One of the hardest parts about getting started as a travel therapist (Travel PT, Travel OT, or Travel SLP) is finding great travel therapy recruiters. When we started as new grad travel PTs, this was certainly the hardest part for us. Even knowing what questions to ask and how the travel-recruiter relationship works can be difficult for new travel therapists. We reached out to other travelers for recommendations when we first started, but what we found is that often other travelers only ever work with a couple of recruiters for their entire time traveling.
This means that they don’t really have a very broad perspective on what a really good or really bad recruiter actually is, and on top of that they’re incentivized to send you information for the recruiters they work with, whether good or bad, since they can get a referral bonus if you end up working with them. That’s a recipe for extreme bias and why it’s not uncommon to talk to 10 different travelers and hear why their recruiter is “the best” while all of them have a different recruiter.
This is further complicated by the fact that some really great recruiters work for companies that aren’t great (low pay, few jobs, poor benefits), and even the best travel companies don’t always have the best recruiters. So when you’re looking for an awesome recruiter, it’s also vital to take into account the company they work for and if that company fits your needs as a traveler.
Finding Great Travel Therapy Recruiters
This complication was a major reason why we started Travel Therapy Mentor. From our articles about travel physical therapy on our Fifth Wheel PT blog early in our travel careers, we started getting more and more people reaching out to us asking for travel therapy recruiter recommendations. We’d send them to the recruiters that we’d worked with, but we started to realize that we really had no idea if those were actually the best recruiters at the best companies or not, they were just the ones that we knew.
At that point we decided to start Travel Therapy Mentor and work on it as more than just a part time blog, in order to provide the best possible information, education, and recruiter recommendations for current and aspiring travel therapists. We started systematically interviewing travel companies and recruiters to find the best ones in order to help new travelers get started on the right foot. Now after interviewing over 80 recruiters at 20 different travel companies, we’ve learned a lot about not only what makes a good recruiter but also about the traveler-recruiter relationship, and why the best recruiters often change over time.
The Traveler-Recruiter Relationship
One thing that baffled us early in our travel PT careers was that we’d often get referred to a recruiter from an experienced traveler who said that the recruiter was wonderful, only to have a bad experience with that recruiter. These were travel therapists that we knew and trusted, so we were pretty sure that they weren’t just lying to us about the recruiter in hopes of getting a referral bonus. Later on, this started occasionally happening when we’d send a recruiter that we had a great experience with to a new traveler. Sometimes they’d also have a great experience with that recruiter, but sometimes we’d hear very negative feedback that shocked us. Gradually, we started to realize what was going on with these situations.
Every recruiter and every traveler is different. Each recruiter has their own communication style and way that they approach a job search. Each traveler has their own communication style and expectations. Whitney and I prefer communicating mostly by text and email, we like to do most of the research on jobs and locations ourselves, and only really want contact from recruiters when there’s an update about our job search or if an issue arises. We don’t need a recruiter to be checking in with us daily if nothing has changed, especially while on contract. Our ideal recruiter is someone that is hard working and stays on top of updating us about good fitting contracts, responds quickly to our texts or emails, but otherwise doesn’t bother us.
Not All Travel Therapists are Alike
What we’ve found though is that some travelers are like us, but some are completely different. Some want a recruiter that calls them daily to check in even if there are no updates, and may dislike text or email exchanges. What this means is that the recruiter-traveler relationship is always unique, and an amazing recruiter for someone else may not work well for you at all. This is a big reason why we ask questions about you and what you’re looking for on our recruiter recommendation form to get a feel for what type of traveler you are and which companies and recruiters should work best for you.
What Makes a Great Travel Therapy Recruiter?
Now, since each traveler has their own preferences as mentioned in the previous section, some of what makes a great travel therapy recruiter for you will vary, but some things are pretty universal.
First and foremost, you want a recruiter that works at a travel company that works well for your situation. It doesn’t do you any good to find an amazing recruiter at a travel company that doesn’t have any, or very few, school based contracts when you only want school based travel jobs. It also doesn’t do any good to find an awesome recruiter that worked for a travel therapy company has primarily east coast travel jobs when you’re looking for contracts in Alaska and Hawaii. This also goes for some companies that specialize more in one discipline over another.
Getting a recommendation from a travel PT friend for a wonderful recruiter that works at a company with mostly outpatient PT jobs doesn’t do you much good if you’re a travel OT or travel SLP interested in totally different settings. For this reason, I think it’s usually a waste of time to start trying to interview and find a recruiter without first knowing if the company that they work for has the contract availability and benefits that you need.
Responsiveness is Key
Now that we’ve mentored many thousands of current and aspiring travel therapists, there’s one trait that comes up over and over when we ask them what they like about their favorite recruiters. That trait is responsiveness. It seems that just about every recruiter that we hear great things about is very responsive and quick to get back to the traveler when they have a question or if an issue arises. If you’re interviewing recruiters and trying to find a great one to work with, starting by looking at how responsive they are, within reason, is a very good idea.
Another common trait for great recruiters is experience. Experienced recruiters often have not only more knowledge about the industry but also more insight about specific facilities since they’ve often had travelers in some of them in the past. We love having recruiters that can give us the inside scoop, either good or bad, on a facility that we’re considering based on feedback they’ve gotten from prior travelers at that location. That kind of recruiter experience and knowledge has saved us from taking some contracts that probably would have been terrible for us in the past.
Recruiters Changing Over Time
Another important realization that we had early on in our travel careers is that a great recruiter now won’t always be a great recruiter two or three years in the future. The reason for this is that recruiters are human just like us, and their life circumstances, dedication to their job, and interests change over time. We’ve had many great recruiters in the past that we end up no longer working with based on these sorts of changes. Maybe you have a great recruiter that gets married and has a baby, and suddenly their priorities change and they are no longer as responsive as you had come to expect. This is very normal and happens all of the time.
Another situation we see often is that word gets out about a really great recruiter early in their career, and as time goes on, they start to get much more busy and are no longer able to be such a go-getter for all of their travelers like they once were. This is only natural because everyone only has so many hours in a day, and as a recruiter starts working with more and more travelers, they can’t spend as much time on each one. It’s awesome to find a recruiter that meshes well with you and stick with them, but just be sure to periodically re-evaluate and make sure things are still going well over time.
We’re Here for You
Finding awesome recruiters at really good companies is vital for success as a new traveler, but it’s often overwhelming with all of the options out there. There are over 100 travel companies placing therapists in travel contracts right now, and some of those companies have dozens or hundreds of travel therapy recruiters. Finding the right ones can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. We’ve done our best to do the work for you by interviewing as many companies and recruiters as possible to be able to match travelers with the good ones. If you’re lost on finding travel therapy companies and travel therapy recruiters, fill out our recruiter recommendation form. By providing us some information about you and what your wants/needs are, we’ll do our best to get you set up with a few travel therapy recruiters that should work well for your specific situation!