By Ava Lillard, Senior Recruiter and 2020 Recruiter of the Year
Congratulations! You’ve reached the point where you’re either thinking about travel nursing or you might be an experienced traveler seeking a new recruiter to partner with. Either way, this is an exciting time for you to interview travel nurse recruiters and identify someone you can connect with. Recruiting in the travel nurse industry has evolved dramatically over the years and requires a diverse set of skills. Understanding qualities that are important to you and your career as a traveler are crucial in helping determine who you choose to partner with. The market is constantly shifting with new legislation, seasonal needs, and even pandemics (oh hey, COVID-19).
With all that in mind, here are the top four qualities that I think the best recruiters have — all important characteristics to consider when wondering what to look for in your travel nurse recruiter.
Integrity and Honesty
With every great recruiter, you will find yourself a partner — one you can trust to help you through any obstacle that comes your way. Integrity and honesty will make or break any experience in life, and travel nursing is no different. When selecting a travel nurse recruiter, you want to look for someone who’s invested in you as a person, your goals, your endeavors, and your passion.
There is so much trust that goes into this partnership that it’s vital you find a travel nurse recruiter who’s upfront about everything — even the most challenging aspects of traveling. At first, having someone tell you everything you want to hear might feel good, but having a recruiter utilize their industry experience to provide honest and transparent advice every step of the way can be an invaluable resource in the long run.
Once you sign a contract, you want a recruiter who is still invested in you as a person and continues to follow up on your well being and how you are doing throughout your travel nursing assignment. A recruiter who’s invested in you personally will continue to build the relationship during your contract, helping you navigate the challenges of living in a different city and adjusting to working in a new facility with a whole new set of policies and procedures.
Pay is always a big factor when selecting an agency. It can be difficult to understand discrepancies between hospitals and agency pay packages, so it’s crucial to partner with a recruiter who understands how to help you compare quotes evenly. I hear so many horror stories of a recruiter quoting one number, and then when the traveler gets the offer, changing that quote. Or worse, never quoting before submitting! I highly recommend setting clear guidelines with recruiters on how you’d like to operate as a team to avoid these kinds of unfortunate situations.
Attention to Detail
Recruiters will need to review your resume to match your skills to the appropriate jobs. The ultimate goal is to find a great mutual fit for you and the facility, because this will ultimately make for a more successful assignment. This requires a keen attention to detail as hospital units and floors vary throughout different systems. It’s important that your recruiter understands your full abilities and limitations and leaves the line of communication open so they can match you to the perfect job.
It’s also important to have a Recruiter educated on the types of hospitals you would thrive in. Level 1 Trauma hospitals often have ancillary support, while critical access hospitals have an “all hands-on deck” mentality. Knowing where to place you is vital in your success as a traveler. Once you’re actively submitting in jobs, follow up is also key to your success. Is your recruiter organized and on top of submissions? Are they advising you each day where you are in that process? Those are things you want to make sure to look for in your travel recruiter.
Good communication is the most important quality a recruiter can possess. Style, tone, empathy, and passion are all fundamental parts of communication. A good recruiter will make the travel nurse processes seamless and easy for you, educate you on the market and trends, be clear about expectations from them, the agency, and facilities, as well as consistently update you at every point along the way.
Good communication builds trust and trust is vital in your recruiter/traveler relationship. While interviewing recruiters, pay attention to your intuition. Do you feel like a number? Are they listening to what you’re requesting? Can you get a hold of your recruiter? We work 24/7 to accommodate travel nurses and, while there are limitations to this because we all must sleep at some point, a good recruiter will acknowledge you and set some time up to chat. You should not go days without hearing from your travel nurse recruiter — ever.
Speed to market is crucial in getting the job you’re seeking. Is your recruiter hustling to make sure you are the first to hear of a job? You want to get a recruiter who works hard for you. A job in travel nurse recruiting is not for the faint of heart, so you want a recruiter who has a sense of urgency to make sure that as jobs open you’re updated with that information.
Follow up is a part of hustle. Are you constantly reaching out to your recruiter to see where you are in the process or is your recruiter proactively reaching out to you with jobs? You want a recruiter who’s organized to follow up with you and facilities on your submissions. Some of the very best travel nurse recruiters in this industry have a response time of one hour because we’re always available and hustling to make magic happen behind the scenes!
Ultimately, what you need in a recruiter will be unique to you, which is why there are so many recruiters! What works best for one traveler will not always work best for another. My biggest advice on what to look for is to trust your intuition. When you’re on the phone, your senses are heightened because you cannot physically see the recruiter. So, if something feels off, trust that feeling. But also, remember that no one can read minds so make sure to fully communicate your needs and allow your recruiter or potential recruiter to adapt to you!