It’s no secret that the relationships between travel nurses and the recruiters they work with are very important to travel nurses. And like all relationships, trust serves as one of the key foundations. Unfortunately, the dynamics of these relationships present many scenarios in which trust can ultimately be compromised. In this blog post we’ll cover 14 ways that a travel nurse’s trust for a recruiter can be compromised and provide tips for avoiding these pitfalls and mending relationships.
Before we start, it’s a good idea to lay some groundwork on the topic of trust between travel nurses and their recruiters. First the travel healthcare industry is unique in ways that tend to accentuate the importance of trust between candidate and recruiter. For example, travelers rely on their recruiters on a regular and ongoing basis due to the short term nature of travel nursing assignments. In many other industries, recruiters are finding candidates long-term opportunities, so the relationships are short-lived.
Moreover, travelers must rely on their recruiters to provide more critical services than traditional recruiters provide. For example, travel recruiters make housing arrangements, travel arrangements, and coordinate a much more complex documentation and credentialing process. Finally, travel healthcare pay packages are highly unorthodox. Therefore, travelers understandably feel like there is room for shady tactics when it comes to compensation negotiation. So having a trusted recruiter helps travelers have faith in the negotiation process.
Now, to be fair to recruiters, it’s important to note that the unique aspects of the travel healthcare industry sometimes lead travelers to unduly jump to conclusions that compromise the trust they have for their recruiters. We’ll provide examples of this where pertinent in the following discussion. Finally, and again to be fair to recruiters, it’s important to note that the trust a recruiter has for a traveler is also important to the relationship and there are many ways that this trust can be compromised as well. However, that’s a subject for a future blog post.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 14 issues that can compromise a travel nurse’s trust for their recruiter. You’ll notice that many of the issues below are accompanied by quotes that exemplify how travel nurses feel about these issues. These quotes were pulled from popular forums and social media sites devoted to travel healthcare.
1: Submitting a Travel Nurse for an Assignment without Their Permission
And the fourth, one of the big travel nursing companies, first submitted me to a job without telling me any of the information about the contract. I had a surprise call and interview from a manager and a job offer before I knew any info over the holidays, and could not get a hold of my recruiter.. and then lost the job offer.
Submitting a traveler’s profile for a job without their permission is a maneuver that will almost always compromise trust. As the quote above indicates, the traveler will be surprised and potentially unprepared for the call and interview. As a result, the recruiter is placing the traveler in a tough spot which is something a recruiter should never do. Moreover, the recruiter is literally taking action behind the traveler’s back. This forces the traveler to understandably question the recruiter’s professionalism.
Travelers often wonder why recruiters do this. There are several reasons. First, a travel nursing recruiter’s job performance is measured in part by the number of submissions they make so they sometimes feel pressured to submit. Unfortunately, this is never a valid reason to submit a candidate’s profile. Recruiters must remember that the risks far outweigh the reward in this case.
Second, many travel jobs close so quickly that it’s impossible to contact the traveler prior to submitting their profile. Some assignments close to new submissions in as little as 30 minutes which is barely enough time to get the traveler’s profile ready to submit for the assignment in question. However, this doesn’t mean that recruiters should submit without notice. Instead, recruiters should have a clear and concise conversation with their travelers about these scenarios in an effort to secure approval for the submission in advance.
In most cases, an agreement can be reached whereby the recruiter agrees to contact the traveler immediately upon submitting the traveler’s profile to inform the traveler and answer any questions about the assignment. At that point, the traveler may decide to proceed with the submission or have their profile rescinded. If the traveler doesn’t agree to such an arrangement, then the recruiter should respect the traveler’s wishes.
Third, recruiters sometimes intend to contact the traveler after making the submission, but they get overwhelmed with other tasks and forget to make the call. This is why calling first is always the best approach. This is true even if the traveler has granted permission to be submitted in case an assignment opens in the future.
2: Leading the Travel Nurse On
They also have submitted me to 4 other hospitals, 2 weeks ago, and I still have not heard. I have been following up with my recruiter and apparently my profile hasn’t been rejected yet… but still pending as well.
Now, many travelers and recruiters will look at the quote above and say it’s possible that this traveler still has a shot at landing one of these assignments even though they were submitted for them 2 weeks ago. And that’s true, it is possible. It’s also possible to win the lottery or get struck by lightening twice.
The chances of the traveler landing one of these assignments is not that slim. However, recruiters need to be very careful that they don’t lead travelers on. Travelers will understandably question a recruiter’s ability to deliver if the recruiter builds a track record of submitting to assignments that fail to pan out. At a certain point, it’s natural to question whether or not the recruiter is just leading the traveler on with fake assignments in order to keep them on the hook in case a legitimate assignment actually opens up.
Therefore, recruiters should set proper expectations. The should explain that many things can lead to delays. It’s possible that the hospital isn’t that serious about bringing on a traveler. Or, they’re working their way through the process with other candidates. Perhaps the job order was open for a while prior to the traveler being submitted. Or perhaps the hospital isn’t interested in the traveler because the traveler doesn’t have the experience the hospital is seeking and the hospital just isn’t communicating this with the agency.
Recruiters would be wise to address these possibilities with their travelers. Sure, the traveler may seek the assistance of another agency. However, it’s best to be an advocate for the traveler in order to maintain a strong relationship that will result in referrals and future business.
Along the same lines, recruiters will sometimes tell travelers that they have open jobs the traveler is interested in, just to get the traveler to compete the initial paperwork. This is a horrible tactic that often backfires. It’s not worth the risk.
3: Not Communicating Promptly After Paperwork is Completed
I have had a recruiter contact me already on this site and have heard nothing from that company as well, not even a hello phone call after the application was done online.
The initial documentation required to be submitted for travel nursing jobs is a nightmare. Not only is the application more detailed than any other application outside of the CIA, but the skills checklists are often hundreds of questions long. Therefore, recruiters should always qualify their candidates prior to instructing them to complete the paperwork in order to ensure that candidates are qualified.
When it comes to qualified candidates, many recruiters believe that the initial paperwork is insignificant because all companies require the same thing. These recruiters are sorely mistaken. Many companies offer to complete large portions of the paperwork on behalf of their candidates. In fact, there are at least 27 companies that will accept applications, skills checklists and resumes from BluePipes. The point is, many companies are simplifying the application process.
So if a qualified candidate doesn’t promptly receive a call after completing the documentation, then their trust in the recruiter will most certainly be compromised. It’s logical to assume that the recruiter has poor follow-up skills or is simply too busy to take on another traveler. Therefore, immediately contacting candidates who have invested the time to complete your documentation should be a top priority.
4: Offering Really Low Base Rates to Travel Nurses
The second has attempted to submit me to two but the hourly pay was $10. And when I questioned this, I was told it was okay and nothing to worry about, despite feeling this was not right and posting on here and getting the same response.
IRS regulations stipulate that taxable wages must be in line with what the professional would expect to make in the permanent employment market. And Registered Nurses expect to make more than $10 per hour no matter where they are or what specialty they work.
In recent years, the IRS has cracked down with audits on many agencies. The news has permeated industry news sources. More importantly, there are many social media forums devoted to travel healthcare where travelers will most certainly learn the truth. The simple fact of the matter is that recruiters will certainly compromise the trust of their travelers if they continue to offer these rates and claim that there is nothing to worry about.
5: Throwing Travel Nursing Contract Curve-balls
Are there any companies that do not provide the housing stipend for the first week of orientation for travel contracts ? I just switched to a new company, received my first check yesterday which did not have the stipend. They said they do not provide the stipend during orientation which is not mentioned anywhere in my contract.
The hospital I am currently at has been down-staffing 4-5 RNs each night and I am just waiting for me to be next:( Its in my contract I can only be cancelled 2 shifts but here’s the thing…My recruiter said A: not only do I not get paid for the those 12hrs so miss out on that money but also B: I have to pay the company 30$ an hour for the hours unless I make it up!!! Kind of mad about that.. That’s 360 I owe them plus I don’t get paid (which is understandable because obviously I didn’t work)..Is it like this with all companies?
We provided quotes for two separate cases in order to signify the range of possibilities that exist for this issue. The point here is that these travelers found out about obscure contract clauses after the contract started. We’re not going to weigh-in on whether or not either of these are good policies. However, failing to discuss these specific clauses with the traveler prior to them signing the contract is certainly a bad policy.
All of the potential pitfalls in the contract should be covered with travel nurses prior to them signing the contract. The only reason not to do this is if there is concern that the traveler will reject the contract due to one of these clauses. And that’s exactly why the traveler will be justified in feeling that the recruiter made a conscious attempt to slip one by them. Of course, when someone feels that way about their recruiter, then trust is compromised.
Bottom line, if an agency is confident enough to include it in their contract, then they should be confident enough to explicitly cover it during the contract signing process and address any questions or concerns.
6: Not Providing Travel Nursing Job Details and Pressing for Submission
Anybody familiar with Swedish Hospital in Seattle? The recruiter mostly bragged about what a great deal the facility is and a sweet relocation package. He couldn’t even tell me the details of the benefits and base pay except that everything is great and I sound like I have a great personality… Hmm??
There is a basic set of information that recruiters should be able to cover about every contract they have available prior to seeking a candidate’s approval to be submitted. For starters, recruiters should be able to cover the pay rates. If the required compensation details aren’t readily available, then find them and call the candidate back.
Recruiters should also be able to provide some basic information about the hospital. If no information is readily available in the agency’s database, then the recruiter can visit the hospital’s website or a website like the American Hospital Directory to obtain some details. The fact that the traveler quoted above turned to social media to get their questions addressed is proof that they didn’t trust their recruiter to provide the information. Moreover, this scenario leads travelers to believe that their recruiters don’t really have the traveler’s best interests at heart.
At the same time, it’s important for travelers to maintain realistic expectations about what types of information their recruiter can provide. Many agencies work with over 1,000 different hospitals. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly rare for agencies to have direct communication with the hospitals they do business with let alone direct communication with specific unit managers. Therefore, many specific details should be left to the interview as delaying submission to determine certain details will result in the job being lost to another candidate.
7: Secret Travel Nursing Bill Rates
So question for recruiters! Why is the bill rate so secretive?? I feel like we are all professionals and we nurses are the ones working the shifts (taking care of the patients) then we are low balled and have to negotiate over a secretive amount of money. Why not be open and say this is the amount of money total and this is our cut and this is what is left for you…
Many travelers feel that agencies are being secretive by not divulging the hourly rates the agencies are able to bill for the traveler’s time. The quote above indicates that the traveler feels they are getting “low balled.” Other quotes in the same thread used terms like “smoke and mirrors” and “unethical.”
This issue puts agencies and recruiters in a tough spot. We can’t think of another business that would be asked how much they’re profiting off of their employees as part of the compensation negotiation process. Healthcare professionals certainly wouldn’t ask this of prospective permanent employers. Why are agencies expected to be any different?
While travel nurses may find some agencies that are willing to divulge bill rates, the overwhelming majority will not. In fact, even when a recruiter divulges the bill rate, it will be difficult for the traveler to verify the truth. In the end, it may not be a realistic expectation for travel nurses to expect recruiters to divulge bill rates. Instead of mistrusting agencies and recruiters, travelers would be better off becoming highly skilled negotiators. You can download our free eBook on negotiating travel nursing pay to help you with this if you’re interested.
8: Asking Travel Nurses to Pay for Upfront Costs
Starting my new assignment in a week. Lots of paperwork. Is it normal for me to pay to have the background check done?
The responses to this question overwhelmingly said No, it is not normal for travelers to pay for their background checks. This traveler will now have a difficult time trusting their recruiter moving forward. Agencies must consider this when determining their compliance and credentialing policies.
For example, many agencies do not reimburse for licensing and certification costs. So the same question about the cost of these items would receive mixed responses. Therefore, trust would not be compromised. So forcing travelers to pay for things like notaries on I9 forms or background checks isn’t a wise idea.
9: Not Delivering on Travel Nursing Bonuses
I was also promised bonus after bonus and haven’t received them at all like for not having there insurance that was suppose to be $500 and working 1000 hours for them that was suppose to be $250.
When agencies fail to pay out bonuses and reimbursements, trust is most certainly compromised. At the same time, bonuses are sometimes contingent upon hospitals delivering funds to the agency. In any case, recruiters must be crystal clear about the guidelines and timelines for bonuses and then deliver as stipulated in order to maintain the trust of their travelers.
10: Bullying Travel Nurses to Accept a Travel Nursing Job
Is it common practice to be threatened and bullied by a recruiter in regard to taking an assignment ?
Threats and bullying often involve “verbal contracts.” Recruiters tell travelers that they agreed to a verbal contract to accept the assignment and if the traveler declines the contract, the agency will seek monetary retribution for a cancellation. Another common scenario involves the threat of blacklisting. Recruiters tell travelers that they’ll never be welcome at the hospital again if they decline an offer.
Now, to be fair to recruiters, it’s also possible for travelers to leave the hospital and agency high and dry. For example, if the traveler signs a contract and then cancels at the last minute, the agency may indeed be out a significant amount of money in the form of housing costs and financial penalties charged by the hospital. In these cases, travelers should expect a little pressure, but bullying and threats are still a little overboard.
In any case, agencies and recruiters should expect trust to be compromised if they utilize strong-arm tactics.
11: Failing to Ensure the Travel Nurse Understands the Pay Package Before the Contact is Signed
Just received my second paycheck, which I get biweekly. Please be honest: $2k is too small, yes?
The question is, “Why is this traveler questioning their paycheck?” They should know exactly how much they’re gross pay will be and have a very good idea of what their net pay will be before they even sign the contract. Recruiters most certainly know this information and it should be divulged in order to preserve and foster trust.
There is no question that this traveler’s trust for their recruiter has been shaken. The traveler is essentially expressing concern that they’re being ripped off. They have taken the issue to a social forum for support. None of this would have happened if the recruiter had clearly covered compensation expectations at the outset.
12: Changing Travel Nursing Pay Quotes
If a company sends you a package rate after you’ve been offered a job by facility are they bond by it if you haven’t received actual contract yet??? They called back next day and said they couldn’t give me the housing stipend originally offered. They stated they would have to reduce it by 1,000 dollars. It is a very high cost of living area. Seems like I’m just getting a run around.
I got a pay package last week and called them yesterday to accept and they sent me to a manager who said the pay package changed. I told them sorry, I will move on.
When compensation quotes are reduced in the middle of the process, trust will almost always be compromised. This is unfortunate but understandable. You see, it’s very rare for recruiters to incorrectly quote compensation packages on purpose as there is nothing to be gained by doing so. There is usually a legitimate reason that this happens.
For example, bill rates change over time and because agencies have hundreds if not thousands of client hospitals, they may fail to update their databases with the current rates. Or, the hospital may have multiple rates in the database and the recruiter used the wrong rate for the assignment in question. It’s also possible that the assignment has some atypical costs associated with it, like non-billable orientation hours, that the recruiter was unaware of when they calculated the rate.
Despite all of these legitimate reasons, it is still totally understandable that a traveler’s trust for the recruiter is shaken when compensation quotes are changed. As a result, agencies need to keep their databases up-to-date and find a way to include clear notations warning recruiters of special costs associated with facilities that have them.
13: Travel Nursing Paycheck Errors
Hey everybody! Need some advice….I am currently on contract and I have not received my paycheck correctly since I began working here.
This is another difficult issue for recruiters and agencies. Travel nursing pay packages are among the most complex pay packages for payroll departments to deal with. There are several unusual variables and one-time payments to be scheduled. Moreover, the agency’s client hospitals often have different rules for handling timesheets.
Here again though, it’s perfectly understandable for travelers to question their trust for agencies and recruiters when routine paycheck errors occur. It’s obvious that agencies and recruiters should make payroll a top priority. Beyond that, agencies should do whatever is necessary to get funds to their travelers when errors are made. Agencies can perform federal wire transfers or walk cash deposits into their travelers’ banks, both of which would get accessible funds into the traveler’s account the same day.
14: Failing to Check-In with Your Travel Nurses
I traveled 1800 miles to my assignment, and completed my first week orientation. I would think a good recruiter would at least call or shoot me an email asking if I have arrived safely, got moved in ok and how my assignment is going.
There is a lot going on when a traveler starts a new assignment. As a result, there is a lot that can go wrong. When recruiters don’t check in during this crucial time, travelers will understandably question the recruiter’s professionalism, thereby compromising the traveler’s trust for the recruiter.
Recruiters should make a habit of checking in with their travelers at least 4 times during the course of a contract. And one of those times should most certainly be at the very beginning of the contract. Personally, I used to check in with my travelers every Friday to make sure everything was okay with their paycheck and to see if they needed any assistance. In the vast majority of cases, I would get the traveler’s voice mail so the entire process would take a minimal amount of time that was well worth the effort.
Trust between a travel nurse and their recruiter is both crucial and fragile. Fortunately for recruiters, the level of effort required to ensure that trust remains stable is relatively small compared to the potential rewards. When solid service is provided and trust is earned, travel nurses will not only remain loyal, but they will become advocates who send more business the recruiter’s way.
As always, please share your questions, comments, or experiences with this topic by posting in the comments below. And please let us know if we missed something that compromises a traveler’s trust for their recruiter. Provide a quote and we’ll add it to the list!