By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
When I first started working with more than one recruiter, it felt like drinking wine after a night shift—I felt guilty, but deep down knew there was nothing inherently wrong or abnormal about what I was doing.
I worked with one recruiter for the first six months of my travel nursing career and we had a great relationship. He knew exactly what I was looking for in an assignment, and did not pressure me to look at jobs I was not interested in. However, when my husband received clinical placement in our hometown I was very anxious to find a job near him. I had very little knowledge about the structure of hospital and agency relationships, but I understood that my friend’s recruiter could get me submitted to a local position ASAP, while my current recruiter had to spend more time talking to a client manager.
In the end, getting submitted for that particular position was the most important for me at that time and place. I had to prioritize what was going on in my life and make my choice to use a different recruiter based on that. I got the job I needed but didn’t necessarily love my onboarding and payroll experiences with my new staffing agency.
Every staffing agency you work with will have different policies, hospital relationships and job variety. The personality and style of each recruiter will vary even more. Many factors that affect your choice in a staffing agency will have nothing to do with the individual recruiter, so working with multiple agencies is inevitable for the vast majority of travel healthcare workers.
Along with these differences, your goals could change from one assignment to the next, which means it is absolutely okay for you to work with recruiters that can help you find different roles based on your needs at that time. You are the one that has to physically relocate and build relationships at each new job, so it is important that the position is the right fit for you.
The key to working with multiple recruiters is to be firm and polite at the same time. It takes some practice, but it does get easier with time. These are some basic guidelines for maintaining working relationships with multiple recruiters:
- First, start by breaking the news. Here is a great example of how to do that:
- ” I just wanted you to be aware that I also have a recruiter from X company helping me look for jobs as well.”
- Make sure and keep all of your recruiters updated on where you have been submitted for jobs. It can be a negative mark on your profile if you are submitted by more than one company, so keep everyone on the same page.
- If you do get submitted by more than one company, don’t panic. This doesn’t mean you are out of the job—it is just better to avoid this situation if possible.
- Do not be afraid to be firm if a recruiter tries to guilt you into working with them. In the end, you have to decide what is the best choice for your life and situation, and sometimes it has nothing to do with the recruiter as a person.
- I will always advocate for maintaining a polite tone even when being firm. Stand your ground, and give them very specific guidelines for if and when you would like to be contacted again.
- Be honest. This is a two-way street. If a recruiter asks where you are going next, it does no harm to let them know.
- Usually, if they are asking questions about your location or current company, it is because they are trying to keep your profile updated in the event that they do have an opportunity that interests you.
- If the relationship is no longer working, you can politely “break up” with them. I like to use a direct, professional email or phone call and simply let them know that I do not see myself seeking placement within their company, and ask them to take me off of their call list.
- A good way to phrase this would be “I appreciate our relationship over the last year, but at this time I would like you to stop contacting me in regards to travel healthcare positions.”
Maintaining the balance between professional and personal with your recruiter—especially one you work with for an extended period of time—is something that takes practice and experience. It is one of the less-talked-about pieces of travel nursing but is important to master this skill so you can avoid unnecessary stress or discomfort when finding a new travel assignment each week.
By developing an honest and courteous relationship with each of your recruiters, you can keep the line of communication open and make transitioning from one staffing agency to the next as seamless as possible.
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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