By Sarah Wengert
Some patterns are so predictable you can almost set your watch by them. Pumpkin spice cravings in the fall. Discount candy after Halloween. “Quick” trips to Target turning into a cartful of things you didn’t even know you needed. In the healthcare travel world, seasoned travelers and recruiters see one thing like clockwork every year: The dreaded January job rush, which results in a bottleneck of travelers facing high competition for the same jobs.
Every year, the majority of travelers wait until after the holidays to look for their next travel nursing job. It’s a good idea in theory — maybe you want to take the holidays off, go see friends and family, and you plan to get back at it after the annual clock strikes midnight. But in reality, literally everyone else is doing the same thing, which means major competition for every single job, super busy recruiters, and decreased odds that you’ll get the job you want the most.
But, not to worry, you can get the job you want to kick off the new year without compromising your holiday dreams! Read on for some easy steps you can take to avoid falling into this unpopular pitfall.
Why You Should Avoid the January Job Rush
As mentioned earlier, there’s a huge glut of travel healthcare job seekers all picking up the phone to call their recruiter in early January. Even with the nursing shortage, this dynamic stretches recruiters and facilities thin, creating a playing field where getting the job you want is more challenging. For every job post, facilities have way more applicants than normal and it’s more difficult to stand out. It can also create more stress and frustration for all parties, which is not a good look (or feel) for starting a brand-new year!
Start Talking to Your Recruiter Early On
The entire fall/winter holiday season is a blur. Really, once Halloween hits the hodgepodge of sugar, lights, and merriment becomes a fog that stretches all the way to those early days of January. It all goes by so fast it can catch you off guard if you’re not proactive. The best game plan here, according to veteran travelers and recruiters alike, is to start communicating with your recruiter early on.
Even if it’s November/December and you don’t want to start a new contract until mid-January, you can (and should) start looking now. In fact, a good practice is to start looking for your next assignment about 6-8 weeks out. You could sign a contract in mid-December for a mid-January start. The best of both worlds! Or, you could even start a contract in early December stipulating certain holidays off. There are many different ways different travelers choose to avoid the January job rush. But the most important thing for any traveler: Communicate with your recruiter early and often!
“As a long-time recruiter, when it comes to looking for an assignment this time of year, I want you to get off schedule as much as possible,” advises Medical Solutions senior recruiter Scott Schuckman. “Everyone is looking for January. I want you to look at December and February instead. This helps you to avoid being one of many and to have more quality options available. Especially in the current market, hospitals are willing to work with us on time off or wait for help when needed.”
Make Your Contract Work for You
The reason for the January rush of travelers trying to secure new assignments is largely because people want to take time off for the holidays. But waiting until January isn’t your only option! When signing a contract that will run through the holidays, you can always look into taking certain days off by having that written into your contract. If that’s important to you, be sure to discuss this with your recruiter.
Alternately, you might consider a contract extension, if that’s available to you. That way you’re all locked in and good to go.
Go in With a Game Plan
Having a solid idea about what you’re looking for in your next travel assignment is essential to you and your recruiter being able to collaborate and find the best job match for you. Being able to answer your recruiter’s questions about what works and doesn’t work for you will give them the best foundation for finding you what you want.
Along those same lines, remember that your recruiter is a true expert in helping their travelers find jobs and negotiate contracts that best serve those travelers. They’ve seen dozens of other travelers through all kinds of assignments and scheduling scenarios, so be sure to explain what you want to them and ask their expert advice on how best to get it! Tell them what you want — whether it’s certain days off or to be in a certain location for the holidays. They may not be able to grant your every wish, but they’ll do their best to make it happen and can provide crucial guidance to position you as best as possible depending on your needs and desires.
But Also Be Willing to Adapt
Even the best recruiter at the best company might not be able to deliver everything on your wishlist. (Only Santa can do that!) So, you should be ready to compromise a couple things here and there, if needed, to get the best deal all around. And you never know, sometimes it’s those surprise bumps in the road that set you off on an even better course than Plan A. Be open to alternate suggestions and trust that your recruiter has your overall best interests in mind.
“Have a list of what’s important to you and communicate that clearly to your recruiter — but, just as important, is knowing what you can compromise on as well,” says Schuckman. “Making the small compromises is important. It might not be everything you want going in, but it might turn into everything you didn’t know you wanted when you get there.”
Another important part of any game plan? Paperwork, of course! Visit your traveler portal to make sure all of your credentials are updated, as well as any other onboarding items you can complete early on. This will save time when the right offer is on the table and give you less to worry about during the holidays.
Start the New Year Triumphantly
You did it! You celebrated the holidays on your own terms and still secured a great contract to kick off the new year. Now you can sit back, pop a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider, and toast to another great year of your travel healthcare career. Cheers to YOU!
Ready to beat the rush?
If you’re looking for a new travel healthcare assignment or recruiter, Medical Solutions is always here to help. Contact our team any time, search open travel nurse and travel allied health jobs, or apply now!