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What You Need to Know About Finding, Landing, and Keeping a Job

Now that you know the history of travel nursing, some of the pros and cons, the education and licensing you’ll need, and the factors that go into travel nursing salaries, it’s time to start hunting for the perfect position! That means you’ll need a killer resume that’s going to make you stand out in a competitive industry. Here’s how to find a job, land a job, and keep your travel nursing assignments.

Top Three Travel Nurse Resume Tips

1. Details, details, details!

Make sure your resume is as detailed as possible. Not only do you want to include your certificates, certifications, and information about where you’ve previously worked travel nursing assignments, but dig deeper than that. Include as much as you can about your experiences, such as the number of beds in your unit, patient ratios, what floors you’ve worked on, and your attendance record. It’s also a good idea to mention the size of the hospital and the level of trauma. You want to include several years of work history, as far back as seven, according to some recruiters.

2. Be honest and open

Being as honest and open as possible goes hand in hand with including as much detail as you can. When you’re being interviewed for a travel nurse position, interviewing managers want to make sure you can handle the tasks and work load that you’ll face at the new hospital. It doesn’t do you or the hospital any good if you lie about your experience or knowledge. If you lie about your experience and arrive on site with little, if any, training, it will be obvious really fast. The last thing you want is a travel nurse assignment that doesn’t work out because you oversold yourself.

3. Remember references

When you’re applying for travel nurse positions, keep in mind that this process happens quickly. You may apply and get a call back just a few hours later, so make sure you have on-hand a list of facilities you’ve worked for as well as who the charge nurse was while you were there. It’s best practice to keep the names and phone numbers of all charge nurses who you’ve worked under so that you have them readily available to use as references as needed. What hospitals you worked for and how you performed while you were there is much more important to the interviewing manager than which healthcare agency you’re with or have used in the past.

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Is your resume ready to go? Submit an application on TravelNurseSource today!

Where to Look for Travel Nursing Assignments

Once you have your killer resume ready, the next step is to send it to healthcare agencies and recruiters so that they can place you with a travel job. You can start this process by browsing the internet for specific healthcare agencies or recruiters and send your resume to them directly. Another option for finding jobs is to use a niche job board website such as TravelNurseSource. Using a niche job board allows you to streamline the job search process, because you’re able to upload your resume and search for travel nursing assignments in one place. After that, healthcare agencies and recruiters who have jobs that meet your qualifications can find you and give you a call. Although there are many benefits to using a job board site, it’s also important to understand how job boards work.

Using a Job Board Website to Find Travel Nursing Assignments

With that said, we’ll first go over the benefits of using a job board site and then go into the nitty gritty on exactly how they work.

  1. Compare agencies

    Job board websites allow you to view agency profiles. This way you can easily compare what benefits each agency offers, where they’re located, and what they’re all about. This is a lot easier than clicking from website to website on a long Google search. Trust us when we say there are many healthcare staffing agencies out there!

  2. Compare benefits

    Like we mentioned above, having a list of agencies all in one place allows you to easily see what benefits each agency offers and what agency fits best with your needs and wants. This will quickly give you a good idea of what you can expect from a travel job and what benefits are considered extra perks.

  3. Compare jobs across states

    TravelNurseSource allows nurses to search for jobs by state or specialty, which helps to narrow down the search. This can give you a general idea of which states have the most travel nurse assignments and which states have less of a need.

  4. Access to recruiters

    You also have access to lists of recruiters on a job board site. These recruiters are all knowledgeable in the industry and extremely important when it comes to life as a travel nurse. You can browse through the list and find a little bio about each recruiter. This will help you get an idea if they’re someone you’ll mesh well with or not.

  5. Agencies and recruiters can find you

    Of course, you can just browse the job board site, but if you choose to fill out an online application form, healthcare agencies and recruiters who meet your criteria, or who know of jobs you’re looking for, can find you. This is great, because you can apply and sit back waiting for the phone to ring. And it will. With that said, this brings us to understanding how job boards work.

A computer screen showing a travel nurse interview

Travel Nurse Assignments: How Niche Job Boards Work

When you fill out an online application on a job board website, it stores your information in a database. Agencies and recruiters who are paying to use the job board services have access to your information, which is how they call you.

If, for some reason, you are no longer interested in travel nursing, you should remove your information from the job board site. However, keep in mind that recruiters and agencies could already have your information saved somewhere within their own private database. Therefore, sometimes you will continue to receive calls after you don’t want them anymore.

If you receive unwanted calls about travel nursing, here’s how to handle it:

  1. Call the job board and let them know that you want your information removed. This way the job board will take your application down and stop distributing it to healthcare agencies or recruiters moving forward.
  2. Once you call the job board site, remember that there are agencies and recruiters out there who still have your information. If you are getting calls from them about jobs, don’t simply ignore them. They will keep calling. We highly recommend that you answer those calls and let them know you’re no longer interested and ask to be removed from their list. This way the agencies and recruiters will remove you from their call list and you’ll save yourself a lot of wasted time.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of job board websites, let’s get back to the big picture when it comes to the job search.

When you are searching for the perfect job, know that there are two different ways that a healthcare agency will help hospitals fill nursing positions. The first way is that the healthcare agency will work directly with the hospital. The hospital will tell the agency exactly what position they need filled, they’ll work out a contract and the agency will find a nurse. The second way is that the agency works through the hospital’s vendor. A vendor is similar to an agency except that the vendor has a contract directly with the hospital deeming them the hospital’s only point of contact for staffing. The vendor will then work with different staffing agencies to place nurses at the hospital. The most convenient way to land a nursing job is when the healthcare agency is working directly with the medical facility, because there are no vendor fees and job acceptance tends to happen faster. With vendor jobs, there is more competition between candidates, Lauren Alston, a recruiting manager for Indiana-based Medical Staffing Solutions LLC said. Nurses should expect an answer within 72 hours of applying to a travel position, but some vendors take longer. The best advice that Alston could give when it comes to the job search – start searching for your next travel assignment halfway through your current assignment.

"Start searching for your next travel assignment halfway through your current assignment.”

Another important thing to note when looking for travel nursing jobs is how competitive the market is. Certain destinations are more competitive than others, so consider going places that others are not willing to go. This can help you not only get a job faster, but also earn higher pay, according to a Ohio-based ProLink Healthcare Account Manager Luke Neilheisel. Another ProLink account manager, Deb Simpkins, chimed in that when searching for jobs, have an open mindset about why you want to travel. “My happiest travel nurses are in it for the adventure and to experience new challenges and environments. Sometimes locations you never thought of going to end up being your favorite assignments,” Simpkins said. “Also remember not all contracts are the same. Location, time of year, changes in the market are all factors in the pay you’ll receive.”

Check out these open travel nurse jobs!

With that said, here are five steps to take in order to find the perfect travel nurse job:

Five Tips for Finding Travel Nursing Assignments

  1. Find a good recruiter/agency that you trust

    When searching for your ideal agency, be sure to exhaust all of your options. Do a simple Google search, use a job board website like TravelNurseSource, or even call agencies or recruiters that current travelers recommended to you. No matter how you decide to start your search, the end goal is to find an agency and a recruiter that you work well with. Don’t be shy. Ask the recruiter for referrals from other travelers to give you a better feel for what your experience will be like with them. Consider what benefits the agency offers and how easy both the agency and the recruiter are to get in touch with during your correspondence with them. Your relationship with your recruiter is going to be essential to your success, according to the travel nurses interviewed for this guide. Because of the importance of the relationship between a travel nurse and a recruiter we decided to outline a list of things to look for in a recruiter!

    Your Recruiter Should Be…

    • Personable

      Not only should your recruiter be a good communicator, but the two of you should click. It’s essential that your recruiter is personable and that you have a friendly and open relationship with them. If you don’t feel like you’re being open and honest with your recruiter or vice versa, your chances of working well together and finding you successful travel assignments are unlikely.

    • Available

      Not only should your recruiter be friendly and easy to talk to, but they should also be available when you need them. If they’re constantly forgetting to respond to emails or not answering their phone, this is a red flag. You need your recruiter to be available to you. The travel nursing industry moves at a fast pace and there’s no time to play games or phone tag with your recruiter.

    • Knowledgeable

      The third quality you want to look for in a recruiter is knowledge. You want to find a recruiter who is a veteran in the industry and knows the ins and outs. A knowledgeable recruiter will know more healthcare facilities, will have had more success in placing nurses, and will be able to show you the ropes. As a new travel nurse, your recruiter is essentially your life line in the industry, so pick a good one!

  2. Know your strengths and goals in travel nursing

    It’s important to know what you want out of travel nursing and what you have to offer as a travel nurse. For example, if you don’t have any experience working in a large healthcare facility, make sure that your recruiter is aware of that and seek jobs that are similar to what you know and are comfortable with. You can gradually move to larger hospitals as you gain experience, but the last thing you want to do is land a job that puts you in over your head. Moving to a new place, starting a new job, and settling in are hard enough. You shouldn’t have to stress over your work environment as well. Also, know ahead of time what your priorities are – location or pay. Dream destinations like Hawaii don’t always offer the highest pay, so know what you want before starting out.

  3. Do your own research so you’re not going in blind

    Do your own research when you go into travel nursing. Don’t just take a recruiter or agency’s word for it, look into it on your own. For example, talk to an accountant about how travel nurse taxes will work specific to your situation. If your agency offers housing, make sure you do your research on how much they pay for, what the location is like, and the general quality of the housing overall.

  4. Be responsive and honest

    If your recruiter is calling you about a job, answer it! Don’t be hard to get in touch with, because travel nursing assignments go quickly. If you don’t answer first, someone else will. You also should not try to make yourself sound better or more knowledgeable than you actually are. The key to having a genuine and beneficial travel experience is to always be honest. You can’t always control if the people around you are telling you the truth, but you can control the accuracy in how you present yourself to them. In a perfect world, both sides will be honest and forthcoming, and your travel experience will be exactly as it was promised to be.

  5. Plan ahead so you have ongoing assignments

    The trick to being a successful travel nurse is to continually have assignments lined up so your pay and travel is consistent. Most of the experts we spoke with suggested to start looking for a new travel assignment about six weeks prior to when you want to start working. So basically, about halfway through your travel assignment, which is typically 13 weeks, your recruiter will start helping you to find and start the paperwork for your next travel assignment. This gives you time to decide on a location and find a position that you want, as well as start on the paperwork and interview process. The ideal time frame is about four to six weeks in advance of when you want to start your new contract.

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A male and female shaking hands at a travel nursing interview

Interview Tips to Land Travel Nursing Assignments

Hopefully, a killer resume and applying to jobs will lead to that anticipated phone call about a job. Once that happens, next comes the interview process. This is critical in landing the travel nursing job of your dreams, so consider these tips from people who know the ins and outs of travel nursing interviews!

Three Interview Tips to Land Travel Nursing Assignments

  1. Be available

    When someone calls you about an interview, know that time is of the essence. Be available when they want to interview you, because if you’re not, chances are another qualified candidate will be.

  2. Be honest

    Just like you want to be honest on your resume, being open and honest during the interview is also equally important. Remember that you’re most likely chatting on the phone or via Skype, so this makes it a little more challenging to gauge someone’s personality and sincerity.

  3. Ask questions

    Ask a lot of questions! Asking a lot of questions will show the agency and recruiter that you are genuinely interested in the position and want to succeed if you are the chosen candidate.

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Shary Price, Marketing Director for Ohio-based Advantage RN, was kind enough to share some questions you should ask during your travel nursing interview!

Top 10 Travel Nurse Interview Questions

  • Where is the hospital located?
  • Who will I report to and what is their name and title?
  • What are the shifts/rotations and floating requirements for the position?
  • What type of patients are on the unit and how many beds are in the unit/hospital?
  • Is there overtime availability?
  • What will the on-call responsibilities be for this position?
  • How will scheduling work for weekend and holidays?
  • What is the nurse-to-patient ratio for this position?
  • How many other travelers will be in the unit/hospital?
  • What is the start date?

Travel Nursing Assignments: Before You Go Checklist

Before starting a new travel nursing job ask your recruiter exactly what you need upon arrival. Requirements can vary depending on the healthcare facility, so it’s important to know exactly what is expected of you on the first day. With that said, here’s a general outline of what you might need before you leave for your next travel nursing assignment:

Before You Go: Checklist

  1. Make sure you have all of the immunizations you need…
    1. Hepatitis B
    2. Influenza
    3. Tetanus
    4. All childhood immunizations
  2. Your packing list should include things like…
    1. Clothing and shoes, including your uniforms and work shoes!
    2. Personal care items like toiletries
    3. Entertainment like books, magazines and electronics
    4. Medications
    5. Houseware including pillows, blankets, and other things to make you feel at home
    6. Car prep. If you’re driving to your assignment, make sure your car is ready for the road trip!
  3. Don’t forget important documentation such as…
    1. Birth certificate
    2. Social Security Card
    3. Insurance Cards (auto, health, etc.)
    4. Health Information/Prescriptions
    5. Tax Documentation
    6. Copies of your contract and assignment information

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