How To Find A Good Travel Nurse Recruiter - 5 Tips To Pick The Best
by Cassandra Martinez, RN BSN
With so many opportunities and countless information found in travel nursing, your greatest resource is your travel nurse recruiter. Your recruiter can literally make or break your travel nursing experience. Not only are they the link between you and your job, but their job is to truly be there for you.
Are you freaking out because this is your first-time travel nursing? Is your current recruiter stressing you out on top of your demanding travel nurse duties? Here's what to expect from a great recruiter:
- Your recruiter has worked with many other travelers - a great recruiter will take the time to answer your questions.
- An awesome recruiter will have your back, no matter what. They may not be able to fix everything, but they try their best.
- Good recruiters make themselves available, even when they are not physically in the office. Yes, self-care is important. But, being able to respond to a text from a nurse on the weekend is a sign of a great recruiter.
- A recruiter should always respond to you in a timely manner - 48 hours should be the maximum amount of time to wait for a response.
- Recruiters should be organized and not frantically ask you to submit documents, paperwork, titers, and medical exams last minute.
On the flip side, not all recruiters will treat you the same. It's not always their fault - agencies play a large role in training recruiters to be ethical and transparent. While there are a lot of awesome, kind, experienced, and transparent recruiters, there are others who are the total opposite.
Here's what to look out for in a recruiter who might not have your best interests in mind:
- Scripted responses - Does the recruiter sound like a voice recording? This could be a red flag that they are inexperienced.
- Making false promises - Do they make you verbal promises but do not back them up in writing? Major warning sign.
- Not disclosing pay details until you sign a contract- You should always get all of your pay-package details, in writing, up front.
- Pressuring you to accept an assignment without thoroughly reading the contract. You should take at least 48 hours to read over your contract (and have someone else read it, too)
- Go missing once you start your assignment- That's OK if you prefer it that way. But, for many travel nurses, recruiters should check in at least once per week - to truly be there for their nurses.
Your recruiter is the link between what you want in an assignment and achieving your goals as a travel nurse - they matter. You can anonymously connect with the best recruiters here.
We've met with hundreds of travel nurses who essentially told us the same thing - nursing jobs come and go, but a great recruiter can last forever.
Choosing the right recruiter is essential to having a successful travel nurse experience. So, where do you find these awesome people?
Well, if you're looking for the best travel nursing agencies, you'll probably be disappointed (and super stressed out) if you're not working with a top-rated recruiter.
In addition to connecting with our top-recommended travel nurse recruiters, you can also try these 5 tips:
1. Do Your Research
To find the right recruiter, you can start by researching travel nursing agencies. There are many agencies in travel nursing, and they all have something different to offer. Some things to consider:
Nationwide vs. Regional Agencies
As the name implies, agencies that work nationwide will have a larger selection of job locations, while regional agencies will serve a localized area. Nationwide and regional agencies may have different offerings, so it is a good idea to compare the two, depending on where you want to travel.
Pay Package Structures
Pay packages generally include your taxable hourly rate, tax-free stipends (includes housing and meals), benefits, and an estimated total weekly pay. The numbers may be presented differently depending on the agency, so be clear with your pay package expectations and ask questions.
Single Point Contact vs. Multiple Points of Contact
Do you mind working with an agency that uses different points of contact? Or can you barely juggle names and prefer to remember one person? Multiple points of contact include your recruiter and a team that specializes in various departments. A single point of contact allows you to speak to one person for all your needs while on assignment.
Who doesn’t love perks? Find out which agencies offer the benefits you may want, such as health insurance, referral bonuses, and sign-on bonuses. Some agencies may even cover onboarding expenses before an assignment, such as vaccines and drug testing. Another benefit I like to look for is corporate discounts on products and services such as hotels, rental cars, and even scrubs!
2. Know What You Want
Before you can find the right recruiter, you should have an idea of what you are looking for in an assignment. Things to consider in a contract include the location, shift, specialty, overtime rates, cancellation policies, pay packages, and benefits.
It’s also a good idea to know what you’re flexible with and what you absolutely cannot have in a contract. For example, you may not mind where your next assignment is located, but you are not willing to work the night shift, even if persuaded with free Starbucks coffee for 13 weeks. Figure out what you want in an assignment and work with a recruiter that can accommodate you.
3. Ask for Recommendations
When in doubt, ask around! Sometimes the best place to find a good recruiter is through your family, friends, and coworkers. Looking for the right recruiter is tricky enough, but when other people can give you recommendations based on their own experiences, you’re already a step ahead.
You can also go to reputable travel nurse sites and social media platforms to read the experiences of other fellow travelers. Nurses will often list the names of recruiters they recommend, as well as the names of those they advise you to stay far, far away from!
I personally have found my favorite recruiter through one of my nursing friends, and it has been a positive experience.
Plus, after completing my first assignment, my friend received a bonus for referring me! (Hint: If your agency participates in referral bonuses, refer your friends for extra cash.) Whether it be through a friend or a subreddit, try your luck with recommendations.
4. It’s Interview Time
Once you start honing in on recruiters that you like, it’s time for the interview.
You can start off with questions such as,
- “How long have you been a travel nurse recruiter?” In the travel nursing industry, a recruiter with at least 1-year experience should have enough experience to meet your needs.
- “How many nurses do you typically work with at once?” Unless this is a highly experienced recruiter, working with over 30 nurses at once could make it difficult for the recruiter to give you the time you need.
- Ask about their work availability - nurses work around the clock while recruiters typically work a Mon-Fri schedule, can this recruiter be reached after hours and on weekends via phone and email? What is the best way to reach them?
- Do they submit nurses to assignments without permission? Another topic I always press upon my potential recruiters is submissions for travel jobs. Be sure to ask how their submission process works and if they will ever submit you without your permission. Being submitted without your consent can spell trouble if you submit for the same position with another company or if you just plain don’t want to work on that assignment. Once, I was submitted to a job I did not consent to, and I dumped that recruiter like a bad breakup. Don’t let this happen to you!
5. Live and Learn
Perhaps the best way to find the right recruiter is through none other than your own lived experiences. Try out a recruiter and see if they are the right fit for your needs. You can even try working with multiple recruiters to see what opportunities they offer and compare them. Tell your recruiters you are working with multiple agencies and let them work hard for you.
Sometimes recruiters get the boot, and sometimes they become your best pal, but in either case, it is all experience added to your belt as a travel nurse. Picking the right recruiter can seem like a chore, but putting the time and research into finding the right match can only help you during your travel nurse journey.
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