If you’re a travel nurse, then you’ve probably noticed that travel nursing recruiters like to use the phone, A LOT! Recruiters use the phone so much, that it has an understandable tendency to leave many travel nurses frustrated. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some specific reasons that calls frustrate travel nurses as well as the reasons that recruiters utilize the phone so much.
1: Travel Nurses Can Get Inundated With Phone Calls
I get so many calls that I don’t answer any more unless I recognize the number. My phone blows up, even on Sundays and after 9 p.m. Even had a recruiter call at night on a holiday.
As a travel nurse, there are several understandable reasons to get frustrated with telephone calls. As the quote above illustrates, there’s a good chance that you routinely receive telephone calls from travel nursing recruiters eager to solicit your business. And if you made the mistake of submitting your contact information with a “lead generator”, then you may be getting 20 or more calls per month!
Lead generators are companies that sell contact information to third parties. In this case, the travel nursing companies are the third parties that buy your contact information and there are several types of lead generators to watch out for. For example, broadcast services are companies that offer to “send your contact information to the best travel nursing companies so they’ll compete for you!” These are companies like RNVIP, Travel Nurse Source and Travel Nursing.org. Additionally, many job boards, CEU sites, forums and others will sell your contact information to third parties.
Once your telephone number is in an agency’s system, they will repeatedly call if they’re good at what they do. In fact, some agencies utilize high-tech auto-dialing software that automatically dials numbers and leaves a message if it detects voice-mail or transfers the call to a recruiter if it detects a live person answering the phone. This means that recruiters are able to dial numbers faster than ever.
Of course, you can always request to be removed from an agency’s database. In some cases this will work easily, but in others, you may have to make multiple requests.
2: Calls Come In At Inopportune Times
I am a 20+ yr Night Shift Nurse. My Nights are your Days & vice versa ! I do not answer my phone anytime before at 3pm on any given day. Unless the Fire Marshall is knocking at my door, I don’t answer that either.
Recruiters maintain normal business hours for the most part. That’s especially true when it comes to using the phone. Meanwhile, many travelers work Mid-Shifts or Noc-Shifts. As a result, travelers often receive calls while they’re sleeping or getting ready for work. This is obviously frustrating.
Unfortunately, agencies typically lack a surefire way to ensure that they are only calling during certain times. The database software that would allow them to filter their database by call-time preferences is typically too expensive and requires too much input to be a viable option. While they can make a best effort, they will surely call some candidates at inopportune times.
3: Travel Nurses Get Frustrated with “Phone Tag”
It gets frustrating playing phone tag.
One of the downfalls of communicating via telephone is that you can really only have a conversation if both parties are available. Otherwise, it’s more likely that a message will be left requesting a call back unless there is a very simple issue that can be addressed with one or two questions. As a result, a game of phone tag can ensue that can make an issue drag on for days. This can be frustrating for the traveler and recruiter alike.
4: Travel Nurses Prefer to Build Trust in Writing
Is there a reason that recruiters prefer to talk to you over the phone instead of emailing specifics of possible assignments? Is it so there’s no written proof of what they told you or just a coincidence that the ones I talk to like to chat on the phone?
Many travelers do not trust the information they receive via telephone conversations. Often times, there is too much information being provided for them to take adequate notes. Either way, conversations alone leave no paper trail to verify what was said regarding the assignment and compensation package. As we discussed in a previous blog post, travelers have many reasons to be suspicious of recruiters in this regard. Sure, the majority of recruiters are honest, but there are enough bad-actors out there to justify suspicion.
Along the same lines, travel nursing pay packages can be a bit convoluted. Therefore, getting them in writing is one way to minimize miscommunication.
Measuring Travel Nurse Preferences
For all of these reasons, it’s no wonder that travelers overwhelmingly prefer emails, text messages and other electronic forms of communication over phone calls. In fact, a recent poll on a social media site asked travelers how they prefer to be contacted. 77% of the 27 respondents said they prefer email. Only 1 of the respondents said they prefer a phone call. The image below illustrates:
And it’s not just this small survey that reveals travel nurse attitudes toward telephone calls. The results are the same everywhere this discussion is undertaken. For example, here is a link to another discussion with over 50 responses that bears similar results.
Why Do Travel Nursing Recruiters Rely So Much On The Phone?
When a significant percentage of a business’s customer base harbors a certain feeling, then you would think that the business would take heed. It’s fair to say that 60% to 80% of travel nurses would prefer to be contacted by some other means than a phone call. Moreover, if we were to determine the intensity level of traveler attitudes toward recruiter telephone calls, then we would likely find that a significant percentage of travelers strongly dislike telephone calls. So why do travel nursing recruiters rely so much on the phone?!
1: Conversation Is The Best Way To Get To Know Someone
As a recruiter…Initially I like to speak with someone just to make a connection and answer all the questions and get a guide of what you are really looking for to match you to the perfect position.
I also ALWAYS do a formal phone interview via phone. It is about being transparent so everyone is on the same page. With the clinical shortage there is too much at risk with not finding the right candidate (ones who have “skeletons in the closet”)…
Recruiters need to get to know the travel nurses they’re working with. In fact, screening candidates is a big part of what hospitals pay staffing agencies to do. Like any other job, adequately screening candidates involves getting to know them.
Telephone conversations offer the ability to have detailed back-and-forth exchanges. They also allow people to pick up on tones and personality traits. This goes both ways, so it’s advantageous for the travel healthcare professional as well.
2: Travel Nursing Recruiters Need Trust Too
I believe it benefits both traveler and recruiter to have more verbal conversations, at least in the beginning – as it definitely builds a closer relationship and tends to establish more trust.
If they don’t know me and don’t plan on working with me, then I just assume that they plan on taking the info that I send over to their company and saying “so and so has this job at this rate – can you get it for me?” In which case I lose out on a chance to staff one of the people that I work with regularly into that position.
We often discuss why it’s so important for travel nurses to be able to trust their recruiters, but it’s also really important for recruiters to be able to trust the travelers they work with. The entire recruitment process takes a significant amount of time. Therefore, recruiters need to make sure that they’re spending their time on the right candidates. For recruiters, developing trust that the traveler is serious about working with them is usually the deciding factor.
Recruiters learn early on in their careers that spending tons of time writing emails to candidates they’ve never spoken with is an unwise use of their resources. The bottom line is that the success rates with this approach are much lower. This is because electronic communication isn’t very effective at developing strong bonds between people. Recruiters feel that telephone conversations are far more effective at developing the bond and trust they need to devote their resources to a traveler.
3: Conversation Is Better For Clear Communication
There is less likely a chance to miscommunicate or misunderstand a live conversation and if it happens, it can be questioned/explained right then.
Travel nurse recruitment is pretty complex when every factor is taken into consideration. Recruiters, especially good ones, want to make sure that there are no misunderstandings. They know that misunderstandings typically lead to disappointment and the perception of poor service. This means the relationship will be strained.
Conversations allow recruiters to ask probing questions to make sure that the traveler understands the issue. Conversations also allow the traveler to ask questions or express uncertainty, which the recruiter can then address in real-time. By the end of a call, recruiters and travelers will both be more likely to have a clear understanding of the issues discussed and any next-steps that need to be taken.
4: Conversations Convey Tone Better
For me as a recruiter, it’s about building relationships and conveying the right tone. It is so easy for something to come across wrong in writing (especially for someone like me who has a big sense of humor lol).
As a recruiter I have gotten texts and emails that made me think something was seriously wrong at an assignment, only to call and find out the nurses were being sarcastic or joking.
Conveying tone in writing is an extremely difficult task. Even the most prolific writers struggle with this. It’s very difficult to control or anticipate how someone will interpret the written word. That’s a big reason why emoticons are so popular 🙂 But even then, it’s difficult to tell if someone is being sarcastic, poking fun, or expressing happiness.
Conversations provide the ability to pick up on vocal tones that are universally understood. So a conversation minimizes the chances that people are unintentionally offended or misinterpret tone in general.
5: The Phone is Faster for Travel Nursing Recruiters
As a recruiter, I must say that the reason I personally don’t just send information via email is because it takes so long to put together a well written email with all of the information about the position, pay, what is needed for the application – and make sure it looks professional.
All of the aforementioned issues combine to make writing emails a difficult and time-consuming endeavor. There is a large volume of information to convey. The information must be conveyed professionally. Tone must be controlled. Questions must be anticipated and addressed.
Meanwhile, recruiting is unfortunately a numbers game. Recruiters must ensure that they’re maximizing their outreach efforts. A large number of calls can be made in the time is takes to send just one email.
6: Many Travel Nursing Agencies Have Minimum Call Requirements
Some companies require a certain number of phone time hours be hit per day to keep our job.
Many agencies maintain minimum call requirements for their recruiters. These requirements vary from agency to agency. Some agencies require a certain number of calls per day or per week. For example, it’s common for agencies to require that their recruiters hit 100 calls per day. Other agencies require a certain amount of phone time per day or per week. For example, it’s common for agencies to require 3 to 4 hours of “talk-time” per day. Agencies may also institute some combination of the two. For example, an agency may require 100 calls or 4 hours of talk-time.
Agencies maintain these requirements because they work. Telephone call requirements are widely accepted in the recruitment industry as a “key-performance-indicator.” In other words, when recruiters perform this task, they are successful. When they do not perform this task, they are unsuccessful. It is really rare for recruiters to achieve success any other way even with the proliferation of social media.
As you see, there are several issues on which travel nurses and recruiters are split. For example, recruiters feel that it’s easier to avoid miscommunication via a telephone conversation while travelers feel that email works better. Travelers feel that trust is built on the written word, while recruiters feel that trust is built with conversation.
In the end, each scenario is different so it’s helpful for both sides to exhibit flexibility. For example, it should be expected that conversations need to take place at the beginning of a new relationship between recruiter and traveler. In essence, this is the interview stage of the relationship and it’s beneficial for both parties to be engaged because interviews are a two-way street.
Travel Nursing Pay Quotes
It’s important to remember that there are many ways to quote a travel nursing pay package. The recruiter could use blended rates, they could break every variable down to an hourly figure, they could quote certain variables by the week, month, or provide a value for the entire contract.
Travelers may be surprised to know that different travelers prefer to be quoted rates in different ways. Some prefer to know the fully blended rate, others prefer to know the weekly net pay estimation, and others want to see every variable broken down. Moreover, quoting tax free stipends as hourly rates, which is an approach that many travelers prefer, can potentially get an agency into trouble because of wage-recharacterization rules.
In this case, it’s fair for recruiters to expect to have a discussion about compensation quotes to ensure that both parties are on the same page. It’s also fair for travelers to expect to receive compensation quotes in writing for assignments that they’re genuinely interested in. Of course, the compensation package will definitely be included in the written contract, but it’s reasonable for travelers to request pay quotes in writing prior to being submitted.
To help ensure mutual understanding, recruiters can develop a general compensation quote template, email it to their potential candidates and go over it in detail during a phone conversation. This way, any questions or concerns can be addressed and a mutual understanding can be ironed out. From then on, the recruiter can have confidence that the compensation quotes they email with this format will be fully understood.
Conveying available jobs is a difficult one to address. It’s perfectly understandable that travelers prefer to receive an email list of available jobs. Unfortunately, managing the list of available jobs for a recruiter is a complete nightmare. Agencies routinely have 500 to 1000 jobs open at one time, sometimes more. These jobs are in constant flux, opening and closing quickly without regular updates. Moreover, they’re coming in from multiple sources including emails, Vendor Management Websites, telephone calls and other avenues.
Sometimes your recruiter will be able to get a list of jobs to you and other times they won’t. Given the amount of time involved and the fact that travelers could potentially take the list of jobs to another agency, trust is a huge factor here. So in the end, receiving job updates via email may be more likely based on the strength of the bond between the traveler and recruiter.
One good approach is to have a telephone conversation about all the open jobs that the agency has available when the traveler begins their job search. Then, the recruiter can text or email new openings as they become available.
Of course, there are thousands of potential miscellaneous questions that could pop up and each one will be different. When travelers email a question to a recruiter and receive a telephone call in return, it often makes the traveler suspicious.
I’ve noticed when I send an important e-mail she always responds by telephone even if I ask to reply by e-mail. I feel…as if she doesn’t want it in writing.
Now, there may be circumstances in which this suspicion is warranted. However, it’s far more likely that your recruiter is concerned that sending emails back-and-forth about a serious topic could potentially cause the situation to spiral out of control. Instead, the issue maybe easily addressed to mutual satisfaction with a telephone conversation.
At the same time, recruiters should fulfill their travelers’ request to communicate by email or text whenever possible. This is especially true when issues are simple to resolve. It’s not okay to make a call just to pad the phone-stats when an email or text will get the job done.
During the Actual Job Search
Finally, travelers are routinely searching for their next assignment. When you’re in job search mode, then you will undoubtedly receive more calls. Your current recruiter really wants to keep you on board and competitors are eager to lure you away.
Travelers should anticipate receiving calls, texts and emails during their active job search process. Recruiters will be eager to pitch new jobs as they arise. They also need to quickly obtain your approval to be submitted in order to make sure that other candidates do not beat you to the punch.
It is highly advantageous for travelers to work with as many recruiters as possible. In fact, it’s one of the top recommendations we make in our free eBook on travel nursing pay negotiation. That said, the more recruiters you work with, the more you can get overwhelmed by communication during your active job searches.
While there is no way to avoid all the calls, and you should actually want to receive them at this time, there are things you can do to minimize the impact. First, you can use email to communicate effectively with all your recruiters. Most importantly, keep all the recruiters you work with informed with updates on your job search.
For example, if you get submitted by one agency for an assignment, then let all the recruiters you’re working with know by sending them a group email. Many travelers are worried that this will seem like they’re deceiving the recruiters. On the contrary, keeping them informed is the best way to build trust. That said, you may wish to use BCC to send these group emails.
You can also use BluePipes to help you manage your communication with recruiters. The service allows you to invite and connect with recruiters and send them messages via the site. You can also display your job availability on your profile with various privacy settings. The system helps you create a travel nursing resume, job application and skills checklists. You can also upload copies of your licenses, certifications and clinical records, so that you have all your documentation in one central location. All your documents can be emailed to anyone you want at your convenience. And unlike the “lead generators”, BluePipes doesn’t sell your contact information to third parties.
As always, we’d love to hear about your experiences with this issue. Please share them along with any questions or concerns in the comments section below.