get out there and do what they can to keep us afloat.

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and are there any initiatives you would like to share about what your company is doing differently either to assist in the fight against Covid-19 or generally how your leadership is handling the situation?

Oakley Industrial Machinery makes equipment for the heater element industry. One thing we specifically make to assist the medical industry, especially right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, is machines that are used to manufacture heater blankets for emergency rooms. We are considered a necessary business during this time, and one thing we have done in order to keep all of our employees working we took a pay cut of 20% across the board, including our COO.

 How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it hard to keep employees motivated at times; people are scared right now. We bought masks in the beginning for employees to wear to feel safer. Additionally, we have opened a second shift to create more spacing for our employees to be a safe distance from one another. We are doing the best we can do and are trying to keep employees proactive as much as we can.

What message would you like to share with our industry as a whole in regards to the pandemic?

The little things matter. Treat your people well, send care packages to first responders, and do whatever you can do for us to get through this.

Image preview

Patrick Coakley, Regional Sales Manager
Plant Automation Group

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and are there any initiatives you would like to share about what your company is doing differently either to assist in the fight against Covid-19 or generally how your leadership is handling the situation?

Patrick CoakleyOur company, Plant Automation Group (PAG)  is actually just as busy as we were before. Some clients have slowed, but few projects are on hold while some have picked up, as many are considered an essential manufacture. Many of these companies would rather look at automating facilities than hiring more employees at this time. We have also seen some manufacturers pivot to help support hand sanitizer applications which has been strong this last month.  At PAG, we are always supporting automation requirements across a number of industries and within any segment of line automation.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

We don’t hire people who aren’t motivated, so our people are staying motivated through this as always. Since our sales and engineering teams need to be highly skilled across multiple platforms of equipment and combinations of industry segments, we have a unique talent of industry professionals.  We are a smaller company and haven't had issues keeping employees engaged.

What message would you like to share with our industry as a whole in regards to the pandemic?

We sent an email to many of our clients on Friday and that message basically was to encourage them, if they have previous projects going on and they’re looking to expand automation requirements from a customer-based need, to do it now, be proactive and plan next steps for automation. If customers are not planning and waiting to see what happens, they will fall behind those who are already carrying out projects. Equipment will be out of stock, and lead times will increase. Our message was around those points,  clients should push ahead in our opinion. We predict that the third and fourth quarter will be huge for the economy, and although some people have paused purchasing, they should not pause from reviewing projects.  Manufactures need to be prepared when we come out of this shortly.

Anything else you would like to add:

This whole pandemic has shown us within the US that we have an issue, number one, our supply chain, but also that we are manufacturing too many products overseas, which we are seeing just in the pharmaceutical industry alone right now. Many companies assemble products in the US relying  on third party suppliers, but they are not manufactured here. We need to bring that back to the United States and we have seen this happening in 2019. The pandemic has only reinforced the need.