By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
Even after over three years in the travel nursing industry, I come back from the Travelers Conference every year in awe of the sheer number of staffing agencies in this industry. From huge corporate companies to smaller local companies, finding an agency that fits your needs can be overwhelming.
My advice to every new traveler is the same: the agency matters less than the recruiter themselves. I have worked with agencies that have a great reputation but the recruiter I was matched with fell short. Similarly, I have worked with companies that have a less-than-positive rap sheet and found the diamond in the rough recruiter. Your travel nurse recruiter is on the front lines for you every day, and their approach to working with you can make or break your experience with their company.
While each individual travel nurse will have a different preference in regards to the personality of their recruiters, there are some important deal-breakers that should make you run away from a recruiter without looking back. It is important to keep in mind that your relationship with your recruiter is a business-minded one, so there is a certain level of mutual respect that should remain no matter what the circumstance.
A good recruiter won’t get mad if you work with other companies
Different agencies will have different facility contracts. Period. Some facilities will use multiple vendors, but the only way you can ensure you are truly getting the best job for your situation is to speak with two or three different travel nurse recruiters and compare what contracts they have to offer.
Some recruiters may try to tell you this is unacceptable or get angry if you mention speaking with another company. This is absolutely not the case and should be considered a huge red flag if your recruiter says this to you.
A good recruiter will give you the best pay package upfront
Settling on a pay rate should not feel like a used car dealership. Your pay as a travel nurse is determined by the bill rate given by the hospital. The company should take a set portion of every bill rate (this portion will vary by company) and the rest should be broken down into taxable and nontaxable income for the traveler.
If you mention the package is too low and your recruiter comes back with a couple hundred more dollars, chances are they were holding this money back from the beginning. On rare occasions, they can pitch directly to the facility and ask for more money, but this is more the exception than the rule.
A good recruiter will give you a pay package upfront
New travelers may be told they have to submit to a job to see a pay package at all. Nine times out of ten this is untrue. Every recruiter should be able to give you a breakdown of pay before you submit to a contract. After all, the pay is a huge factor in determining if a job is the correct fit.
In some instances, the recruiter has to pitch a bill rate against different companies to compete for a job. If this is the case, they should still be able to give you an estimated pay range before you agree to submit.
A good recruiter won’t fail to answer emails or calls during an assignment
Sometimes travelers find themselves in scary or unsafe situations while on assignment. While most of the recruiter’s work is done once you are at your new location, they will still remain your main point of contact throughout the full assignment.
A good recruiter will periodically check in throughout your time at each location, perhaps offering to start looking for new placements towards the end. On the other side of things, if you need something or have a concern while on assignment, your recruiter should respond within a day or so if you reach out. Most companies have emergency lines if you need something immediately, but your recruiter should handle day-to-day concerns or questions.
A good recruiter won’t push you to take their assignment every time.
Each time you look for a new assignment your preferences or needs may change. The reason you have two or three recruiters on hand at all times is to make sure you can find something to fit your needs each time around.
A good recruiter will realize you may find something that is better suited with a different company depending on what they have available. They shouldn’t take your decision to switch companies personally. Instead, they should maintain a professional connection with you, so you feel comfortable reaching back out the next time you are looking for a new location.
Bottom line: A good recruiter won’t make you feel uncomfortable.
I hear of so many new travelers who got pushed into a bad deal because they were made to feel uncomfortable or to override their gut feeling. A good recruiter simply won’t make you do these things. If something seems unfair or an alarm bell is going off in your head, I suggest reaching out to an experienced traveler and running your situation by them. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to stand your ground if you are feeling pressured into a job or contract where the terms seem off.
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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