Travel Nursing 101: Building a Standout Profile
Before you embark on your glorious travel nursing adventures, and even before you snag that perfect gig, you will have to complete a full travel nursing profile with the recruiter(s) of your choosing. (Please be me! Please be me!) Your travel nursing profile will consist of the application that you fill out with each agency you decide to work with, an up-to-date resume, skills checklist(s) for your specialties, and references.
Your travel nursing profile tells the story of who you are as a candidate and clinician. It’s my responsibility as your recruiter to make sure that your profile is in tip-top shape and does a great job of “selling” you as a Rock Star travel nurse. The goal is that when you are being considered for a potential assignment, the hiring manager or decision-maker can discern that you are a great fit for the position. Success in this area takes a partnership, though – I am still counting on you to provide me with all of the quality information I need in order to work my magic.
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So, how do we do this? Where do we start? I’m glad you asked because speed is key! The more information we have up front, the less time it takes to get clarification on your experience and qualifications, and the sooner your recruiter can start getting you submitted for those dream jobs. Most managers interview upon receipt of a profile so decreasing the down time between job opening and submission greatly increases your chances of edging out the competition.
The application is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t spend much time on that, especially since each agency has a different format. You’ll fill out your full name, address, and contact information, as well as verify that you are able to work in the U.S. legally and that you are licensed in at least one state. Pretty standard stuff. The one thing I will say about the application is that if you don’t have an updated resume with all of your work history information, education, certifications, etc. listed, then be sure to fill those sections out completely on the form.
(Time Saver Tip: Axis does not require you to fill out the employment history and education sections on the application if you have already submitted an updated resume that includes all of this information. You are so welcome.)
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Probably the least sexy thing about a travel nurse profile and you may start to feel your eyes glaze over and your brain may start to feel like a big bowl of mashed potatoes as you fill them out. (Pass the gravy, please.) However, in conjunction with your resume, skills checklists sell your clinical abilities to potential hiring managers. You’ll rate your experience and expertise with different patient types, diagnoses, case types, etc. Everything you don’t have room to list or think to list on a typical resume. The key here is to be honest about your abilities but also try not to sell yourself short.
The skills checklists also come in handy when a recruiter like me is looking for assignments that best match your skill-set. Often, we’ll see hospitals and facilities requesting certain skills like an OR nurse who has experience with neuro cases, or a step-down nurse who can do sheath pulling. I can do a quick cross-check on your skills checklist to make sure you have the particular skill the hospital might be looking for. If you have it, I will be sure to highlight that on your resume and cover section so that you will catch the eye of the hiring manager. Clever girl, that Charity! Oh stop now, I’m blushing.
I wrote a blog post not too long ago about creating a stand-out résumé to differentiate yourself in a competitive market, and I will echo all of the same suggestions here.
Here are the top 5 things to consider when constructing your résumé:
1. Please make sure your employment dates are in month/year format, not just the year.
Most of our employment verifications will require us to submit requests using this format. Also, please be sure to account for any gaps of employment over 30 days, as many clients and facilities want to see this documented on the résumé. You don’t have to be super detailed with this; something like “personal time off” or “seeking employment” is fine.
2. Please list the facilities/hospitals you worked in, not just the name of the travel agency or staffing company you worked through.
3. Try to include unit and facility details like the number of beds in the hospital/facility, what the trauma designation is (if applicable), if it is an academic (teaching) hospital, how many beds were in the main unit(s) you worked in, what were the nurse to patient ratios, what was the charting system used, etc. (Axis Pro Tip: Utilize the American Hospital Directory to look up some of these details if you’re not sure!)
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4. Try to include more details about the types of patients/diagnoses you cared for and dealt with. If you’re a medical/surgical nurse, for example, this could look something like:
Cared for post-op ortho patients, stroke patients, diabetics, CHF, sepsis, pneumonia, respiratory distress, and telemetry monitoring.
5. Highlight any leadership responsibilities you have had such as working as a Charge Nurse or Preceptor for new hires.
If you omit any of these details from the résumé, it’s not a huge deal, but I will likely have to come back to you and ask for the information later on. Again, the name of the game is to help you stand out among what could be dozens of other candidates, and to try to speed up the process between putting the profile together and submitting you to a job before it closes. Having this information will definitely help our cause! As Jerry Maguire once famously uttered, “Help me, help you.”
The requirements for references can vary from agency to agency and may also vary based on the individual hospital/facility requirements, so be sure to double-check with your recruiter to see what will be needed. In general, you will be asked to submit at least two total references, and at least one of them (if not both) will need to be from a manager or supervisor. The references should be recent – ideally people you’ve worked with in the past year, and they should be from within the setting you would be submitting for. In other words, if you are trying to get an ER travel assignment, make sure that your references are from the ER setting.
Your agency will typically have their own form to use but may accept previous performance evaluations and already-completed references. Be sure to ask your recruiter about this if you’re wondering if what you already have will work.
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Anything Else That Might Help?
There are some vendors and facilities that may also request copies of your certifications or other documents to be included with your profile when we submit. Your recruiter will let you know if anything extra will be required, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a file saved somewhere either on your computer or on a USB Flash drive, etc. If it’s not asked for during submission, you’ll most definitely need it upon offer during onboarding. Make access to your certifications, IDs, and medical records handy and you won’t find yourself scrambling later to gather everything needed.
And, there you have it – the necessary ingredients for the ideal travel nursing profile. I hope this information will be helpful for you as you begin the process of pursuing your travel nursing dreams. Don’t forget; your Axis Rock Star Recruiters are here to help if you need a little extra guidance as you’re moving through these steps! We’ll work together to make sure that you have the best chances possible of scoring a sweet gig.
Are you ready to make all your travel nursing dreams come true? LET’S DO THIS THING! Apply below!