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Recruiter Red Flags: 8 Things New Grads & New Travelers Should Look Out For!

Over the past six years, I’ve worked with multiple recruiters and multiple staffing agencies. I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredible recruiters! Unfortunately, I’ve also had my fair share of bad recruiter experiences. As a new grad or experienced clinician looking to travel for the first time, here’s what to look out for!

1) Response time –

How long does it take a recruiter to get back to you after you email them, send a text, or leave them a voicemail? Obviously, it isn’t fair to expect them to always be available to you instantaneously, but they should be relatively easy to get ahold of communicate with. If they are taking 24 hours or more to get back to you, it might not be a good fit. The travel therapy market moves quickly. Sometimes jobs open and close in a matter of 24 hour or less. A slow to respond recruiter could cost you an amazing job opportunity.

If they take forever to get back to you before they, have you on their books, what do you think will happen once they have you locked in?

To maintain a solid professional relationship and be considered an “A” list traveler in recruiters’ perspectives, be prompt with your responses to them when it comes to job opportunities and getting them the items needed to submit a full profile. If you appear wishy-washy, they might move on to other prospective travelers that are more punctual.

2) If a recruiter offers the same pay for each job….

As a traveler, you can’t expect to make the same amount for each assignment. In fact, you can’t even expect to make more as you gain experience. Sure, experience can come into play for some jobs, but not all of them. The pay package is determined by the bill rate for any given job. To put it simply, this is the rate the staffing agency can charge the facility for each hour a traveler works. The bill rate will vary for each assignment based on several factors.

Bill rates can range from $55-85/hour for PT jobs with the average falling around $65/hour. If a recruiter is telling you every job, they present you, pays the same amount, they are likely trying to take advantage of you as a newer traveler.

An educated response would be, “Do all these jobs have the same exact bill rate? That seems highly improbable. I’d expect that I could make the most possible off any given bill rate.”

To educate yourself more on bill rate, pay packages, and travel compensation, check out The Ultimate Salary Guide!

3) If a recruiter can suddenly come up a couple hundred dollars from the original pay quote after you receive an offer.

In 95% of cases, you should know the pay package prior to submitting to a job. This means, you should know what the total value of your package is. Agencies can choose to quote this in terms of gross pay (pre-tax) or net pay (after-tax), so be sure to pay attention to the language. If they quote you gross pay, you can use a net pay calculator to determine what your take home pay would be based on your individual tax filing circumstances.

Recruiters know the bill rate of the job they are submitting you to. Even if they are bidding on a job, they know what rate they are bidding you for and should be able to create a pay package based on that. Sure, some jobs will have bill rate ranges…. Even in that case, they should be able to give you a range with worst- and best-case scenario prior to submitting you so that you can make an informed decision as to whether you want to proceed with a potential interview.

If a recruiter suddenly comes up with a lot more money after you’ve received the offer, they were likely low balling you from the get-go. I don’t want to play games and expect the recruiters I work with to offer their best pay package up front.

I once had a recruiter ask me if I was expecting any reimbursements because the pay package didn’t include anything for travel or licensure. When I stated that for contracts as far as that contract would have been, I would expect some travel compensation. He stated, “Well, we went ahead and submitted you at a little higher rate assuming you might ask for something else”. This recruiter flat-out admitted they were going to make extra money off me if I did not ask for anything. I did not end up taking a contract with them and I never will.

4) If a recruiter tries to lower your pay package just because you need insurance

I once had a recruiter try to lower my pay package by $100 a week after I received a job offer, I really wanted. This did not seem right to me and I let the recruiter know that I would not be able to accept the job at a lower rate than the pay package offered in the original email. They stated, “If it’s a deal breaker, I won’t lower it”.

I later did some research and spoke to some staffing agency leadership. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not allow employers to pay employees more who do not need insurance. This can be looked at as discrimination against those you need medical insurance. The only way they could get away with this is if they blanket offer the benefit to all their employees. However, their plans still must pass the affordability test. If a traveler not needing insurance makes $100 more a week than a traveler taking insurance, the cost of the monthly insurance for the traveler opting in went up by $400. With the low taxable rates in travel therapy, this would not pass the affordability test.

For more on this, check out this helpful reference.

5) If a recruiter tells you that you cannot work with more than one recruiter

While there are some travelers that work solely with one recruiter, most travelers will work with 2-3 recruiters. If you are someone that is extremely flexible and open to location & setting, it would be possible to work with 1 recruiter. However, when you work with 1 recruiter and they know it, what incentive do they have to make you their absolute best offer? If they know there is no competition, there isn’t much incentive! If a recruiter tells you that you can’t work with more than 1 recruiter, they are not a good fit.

On the same token, be transparent that you are working with multiple recruiters. You do not need to divulge which other recruiters/companies you are working with. However, you need to be transparent about which jobs you are already submitted to when multiple recruiters present you the same position. Only submit to the position with 1 recruiter! Do not pit recruiters against one another! Once you have accepted a job, graciously let your other recruiters know so they can stop their search for you.

6) If a recruiter makes you feel that you must sign on with the company for longer than the length of the contract

This is not true. Some companies may try to talk you into a retention program. For example, some companies may offer you a bonus after a certain number of completed contracts. You should not have to sign anything to be eligible for this that forces you to stay on with the company for that length of time. Your commitment to that company is only for the length of the contract (typically 13 weeks for most travel assignments). If you want to sign on for another assignment with the same recruiter, great! If not, that’s ok too!

7) A recruiter telling a new grad that their new grad mentorship program consists of working in a SNF for the first six months.

It is no secret that many of the available travel assignments are in the SNF setting. In the past, certain agencies have tried marketing a new grad mentorship program in which you completed 6 months of SNF assignments. Do not be fooled by this. The SNF setting is the easiest setting for a recruiter to place new grads. However, if you are flexible with location, it is possible to avoid this setting. I started as a brand-new grad in 2015 and have yet to work in a SNF. If you are open to this setting, great! But you don’t have to be!

8) If a recruiter tells you that if they get you an interview, you must accept the job offer.

When I first started talking to recruiters as a new grad, I had multiple recruiters tell me, “If I get you an interview, you need to accept the job”. I did not end up working with them and neither should you! When you submit your profile for consideration of a travel assignment, you are not agreeing to accept the job if offered. You are agreeing to interview for the position. If during the interview, the position does not seem like it’ll be a good fit, you are under no obligation to take the position.


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