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By June 22, 2011 2 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: What’s the most important attribute for a recruiter?


Travel Nurse RecruiterAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

I just got hired as a recruiter for a travel nursing company and am trying to build my clientele. I was just wondering what is the most important attribute you look for in a recruiter. How do I succeed in this business?

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

I can certainly tell you what I look for in a recruiter; however, you should always remember that each traveler is an individual and will require a different approach. For me, I just want someone that will give me the specifics and allow me to compare apples to apples. I typically work with multiple companies when weighing my options for an assignment; this is not uncommon among travelers, especially those that have been in the business for a time. Because of this, I want to know what your company is offering compared to another company I might be considering. If you are vague or misleading on any quotes, that will cause me to look elsewhere. You must be very conscious of this because occasionally it might occur even if you did not intend to do so.

For example, if you quote a traveler a pay rate of $28 an hour, they might be comparing this rate to another company that is offering $26 an hour. However, the other company’s rate might have included health insurance when yours did not. If the traveler decides to go with you, and only then learns that their rate will be $3 less an hour if they choose to include health insurance, it will not be a good situation. To combat this, always spell out the specifics of what you are offering: (i.e. $29 an hour, free private housing, free health insurance with day one benefits, $300 travel reimbursement, and license reimbursement).

I also appreciate recruiters that have the “buck stops here” attitude. In other words, whatever goes on with the company, you must intervene. Even if the traveler has spoken with the specific department with which they have an issue (i.e. traveler contacts payroll because they forgot travel reimbursement pay), you should follow up and make sure that the situation is resolved to the traveler’s satisfaction. You are basically the customer service department for your company and as such, the apologies and remedies should all travel through you.

You must also consider the amount of time a traveler has spent on the road when working with them. If you are working with someone with years of experience, they will tend to be pretty low maintenance; find them an assignment and then touch base a few weeks before their end date to see what’s next (or at least that’s how I usually operate). However, if you have a first-time traveler, you will want to baby them a little (a first assignment can be a new adventure for some and a rude awakening for others). Let your new travelers know that you have their back, even if it’s only for emotional support. Is it in your job description to play therapist and listen to all the fears and concerns of a new traveler after their first week on the job? If you want to excel at you job it is. Many times, it will not be the things such as seeing a time card gets corrected or the pay for license reimbursement gets put in on the next check. Rather, it will be the emotional support or sense of well-being you instill in your travelers that keeps them coming back to you assignment after assignment. I have had many recruiters over the years, but I can quickly tell you the names of every one that did a superior job in making my life easier while on the road.

Bottom line, be proficient in all the duties that might be included in any “recruiter h and book”, but also go the extra mile to make sure your travelers feel appreciated and of value to your company. You wont know how to deal with every situation, but that only comes with time. Never misquote, exaggerate, or outright lie to traveler to get them to take an assignment; it may secure you that particular assignment, but will cost you dearly in the long run when career travelers go with other recruiters or companies. Relate to your travelers on a “human level”, rather than on a business one, and you’ll do fine.

I hope this helps.

David Morrison

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

2 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: What’s the most important attribute for a recruiter?"

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  1. Brenda says:

    What a great answer. Your first paragraph carries some of the best advice around. No one recruiter (or company) can be everything to everyone. Ask questions, determine what is important to you and look for a recruiter or company that can fill that for you.

  2. Andrew


    I really appreciate this article you’ve written on becoming a recruiter. My girlfriend is a Traveling Nurse and you’ve hit it spot on in this article. I’ve watched her take good assignments and really good assignments. 9/10 times this can be directly linked to the good footwork of her recruiter in maintaining their relationship, and this “nurturing” in turn fosters a healthy relationship for she and I. This definitely encourages me to look further into being a recruiter.


    Andy SLC Utah

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