Recruiters are a pivotal part of every travel nurse’s career. Recruiters are travelers’ primary interface with specific agencies and the job market in general. In fact, you’ll find many travel nurses who claim that recruiters are the single most important external component of their careers. This is why experienced travel nurses are always on the hunt for the best travel nursing recruiters. However, the recruiter’s day-to-day job duties and requirements remain a mystery to most. Knowing what’s going on behind the scenes can be very useful for travel nurses.
How is a recruiter’s job performance measured?
Fundamentally speaking, travel nurse recruitment is a sales job. Consider the following summary from a job posting for a recruiter:
2012 and 2013 Best Places to Work Winner! ProLink Healthcare! ProLink Healthcare is seeking a proven sales driven recruiter to represent our organization and join our team. ProLink has emerged as a local leader in Therapy and Nursing recruitment and …
We added the emphasis, but nearly every job posting we found for travel nurse recruiters made some mention of SALES. Whether the advertisement required previous sales experience or framed the position as a sales position, nearly every job posting mentioned sales.
Why is this important? Because a recruiter’s job is largely measured the same way that any other telephone based sales position is measured. Of course, the end goal is to get travel nurses working. And in today’s data driven world, a recruiter’s job goals are typically viewed as being contingent upon “Key Performance Indicators (KPI).” KPIs are defined as “A set of quantifiable measures that a company or industry uses to gauge or compare performance in terms of meeting their strategic and operational goals.”
Now, before we go any further, let’s stop to discuss the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Travelers routinely voice justified concerns over “being treated like a number.” And they routinely point to the largest agencies in the business as the ones who make them feel like “just a number.”
However, rest assured that every agency is tracking data as it pertains to KPIs on some level. Some agencies are more technical than others, but every agency has some concept of KPIs. Doing so is imperative in today’s marketplace.
So when it comes to service, some recruiters are far better at treating travelers like humans, and some agencies are better at fostering a humanizing culture, despite their data driven performance regimes. Moreover, most agencies do indeed consider service when evaluating a recruiter’s performance. However, this is a topic for a future blog post.
For now, let’s take a look at the KPIs that are prevalent for travel healthcare recruiters in order to better understand their day-today activities. Remember, the recruiter’s primary objective is to get nurses working. Different agencies may take different approaches to KPIs. For example, certain KPIs may be more important than others depending on the agency. And if a recruiter has already achieved a high level of success, then some agencies may not even bother with tracking KPIs for them any more, until they stop being successful of course.
Travel nurse recruiting KPI
With that in mind, we’re going to categorize the common KPIs in travel healthcare under the various steps of the recruitment process.
Travel Nurse Sourcing
The first step in the recruitment process is sourcing. Sourcing is the proactive searching for qualified job candidates. Rather than waiting for candidates to come to you, you must actively seek out and find the candidates. Recruiters have several sourcing methods at their disposal. Here is a sample list:
- Social media networking
- Job postings
- Searching on job boards
- Sending mass emails
- Telephone calls/campaigns
While it may appear that recruiters spend countless hours on social media and job boards, the simple fact of the matter is that telephone campaigns are much more widely used. And telephone campaigns are the king of travel nurse sourcing.
Of course, in order to conduct telephone campaigns an agency needs to have a large database full of potential candidates along with their personal contact information. And every agency has that.
At most agencies, the only sourcing method that’s considered in forming a recruiter’s KPIs is Number 5, Telephone calls/campaigns. Of course, if a recruiter achieves success with one of the other methods, nobody will complain. But call campaigns are easily quantifiable and widely viewed as highly successful.
For example, recruiters may be required to make and/or take 100 calls per day. This is not an easy task to achieve when manually dialing the telephone numbers and leaving a messages for those who don’t answer or having a meaningful conversation with those who do. And the recruiter must “scrub the data” as well…in other words, they must remove numbers that are no longer active and make other changes as necessary to ensure that time isn’t wasted in the future.
Along the same lines, some agencies may require a certain amount of “talk time” per day. I’ve seen requirements range between 2 hours and 4 hours per day. The idea is that actually speaking with candidates is more important than just dialing numbers. Some agencies have a trade-off between the two. For example, they may require 100 calls per day or 3 hours of talk time.
The telephone is so important to agencies that many have purchased sophisticated phone software and hardware that allows them to track data and automate the dialing process. For example, the user may be able to target all the RNs listed as ICU in the company’s database. When the user runs the campaign, the software automatically dials the telephone numbers while the recruiter waits on the telephone listening to hold music. The software can detect voice mail and will play a pre-recorded voice message if the call goes to voice mail. When a live person answers the call, the software pops up a screen with the candidate’s information so the recruiter knows who they’re speaking with.
Phone KPI requirements ultimately result in three outcomes that tend to understandably annoy many travel nurses. First, these requirements and call systems make it very difficult and sometimes impossible to call nurses only at certain times. This is why travelers get calls at inopportune or undesired times.
Second, the requirements can make it difficult to get your preferred name correct. For example, if your legal name is Patricia and you prefer to be called Patty, the recruiter may have a difficult time deciphering this. The rapid pace required to hit these stats can make it difficult to check all the notes in the database before making the call or making the initial phone introduction.
Finally, the rapid pace required sometimes forces recruiters to just make calls before looking at the notes in the database or reviewing a resume. Making a call takes seconds and there’s a very significant chance that the call is routed to voice mail. So making the call first is sometimes required because is takes less time which helps the recruiter meet their call volume requirements.
Again, while recruiters definitely use the other methods of sourcing mentioned above, the phone is typically viewed as the most important sourcing method. This is because success in travel recruiting is ultimately based on building relationships. Moreover, during the telephone conversation, recruiters can quickly and efficiently determine whether or not the candidate is qualified and whether or not the recruiter can help the candidate find the jobs they’re looking for.
Travel nurse submissions
The next step in the travel recruitment process is the submission process. There are two basic steps in this process. First, the recruiter must obtain a complete “submission profile” for the candidate. Second, they must obtain the candidate’s approval to be submitted for an assignment. Although, many travelers will be quick to point out that recruiters don’t always obtain their approval before submitting them…more on this below.
These two steps constitute two more KPIs that many agencies track to measure recruiter performance. First, many agencies track the number of completed submission profiles that recruiters achieve per week. A completed submission profile is typically comprised of an application and/or resume, a skills checklist, and two verified references.
A completed application may require that 100% of the information required by the agency’s client hospitals be present and accounted for. And hospitals often require a very detailed set of information including but not limited to various background questions, the last 7 years of work history, number of beds on the units and in the hospitals that the nurse has worked, and much more. Recruiters must often fill in the gaps when all the details aren’t provided by the candidate.
Sometimes, recruiters are responsible for contacting the candidate’s references. Other times, agencies delegate this task to someone else to ensure there are no conflicts of interest. In any case, verifying references often proves to be a very time-consuming task as they can be difficult to get a hold of.
When it comes to tracking completed submission profiles, agencies will typically establish a weekly quota. It may start out at 1 per week for brand new recruiters and work its way up to 5 or more for recruiters who have been manning the phones for a while.
The second step in the submission process is to submit the traveler to open assignments. Of course, this should also require that the recruiter get the traveler’s approval first. To do so, recruiters should spend time discussing the traveler’s desired locations and going over some sample travel nursing pay packages for various positions. The recruiter can then pitch various positions to the traveler and attempt to get thee traveler’s approval to be submitted.
When it comes to tracking submissions, agencies will typically establish a weekly quota. They may also categorize the submissions as “total” and “unique.” Each individual traveler submitted for an assignment would be considered a unique submission. And each individual submission would count toward the total. For example, if a recruiter submits one traveler for 5 different assignments, then they get one unique submission and 5 total submissions.
Newer recruiters may be held to a lower quota requirement than their experienced counterparts. However, it’s not uncommon for the quotas to be in the range of 5 unique submissions and 10 total submissions per week.
Of course, the question that all travelers want answered is, “Why would a recruiter submit me without my permission?” As a former recruiter who never did this, I can only guess as to why this happens. First, meeting quota goals is not easy and the pressure to do so may cause some to take this action. In fact, they may not even be counting on you getting the interview or finding out that you were submitted. The recruiter knows that submissions don’t necessarily result in interviews. So they roll the dice to get some stats toward their quota requirements.
Second, the recruiter may have thought they had the traveler’s permission while the traveler simply doesn’t see it that way. Many recruiters take a blanket approach to traveler permission. In this case, the recruiter might find out what the traveler is looking for, pitch a few assignments, and make an attempt to get the traveler’s approval to submit them for these and similar assignments. This approach often leads to confusion, especially for travelers.
Finally, recruiters may submit a profile to stay ahead of the competition. Some travel nursing jobs are highly competitive; they can get filled within the hour. So a recruiter might believe that they just don’t have time to contact the candidate first.
Interviews, Offers, and Signed Contracts
The next steps in the travel recruitment process are the interview, the offer, and the signed contract. As mentioned above, not every submission results in an interview. And there are a many variables pertaining to landing interviews that are outside a recruiter’s control. Despite this, many agencies maintain quotas for interviews.
Here again, agencies that maintain interview quotas typically maintain them on a weekly basis. For example, they might require a minimum of 2 interviews per week.
An agency might also track their recruiters’ submission to interview ratio. If they find that their interview to submission ratio is too low, then they might review the submission profiles that their recruiters are submitting to see if there are areas for improvement. Remember, recruiters are ultimately responsible for getting the profiles together and the more professional and thorough a profile is, the better chance it has for landing the interview. Of course, the agency may find that their recruiters are working with candidates who lack the desired qualifications for the jobs they’re being submitted for.
Offers are measured similarly. For example, agencies may require a minimum of 1 offer per week. And they may track the interview to offer ratio. If this ratio falls too low, the agency will make sure that recruiters are properly notifying and preparing their candidates for the interviews and submitting qualified candidates in the first place.
Once an offer is received, the recruiter’s primary objective is to get the candidate to accept the offer. I’ve heard that some agencies operate on “verbal agreements”. In my view, this is pure silliness. Most agencies rely on signed contracts. So the first thing the recruiter should do is draft a contract based on the compensation package they discussed with the traveler, email the contract, and call the traveler to request a review and either return the contract or let the recruiter know what needs to be added/changed.
Here again, agencies will measure their recruiters’ signed contracts or “contracts back.” Some agencies even measure “contracts out.” They will also typically track the ratio of signed contracts to offers. If the ratio falls too low, then the agency can try to determine why. Perhaps the recruiter is not qualifying their candidates’ interest in the assignments they’re being submitted for at the outset.
The next step in the recruitment process is ensuring that the traveler starts the contract as expected. Every recruiter knows that the deal isn’t really done until the traveler is green-lighted by the facility and walks through the door on schedule. And there are many loose ends to tie off between the time the contract is signed and the start date.
During this time, the recruiter must ensure that the candidate is set up with pay roll and benefits if necessary, make sure the travel nurse’s housing accommodations are secured if necessary, make sure the travel arrangements are in place, and perhaps the biggest bear of all, make sure all the credentialing is in place and accepted by the facility.
Different agencies handle these steps in different ways. Some agencies have dedicated employees who handle these tasks. Others provide their recruiters with some level of assistance in handling these tasks. And at some agencies, the recruiter is responsible for the entire process.
Here again, agencies will measure their recruiters’ “starts”; the contracts that are actually started. It’s common for starts to be measured on a monthly basis. For example, the agency may require 4 starts per month, and they may or may not include contract extensions as starts. Or they might require a number of “net starts” per month, which is the number of contracts starting versus the number of contracts ending. Agencies want to make sure that their recruiters are growing their books of business.
Agencies may also measure the ratio of signed contracts to actual starts. Here again, if the ratio drops too low, then they can try to determine why. Perhaps their credentialing process is broken or the housing options they offer are unacceptable.
For the most part, this is how a travel nursing recruiter’s job performance is measured. That’s because these are the activities that lead to the results agencies require. Even at agencies that don’t measure these KPIs, they are still in play. Agencies know that good sourcing techniques lead to submissions. And for every submission, they’ll get a certain number of interviews, and then a certain number of offers, and then a certain number of signed contracts, and then a certain number of starts.
As every traveler knows, recruiters also provide an entire set of customer service related functions while the traveler is on contract with them. And agencies certainly consider service levels when evaluating recruiter performance. We’ll discuss that topic in a future blog post.