When Should I Start Looking for a Travel Assignment?

In this travel nursing quick tip video, Charity addresses a commonly asked question: When should I start looking for my first (or next) travel assignment?


Maybe you’re brand new to travel nursing and you’re excited to begin, but perhaps you can’t start for another three, six, or even twelve months.

Or, maybe you’re on a travel assignment now and you’re wondering when to start looking for your next contract, assuming you don’t plan to extend your current assignment.

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You may see a lot of job postings that request a traveler to start ASAP. Hospitals and clinical facilities often exhaust other options before hiring travelers, such as trying to hire permanent staff or offering overtime to existing staff. By the time the facility decides to bring on travelers, the need is often more urgent, hence the desire to hire and start someone quickly. In these situations, the facility may rule out candidates who cannot start within 1-2 weeks.

Some facilities do a bit of a better job with forecasting their needs, especially if it is a facility that hires seasonally, meaning they tend to need staff more during certain times of the year (think beachy locations in the summertime or mountain towns during ski season). If a hospital or facility anticipates higher demand, they will often post travel positions earlier, as far out as 4-8 weeks, to be better prepared for census increases.

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I tend to operate from a “the earlier, the better” mindset when it comes to looking for positions, but realistically, you will probably start to have more luck with being considered and accepted for assignments once you’re within that month range. If you’re a brand-new traveler, I’d recommend having a full profile built with your selected recruiters and agencies at least 4-6 weeks ahead of your start date. Use any time before that to scope out and interview different recruiters, ask lots of questions, and do some additional research on things like housing, benefits, cost of living in different areas, etc.

We’ll talk more in another blog post about putting together a profile and what that entails, but to further touch on the necessity of having a profile ready to go, it’s important to factor in the speed-to-submittal rate that is required to land your next perfect travel gig. What does that mean exactly? In today’s market, when a need is released by a facility to their pool of agencies (Hi, Axis!), it generally is filled with submissions in a matter of minutes. It’s a first-mover advantage when we have your profile ready to rock. It gives us the best chance for you to be considered and ultimately, offered the position. Building a complete profile is an extremely important next step after you’ve decided to take the plunge into travel nursing.

Completing a travel nurse profile early helps secure your chances of landing your dream gig!

If you’re a current traveler already on an assignment and you’re looking for your next adventure, let your recruiter(s) know at least six weeks ahead of your end date what you’ll be looking for in your next position. That way, we have time to update your profile and can start the job-hunting process. And, we’ll be able to act quickly once that desired position becomes available.

I hope this gives you a better idea of when it might make sense to begin looking for your next travel assignment. Please reach out if you have more questions about this topic, or anything else related to travel nursing!

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Charity Crawford
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