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Questions to Ask Your Travel Therapy Recruiter

One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to traveling medical professionals is that having a good recruiter is essential to your success and happiness as a traveler.

It is invaluable to have someone on your side who listens to your needs, communicates quickly and efficiently, and operates ethically.

There is also this magical, somewhat ethereal quality that I refer to as “vibing” with someone that I find so important to have with a recruiter. For me, it’s someone who is friendly and open while remaining professional.

It’s someone who I can take any question or concern to without hesitation or fear. It’s someone who I’ve never met in person but would go out of my way to grab lunch with if we happened to be at the same town at any point. It’s honestly not dissimilar to how I try to operate as an occupational therapist.

But finding that person (and really, people, since it’s good policy to work with several recruiters when searching for a position) is not always easy. The following questions should both help to find a good recruiter and make sure that your needs are being met as you move throughout the travel process.

Prior to Taking a Contract

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This is the stage where you are hopefully speaking to several recruiters to try to find some that are a good fit for you. While you will only end up taking a contract with one of them, at least initially, it’s a good idea to seriously speak with several, that way you can compare pay packages and make sure you are casting a wide net, especially if you have preferences for setting or location.

These questions to ask the recruiters should give you an idea of both the recruiter’s style as well as the travel company’s policies – which tend to vary slightly from place to place. It’s a good idea to get these questions out of the way now that way there are no surprises down the line if you do end up accepting a contract with them.

  • How long have you been a recruiter?
  • What is your preferred method of communication?
  • If I work with you, what is your typical response time?
  • How would you describe your personality?
  • What is your favorite part of your job?
  • How long has your company been operating?
  • What benefits (health insurance, 401k matching, PTO, bereavement) does your company offer?
  • Am I eligible for benefits on Day 1 of my assignment, or is there a waiting period?
  • How many weekly hours are considered “full-time” in order to receive benefits?
  • What reimbursements (travel, mileage, licensure) does your company offer?
  • Does your company offer assistance with obtaining licensure?
  • Does your company offer assistance with securing housing?
  • Does your company ever pro-rate housing and meals stipends?
  • Does your company offer any opportunity for CEUs?
  • Do you currently have jobs listed for my specialty in my preferred areas? If not, do you expect to see them come up?
  • In what areas do you see the highest pay/need for my specialty?
  • Do you ever submit therapists to assignments without asking first?
  • What mentorship and support does your company offer?
  • I’m traveling with a COTA/PT/SLP/Nurse. Will you also be able to find assignments for them, or should they use a different recruiter?

When Deciding on a Contract

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After you decide to work with a recruiter, you’ll give them the green light to look for potential assignments for you. Before submitting your profile to the facility, you’ll have the opportunity to ask your recruiter questions to see if it’s a good fit. Your recruiter should know most of these already, but some they may not know until making more contact with the facility.

If you do like the position, you’ll also get the opportunity to interview the company directly, so some of these questions may be asked then as well. You’ll also be able to ask some of the more nitty-gritty stuff your recruiter might not know, such as the size of a territory for a home health position, or how many buildings you’d be expected to cover as a school-based therapist.

  • Have you had travelers at this facility before? How did they like it?
  • Why is the facility using a traveler to fill a position?
  • Is the facility looking for a permanent therapist? Is an early cancellation likely?
  • If the facility does need to cancel, how many weeks notice are they required to give me? How many am I required to give them?
  • Does the contract have guaranteed hours? How many?
  • Does the contract have productivity requirements? What happens if they aren’t met?
  • Will I be expected to work overtime? If so, will my overtime rate represent 1.5x my blended rate?
  • Will I be expected to work holidays? If so, will I make a holiday rate?
  • What days off are built into the contract?
  • What is the policy on taking personal days?
  • If I don’t take the company health insurance, can I expect the amount the company would normally pay towards that added to my take-home pay?
  • If I decide to take company housing, what would my take-home pay be?
  • What is the dress code of the facility?

During a Contract

At this point, if things go as planned, everything should be pretty hunky-dory and your communication with your recruiter will decrease. That being said, if you have any question or issue, bring it up right away so you can work together to solve it. Even if you don’t have any pressing concerns, expect a weekly or semi-weekly quick check-in with your recruiter unless you request more or less frequent communication.

  • I had an unexpected work expense. Is it reimbursable?
  • I have an issue. Can you help me solve it?
  • Is there an opportunity to extend? If so, will my pay increase?
  • When should we start looking for my next contract?

Finishing a Contract and Looking for a New One

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You’re almost done! At this point, questions will focus on wrapping up and getting your next assignment. If you’ve enjoyed working with this recruiter/company, great! Let them know if you intend to take off any time between contracts or if you’d like a new assignment right away and they can begin looking for you.

If it’s been a less than ideal experience, now is the right time to politely but directly let them know that you will not need their assistance in securing another contract. If you feel comfortable sharing the reasons you are choosing to no longer work with them, I would try to kindly let them know. Criticism is awkward, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to forge strong traveler-recruiter relationships, and the recruiter might not even realize what they’re doing is putting people off.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve had a great experience let your recruiter know! It is a harder job than travelers realize sometimes. That being said, be open to the fact that no matter how great your relationship may be with this particular recruiter/company, there may be others who have better opportunities for your next contract. And the best of the best recruiters will sincerely want you to pursue what is right for you. When contracts are only 13 weeks, they know you’ll probably be talking to them again soon anyway.

  • Do you currently have contracts in my preferred areas?
  • Do you currently have contracts in my preferred settings?
  • Do you have any interesting or niche contracts right now?

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A good recruiter will never shame you for asking a question, so don’t hesitate to ask until you totally understand a situation. Most travel contracts are short, but they’re contracts all the same, so it’s important to have clarity about what you are signing.

That being said, remember that your recruiters are not all-knowing beings – so if they initially don’t have the answer to a question, trust that they will return with a response for you.

Lastly, communication is a two-way street – be sure to respond to your recruiter with the same kindness, transparency, and speed that you’d expect from them. That is the recipe for success as a travel therapist.

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