It’s not uncommon for travel nurses to discuss a potential travel nursing job with a recruiter, complete the paperwork required to be submitted, and then find out the job has been filled by another candidate. This scenario happens often enough that it leaves many travel nurses wondering if agencies advertise bogus jobs just to get them to complete the paperwork. The simple answer is, yes they do. However, this practice is the exception, not the rule. In fact, it’s more often true that the job is legit, but is filled before the agency is able to complete the nurse’s submission profile. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the factors at play and provide some recommendations to help you navigate the system successfully.
Travel Nursing Jobs Fill Fast!!
It’s important to understand the nature of the travel nursing job market in order to understand how jobs can be filled before a traveler is submitted, even when the required paperwork is completed immediately. The most important factor to consider is that travel jobs fill fast. They fill much faster than permanent jobs.
Most travel jobs are filled within 10 days. It’s not uncommon to see assignments closed for new submissions within an hour of going public. And even when assignments aren’t quickly closed to new submissions, chances are very strong that the hospital has received several submissions and has begun the process of vetting candidates within a day or two of the assignment being announced.
Travel jobs fill fast for several reasons. First, there are often multiple agencies engaged in filling a job. Jobs can be available to 50-75 different agencies, sometimes more. Second, even when the hospital has an exclusive contract with one agency, it’s still highly competitive. This is because only the largest agencies typically land exclusive contracts and these agencies have a lot of recruiters. Moreover, when the exclusive agency isn’t able to get the job filled within a specified period of time (typically 1 week), then the job is released to all the sub-vendors. This means the job is opened up to many more agencies.
Finally, jobs fill quickly because hospitals are typically intent on filling the position quickly. The need for a traveler is usually urgent and hospitals know that it takes time to iron out all of the details. Hospitals know they stand a better chance of successfully onboarding the nurse on schedule if they wrap things up sooner than later.
It Takes Time to Prepare a Travel Nursing Submission Profile
Due to the very fast time-to-fill for travel jobs, it’s important for agencies to have a travel nurse’s submission profile ready to go as quickly as possible. If you are already working with the agency in question, then the agency already has a submission profile ready to go. However, if you are working with a new agency, then the submission profile can take quite some time to complete.
Many travel nurses believe that completing a submission profile is simply a matter of them completing the application and skills checklist. Once these documents are completed, you’re ready to be submitted, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case.
First, the agency must review the documentation and ensure that all details required by the hospital are included in the profile. This step will almost always require the recruiter to research details and add them to the application. For example, some hospitals require the number of hospital beds and unit beds for each job listed in the work history.
Second, the agency must check references. References are rarely available immediately. It can sometimes take several days to establish contact with a reference. Third, the agency may have to gather some preliminary paperwork in addition to the standard submission profile. The hospital might require submission profiles to be accompanied by a license verification and copies of certifications. The hospital may also require a background check to be conducted. All of these steps and others add time to the process. As a result, it can sometimes take up to a week or longer to get a submission profile ready to go.
The Disconnect Between Perception and Reality
What we’ve just described are two fundamental disconnects between perceptions of the travel job market and the realities of the travel job market. First, there is a tendency to perceive the jobs as remaining open for longer periods than they are actually open. Second, there is a tendency to believe that a submission profile takes much less time to complete than it actually does. With these perceptions at the core, it’s easy to rely on strategies that aren’t well suited for landing your most desired assignments and maintaining continuous employment.
For example, many travel nurses utilize a strategy whereby they will not complete an agency’s paperwork until the agency contacts them with the specifics of an ideal job. This is a shaky strategy at best. As we’ve just described, there is a very strong chance that the job will be filled before the paperwork can be completed. You can get caught in a loop of finding great jobs, completing paperwork, and missing out on the job because it was filled before you could be submitted. You may also rely on responding to job advertisements as a strategy for landing your ideal assignments. Here again, the job may be stale by the time all the paperwork is compete.
Bogus Travel Nursing Assignments
This doesn’t mean that travel nursing job advertisements are a waste of time. Many travelers do indeed land assignments by responding to job advertisements. Perhaps more importantly, job advertisements may verify that the agency advertising the job has contracts available in the city for which they are placing the advertisement. This is a clue that can help you find the agencies capable of landing you assignments in your desired locations. That said, bogus job advertisements do indeed exist.
There are essentially two types of bogus job advertisements. First, companies may post job advertisements for assignments that they routinely have available but which may not be available at the given moment. Similarly, they may post job advertisements for jobs that they’ve heard maybe opening soon but aren’t actually open at the moment.
Companies do this because they understand the realities of the travel job market. They know that they stand a far better chance of landing job offers if they have profiles ready to go when the jobs actually open. So they cast signals to find interested candidates. They discuss the particulars with the candidates and get them to complete the paperwork. They do this with the firm belief that the job being discussed will indeed be open at some point in the near future if it isn’t open already.
The second type of bogus job advertisement is a bit more underhanded, but also much less common. In this scenario, the recruiter will tell the nurse that they have exactly what the nurse is looking for even though they don’t. However, this isn’t necessarily an “advertisement” because this scenario typically happens during telephone conversations. Why would the recruiter do this? Again, to get the nurse to complete the paperwork.
Once the paperwork is complete and the profile is ready to go, the recruiter can start pitching jobs that they actually have available. This probably seems crazy. However, it’s very common for a travelers to express adamant interest in Hawaii or San Diego, but then take an assignment in El Paso or Northern Maine. This by no means justifies advertising jobs in this fashion, but it is the reality nonetheless. Again, agencies certainly don’t advocate this approach, but some recruiters employ it.
How Can Travel Nurses Land the Jobs They Want?
So, how can travel nurses use job postings effectively? First, be mindful of the job posting date no matter where you’re looking, whether it’s on an agency’s own job board, or big job boards like Monster, Career Builder or SimplyHired. The older the job, the less likely it is to still be available. Second, use job postings as an indication of the jobs and locations a particular agency is capable of landing for you. This will help you find agencies that work in your desired locations.
Third, be mindful of where the job is posted. It’s fair to say that the jobs recruiters post on social media sites like Facebook’s travel nursing groups are legit and fresh. Posting in those groups is quick, easy and free to post. Moreover, the postings have an inherently low shelf-life due to the realities of Facebook’s news feed.
By contrast, job postings on job boards like Career Builder and Monster are more likely to be stale or bogus. Posting jobs on these sites takes more time and they aren’t easy to keep updated. The job postings are quite expensive. Many in the industry view job postings on these sites more as an exercise in branding than actually filling the assignments in question. The simple fact of the matter is that travel jobs are too fluid to keep them updated and fresh on job boards. But, at the same time, many interested candidates use these job boards to conduct job searches, so many agencies want to have a presence on them.
Lastly, it’s best to have a strategy to overcome the asymmetries inherent in the travel job market. Basically, you want your submission profile to be submitted as quickly as possible for open assignments that you’re interested in. One common strategy is to find a group of agencies, maybe 3-4 different agencies, that can serve your needs. We’ve outlined that strategy here and here.
This is a good strategy but it does limit your potential. Ideally, you should have a way to quickly and conveniently land jobs with any company. This would maximize your exposure to the job market and provide you with increased negotiating leverage in order to get higher pay. The problem with this strategy is that it would be impossible to complete and maintain submission profiles for every agency.
BluePipes solves that problem by allowing members to control their own submission profile. The BluePipes profile builder can be rendered as a resume and a full job application. BluePipes also provides members with free access to over 100 comprehensive nursing and allied skills checklists which can easily be packaged with a member’s resume and application to constitute a beautiful submission profile better than what most agencies produce with their own internal systems. With a BluePipes submission profile, travel nurses will fill out far less paperwork and be ready to go immediately when the ideal assignment pops up. At the same time, agencies will get the documents they need quicker.