5 Tips for Working with Travel Nurse Recruiters

5 Tips for Working with Travel Nurse Recruiters

By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor 

As travel nursing has grown in popularity over the years, so have the number of travel nursing agencies competing for your skills. Talented travel nurses now have many options, regardless of whether they are first-time travelers or road warriors with numerous assignments under their belt. 

Your choices start when selecting the company and recruiter who can help you meet your goals. Ask nurse recruiters a lot of questions about jobs, benefits and contracts, and consider the person who will be helping you, as well.

“It’s really important that you go with a recruiter you feel you can trust,” said Tiffany Shyrock, manager of recruitment for NursesRx. “Travel nursing is fun and exciting but the unknown can also be scary. Go with someone you feel will support you and has your best interest in mind.”

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Once you’ve done your due diligence by researching top travel nursing agencies, submitted your application, and started to work with a recruiter you feel comfortable with, the fun can begin!’s top 5 tips for working with travel nurse recruiters:

1. Realize that nurse recruiters are competing for your business.

Recruiters are tasked with filling nursing jobs, and companies offer many of the same jobs at health care facilities across the country. That doesn’t mean you should put up with high-pressure sales tactics, though.

Find a recruiter who cares about your goals, your satisfaction and truly earning your business. The good ones will want to build a relationship and work as your partner, for both the short- and long-term.

Some companies can also offer more choices, including travel nursing jobs that are exclusive to their travelers or that give their travel nurses first dibs at jobs when they act as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for a facility. 

So, if you’re still deciding, ask recruiters how many jobs they have in your specialty and how many exclusive contracts they have. Usually a larger, well-known travel nursing company will have more job openings, allowing you to get your next travel contract more easily and keep you working. 

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2. Communicate your priorities, preferences & non-negotiables.

Communication is key in the nurse recruiter/traveler relationship, and the more your recruiter knows about you, the better he or she can serve your needs. 

“After I receive an application, I reach out to the nurse to find out what their goals are, for example, what they want to accomplish, where they want to travel to, where they want to work, etc.,” said Brandi Gallegos, senior recruiter for Onward Healthcare. “For me, it’s about maintaining a partnership, because it’s important for me to understand why the nurse is applying.”

Your priorities. What means the most to you in a travel nursing career? Fun locations? Experience and training in your nursing specialty? Top nursing salaries? Focus on your top priorities so your nurse recruiter has a good starting point to find the right assignments.

Your preferences. If you have specific cities and states where you would like to work, let your recruiter know. You can also submit your wish lists for things like size of city, nearby amenities, type of facility, shift preference, etc.

Your non-negotiables. Do you need a job in a specific town because your spouse is being transferred? Do you need pet-friendly accommodations? Do you need to schedule a start date around your sister’s wedding? These are all critical issues to bring up early in the process.

3. Remember that recruiters aren’t genies.

Just because recruiters have your wish list doesn’t mean they can make the perfect job appear. They can, however, find the best available (see #1 above) and offer their expert advice. You may not get everything you want on every travel RN job, but you can hopefully check off most of the boxes on your wish list. 

Approach each suggestion from nurse recruiters with an open mind and be willing to be flexible. Being locked in to certain specifications could cause you to overlook a great opportunity. Even locations you didn’t seek out can provide experience that will make you more marketable for travel and permanent nursing jobs down the road.

4. Submit all documentation in a timely manner.

After your initial travel nurse application, you’ll need to fill out a skills checklist or two and submit some references, usually online. Once you are actively looking at jobs and signing contracts, you’ll also need to provide verifications of your nursing licenses, certifications, immunizations, etc., in order for the agency to clear you for the assignment. 

If anything is missing or late, it makes things harder for everyone and could even derail your start. So keep the process moving. 

5. Keep in touch.

Nurse recruiters are normally involved in all stages of a travel nurse assignment, from the initial contact through to completion of the contract—but you may be working with housing specialists, licensing specialists, payroll staff, clinical liaisons, etc., to handle some specific details along the way. 

Your nurse recruiter is still your main contact, so reach out if you need assistance or have a concern. Don’t forget to share the good stuff, too; recruiters love to hear about all the fun their nurse travelers are having on assignment!

Staying in touch will also ensure that your recruiter keeps you in mind for upcoming assignments in your most coveted locations and facilities. 

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