It’s the last week of your travel assignment, you’ve read dozens of job descriptions, talked to multiple companies, researched options on your own, and you still don’t have your next contract lined up. “What’s the problem?” you ask yourself.
This is a common issue for many traveling healthcare professionals and even those searching for a first assignment. As a recruiter, I’ve talked with numerous nurses and techs experiencing the same frustration. Shouldn’t finding a job be easier? Well.. maybe. Let’s look at the top five reasons why you might have trouble finding a job as a healthcare traveler.
The “I want it all” mindset
There are many different factors that go into a travel assignment including location, pay, setting, shift, start date, contract length, and so on. It helps to have preferences because it helps narrow down the available jobs. Getting all of your preferences, though, rarely happens. For instance, if you are an ER nurse needing a 10-week contract that will only work day shift, in Florida, expecting to take home a certain dollar amount per week the chances are next to nothing. This is what I refer to as “the unicorn assignment”. Sadly, I’ve never seen a unicorn, and sadly, I just don’t see certain contracts. The “I want it all mindset,” is a surefire way to limit options and keep yourself from getting a job.
Some locations see more jobs than others. Knowing the job market and need for your modality can help. There are travel assignments in all 50 states, but there are not always openings for every specialty and experience level. Ask your recruiter what their experience is with certain cities and states.
Experience & certifications
Hospitals and healthcare facilities have hiring requirements for all of their employees. Experience level, specific certifications, and familiarity with certain patients or procedures are all examples of qualifications that a facility may be looking for. If you don’t meet particular requirements, you may not get called for an interview. Recruiters and managers will usually know the requirements and qualifications before submitting you to a job.
In addition to experience, recent experience is crucial. Perhaps, you’ve been working in the ICU for a few years and want to go back to working ER. Most hospitals won’t allow this as a traveler. With a short orientation on a travel assignment, that’s not the time to also try and readjust to a new unit. Recent experience within the past 6 months in the unit you want to work in is your golden ticket to a travel assignment!
To get a job, you need to interview. Are you someone who often forgets their phone at home, misses calls, or doesn’t listen to voicemails? If you want a job, you can’t be that person! When a hospital or facility calls you for an interview, it is during the time they’ve set aside to make hiring decisions. If you don’t answer the call or return their message quickly, they’re already calling the next person on the list. Answer calls or return them ASAP.
A couple years ago, the travel nursing market hit a 20-year high. Assignments were plentiful and pay was higher. With the market tightening, preferences have to loosen up. There are still plenty of jobs for the taking, but not jobs that have everything on a job wish list. Ask your recruiter or manager about the job market in the area you’re wanting to go. If they say they saw two or three times the number of jobs in past years, that’s a sign that the market is tightening. In addition, with healthcare changes on the horizon, hospitals are not posting as many travel contracts in anticipation. With changes, come more changes.
Finding a job doesn’t have to be difficult. Current and past travelers, what have you found to be the easiest way to find a travel assignment? Recruiters, what other advice would you offer? Share below!