Travel Nursing Series-The Recruiter
My last blog post discussed the process of "getting started" on your travel journey and things you need to know leading up to your adventure. I want to dedicate this blog post fully to your recruiter. This is possibly the most important aspect of landing a quality travel assignment as well as feeling supported throughout your endeavors.
As I mentioned with agencies, there are a couple of different ways you link up with a recruiter. If you create a profile with an agency, you will be assigned one. If you request someone through a recommendation, you can get one that way. Or, you may find a recruiter through a cold call. All are totally fine options, given they do their jobs well. But, let's not forget, you play a major role in being successful. No matter how great of a recruiter you have, you have to be willing and available to them. As some of you may know, my husband is a travel nurse recruiter. I will be referring to his insight throughout this post.
Jobs open and close DAILY. My goal is to have my nurses ready for submission ASAP. This allows me, when a job opens, to send you the details, get a yes or no from you, then BOOM - submit! If you don't have your profile completed or you are difficult to get ahold of, this delays the process. That job is not guaranteed to be there 24 hours later depending on how many submissions they receive. -Ford
So, how important is a good recruiter? SO IMPORTANT. Your recruiter is your lifeline, your advocate. If you are in a situation, any situation regarding your assignment, you want to know that your recruiter will be responsive and have your back.
Let's take it from the top. The first conversation you will have with your recruiter will be spent getting to know one another. Ideally, they will lead the conversation with questions to better understand what you are looking for in an assignment. Be thinking of your non-negotiables. What are you not willing to do under any circumstance? These may include your shift preference, location, pay, if you need time off during the assignment, etc. Knowing these things, your recruiter can de-clutter your search.
Be as upfront and honest as possible. The more open you are the better; however, we understand people have situations requiring them to be more selective: ie families and spouses, etc. What slows the process down is when a nurse states they are open to all locations but when presented with jobs then states they want to specifically be in California. The more upfront you are the BETTER and the faster I can land you your dream job! - Ford
Your profile is complete and now you have a bomb recruiter. WHEW! - it's time to submit to jobs. Submitting to jobs is the easy part and the work is now (mostly) off of you and on your recruiter. Your recruiter is aware of what you are looking for and is on the hunt. A job will become available, your recruiter will run by the details with you, and you will say yay or nay. You can also go to the companies website and search for jobs for yourself. The details your recruiter should share include the price package, shift needed, contract length, hours a week, and any other requirements. Reasons your application may get rejected include not having enough nursing experience, not enough travel experience, the inability to meet your requested time off if you have any, or not having the required certifications.
A big NO-NO - your recruiter should NEVER, under any circumstance, submit you to a job without your consent. - Ford
I want to take a second to discuss licensing. This can be so confusing, especially now with COVID. You have people who have a compact license, states that allow you to work under one license basically. If you don't sit for your NCLEX in a compact state, you cannot just obtain a compact license. You will have to apply for a license in every.single.state that you want to practice in. BLAH. Let me break it down a little further and share some of my experiences. In the past year, I have worked in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Texas, and Tennessee. Of these places, Texas and Tennessee are covered under my compact license; however, I had to apply for a Connecticut and Massachusetts license. If you are interested in working in a specific state you need to discuss this with your recruiter. Some states will grant temporary and quick licenses; ie Connecticut was only a two-week turnaround, and other places take MONTHS; ie California. Some places will allow you to apply without a license and others require you to have a license prior to applying. My recommendation - if you don't think you will realistically ever travel to a specific state, don't apply for a license. You dish out the money for these licenses and they are not cheap, typically 200-400 bucks. once you land a job in that state, it's then that your recruiter will reimburse you. Also, don't ever let a recruiter give you a hard time for reimbursing for a license. Your recruiter will be able to guide you in applying for different states.
While you are applying for jobs, your recruiter should be in touch often. Personally, if I'm in the submission phase of things, I like speaking with my recruiter daily. I want to ensure that I am not missing any opportunities. Discuss with your recruiter the best method of communication for both of you. What are you able to respond to the fastest? Again, you don't want to miss applying because you were unreachable. From here, you wait for an interview, which is another blog topic.
After you land your assignment, the communication dials back a good bit, but they should still be in touch often leading up to your start date. Once you are working, they typically reach out once a week, most likely because they are required to, but that's not a must for me personally. From this point, you will contact them for any safety issues at work, problems or concerns that you may have, etc.
Now is a good time to be open about your expectations regarding your next contract. Remember, your recruiter most likely has numerous other nurses that they are working with, and it is important for them to know what you need out of them. I personally like to touch base mid-way through my assignment about my next assignment. This allows me time to obtain a new license if need be, get good housing for the next location, and do some further planning.
If there is anything to take away from this, it's this- you need an HONEST recruiter point-blank. I have worked with a couple of different recruiters at this point and now that Ford is a recruiter, there is a lot I have discovered. Stay tuned for more "Travel Nursing Series" posts!