How to Find the Best Travel Nurse Recruiter for You

If you surveyed a group of veteran travel nurses on their best (and worst) moments from their travel nursing adventures, chances are very high that their agency recruiter would get brought up in the responses. A strong recruiter can help make the difference between a successful or stressful travel assignment.

As a recruiter who’s been in the game for a long time, I’m often asked by newbie travelers about the agency specifics – pay, locations we staff, insurance and benefits, housing, etc. I’m not asked nearly as often about what type of recruiter I am, what my experience is, and how I’ll support the traveler during their assignments. To me, those questions are just as important to ask as the other ones. As a recruiter, part of my job is to qualify you as a traveler and make sure you’ll be a clinical and personality fit for my agency and for the clients we serve. So, it would make sense that you, as a prospective (or current) traveler would take the time to qualify me as your recruiter.

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Choosing the right recruiter(s) for you is a pivotal step in the process of becoming a travel nurse.

As your recruiter, I am responsible for making sure your profile is spotless and stands out among the competition. I must be a good communicator, respond as quickly as possible to your questions or concerns, be accessible, and act quickly when that perfect job opportunity comes around. I am your partner, advocate, resource, listener, and cheerleader. In my opinion, these are key traits to be looking and listening for when qualifying your recruiters.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “How do I go about finding the right recruiter for me?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are some questions I’d recommend asking your potential recruiter before agreeing to work with them as a traveler:

“How long have you been a recruiter?”

We all have to start somewhere, so this is not meant to dismiss any newbie recruiters out there. But, experienced recruiters tend to be very resourceful and can speak to a lot of their own travelers’ experiences when answering your questions. Additionally, recruiting is not for the faint of heart. It is a generally stressful job with a short shelf life, so someone who has been recruiting for a while tends to stay in it because they enjoy it and are passionate about their careers. I don’t know about you, but I typically prefer to do business with people who love what they do.

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“Why are you a recruiter?”

I love to ask travel nurses why they decided to become nurses. Even over the phone, I can see their faces light up when they talk about what motivated them to choose their careers. Successful recruiters and travel nurses tend to have one big thing in common – we love to help people. Asking your recruiters this question can help you gauge the “why” behind their jobs, which could give you an indication of whether or not your goals with traveling align with their goals as your recruiter. It takes a partnership!

“What makes you different?”

I don’t get asked this question very often, which is surprising, but when I do, I get really giddy. It tells me right away that this travel nurse is taking the decision to choose the right recruiter(s) seriously. It tells me that this candidate knows that not all recruiters and agencies are created equal. This person wants to know what I’m all about and how I’m going to differentiate myself when there are tons of agencies out there to choose from. You can really learn a lot about your recruiter by asking this question.

“What happens if something goes wrong while I’m on assignment?”

I really think this is such an important question to ask your recruiter. While we hope that nothing ever does go wrong on your contract, the reality is, we can only control so much, and we don’t have magical crystal balls that predict the future. (Dang it.) It’s good for you to know as a traveler how your recruiter plans to respond if something goes awry. How will you be able to reach them? How quickly can you expect a response? How will he/she support you as the issue is being resolved?

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“How many other people will I be speaking with or working with at your agency?”

How many points of contact you will have at an agency tends to differ across the board. You may have a recruiter who helps you find positions, but you might also have a payroll contact, an HR contact, a benefits contact, a compliance contact, and maybe even a different recruiter if you opt to work in a different part of the country.

Having different points of contact isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s good to know ahead of time that you will need to speak with someone in Payroll if you have a paycheck shortage, or that you’ll need to talk to the HR/Benefits team if you have an insurance question, or that you’ll have a different recruiter if you decide you want to work in California after your contract in Boston is up. Many travelers do prefer a single point of contact (the recruiter) to handle all their questions and needs, so it’s worth mentioning in case this is something that is important to you.

Qualifying your recruiters and asking them these questions will help you determine who might be the right fit for your personality and for your professional goals as a travel nurse. Having the right person in your corner will help ensure that you can focus your time and energy on more important stuff – your patients and your traveling adventures.

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Charity Crawford
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