Travel Therapy Recruiters 101

An important first step to getting started as a traveling therapist (Travel PT, Travel OT, Travel SLP) is to find good recruiters to work with. The recruiter is your main point of contact when working with a travel therapy company and searching for travel therapy jobs. Your recruiter can honestly make or break your experience as a travel therapist, so it’s very important to choose good ones! But, how do you find them? And what’s the process like when working with recruiters? Let’s dive in to learn more!

What’s the Role of the Recruiter?

Most travel therapists work through a travel therapy company, aka a travel therapy staffing agency (as opposed to working as an independent contractor). There are a lot of advantages of using a travel therapy company, and overall it makes the process easier.

At the company, your main point of contact is the recruiter. The recruiter helps you get your profile/application set up with the company, walks you through the process, answers any questions you have, helps you navigate the job finding process, notifies you about new job opportunities, submits your application for jobs, and is there for you while you’re on contract to be a liaison for any issues that arise.

So as you can see, it’s vital to have a good connection with your recruiter(s), and to find the good ones! A good recruiter will be friendly, quick to respond, great with communication, very organized, trustworthy, honest, and knowledgeable! Check out this list of questions you should ask a company/recruiter so that you can choose the best ones!

Finding Good Recruiters

There are hundreds of travel therapy companies out there, and thousands of recruiters, so it can be difficult to narrow down the good ones! All companies and recruiters will market themselves as the best, but in reality not all of them are created equal! Even if you identify a company you like, there can be huge differences in the recruiters within an individual company.

If you just rely on the marketing of the companies themselves when Google searching or talking to companies at conference booths, you’re subject to them being very biased and trying to convince you they’re the best. This is why we don’t recommend going directly to companies you find on Google or at conferences and signing up on their email list. This is a sure fire way to get spammed constantly by their emails and get contacted by a bunch of random recruiters, whom may or may not be good!

The best way to find trustworthy recruiters is to go off recommendations from other travel therapists who have had good experiences with specific recruiters. If possible, you want to ask travelers who have worked with a few different companies and have been traveling for at least 2 years. This way they will have had enough time to know what to look out for with recruiters and will be able to give you the best advice.

Over the last several years we have interviewed dozens of companies and recruiters and worked with several different ones ourselves in order to narrow down some of the best ones. If you’d like our recommendations for recruiters, you can fill out this form, and we will take into account your personal preferences when recommending recruiters for you. We’ve found that different companies and recruiters work better for different people, based on what the individual is looking for, what’s important to them, and their personality!

Getting Established with Recruiters

We recommend getting started searching for recruiters at least 8 weeks prior to when you would plan to start a travel therapy job. If possible, you can even begin this process 3-4 months in advance. This will give you plenty of time to talk to several recruiters and narrow down who you like, then get a profile/application set up with each company. It’s important to have these steps done several weeks before you actually anticipate starting a travel job. It takes a little time to get your application set up, and you need to have this squared away so that your application is ready to go when jobs start popping up, so you can be submitted right away.

We always recommend that therapists work with 2-4 different recruiters, each at a different company. “Working with” multiple recruiters/companies means that you are keeping in communication with them, but you are not actually an employee of one company unless you are actively working a contract with them. The reason why you want to work with more than one is so you’ll have more job options available to you, as companies will not all have the same job options. In addition, it gives you an opportunity to compare offers including pay packages, benefits and more.

The Process of Working with Recruiters

When you have multiple recruiters, you want to be transparent and let each of them know that you’re also working with other recruiters. Some recruiters will give you some push-back on this and say that you only need to work with one, however usually the good recruiters will understand why you are working with multiple. This is standard practice, and it’s what most successful travel therapists do. It is always in your best interest to work with more than one recruiter/company so you don’t miss out on any job options, and so you can see the big picture by comparing offers.

There is a professional and tactful way to go about working with more than one recruiter. You want to have integrity and be a trustworthy traveler, so that the recruiters want to work hard for you. It’s important not to “pit” recruiters against each other on offers and not to burn bridges.

Generally, this is how it works: you stay in communication with all of your recruiters throughout each job search. They will present job options to you, and you will say whether you want your application submitted or not. It’s important to make sure that you don’t get submitted to the same job by two different recruiters. If two or more recruiters tell you about the same job, you need to choose right away which one you’d like to submit you for the job and tell the other one no. We usually recommend going with whoever told you about the job first, so you can take advantage of being submitted as quickly as possible (increasing your likelihood of landing the job) and to be fair to the recruiter who presented the job first. If two recruiters more or less tell you at the same time, you should have in mind already which one you’d like to go with over the other. Hopefully they can both give you a ballpark pay range when they first tell you about the job option, because it’s really too slow of a process if you have to go back and forth and try to find out who pays higher for the job and then make a decision. Waiting around to try to compare pay before submitting your application could result in losing out on your chance for the job interview!

During your job search, you might be submitted for multiple jobs with multiple recruiters at the same time. Then, if you get phone interviews and subsequent job offers, you’ll have to decide which one to take. Once you’ve accepted a job offer, you will respectfully let your team of other recruiters know that you’ve taken a job. Then, you’ll let them know the date that you’ll be done with that contract, so they’ll know a few weeks before that you’ll be ready to search for your next job. On the next job search, you go back to communicating with all of your recruiters to try to find your next job!

To learn more about why you should work with multiple recruiters, and how this process works, check out this article.

Summary for Finding & Working with Recruiters

The recruiter is your main point of contact at a travel therapy company, and your recruiters can make or break your experience as a travel therapist! We always recommend staying in contact with 2-4 different recruiters, so that you have more job options at your fingertips and can compare pay and benefits packages. It’s best to work with recruiters that experienced travelers recommend, so you can be sure they’ve been vetted! You can ask us for recommendations on recruiters we know and trust, and we will help you get set up with them!

There is some strategy and finesse involved when working with multiple recruiters, but once you figure out how to navigate this process, you’ll be well on your way to finding great travel therapy jobs and having a successful travel therapy experience!


Stay tuned for the rest of our Travel Therapy 101 Mini-Series in order to learn all the basics of travel therapy, including: pay, housing, working with recruiters, tax homes, and more!

If you have questions or are ready to get started on your travel therapy journey, please feel free to contact us or ask us for recommendations for our favorite travel therapy recruiters to help you get started!


Written by Whitney Eakin, PT, DPT, ATC

Whitney Eakin headshot

 

How Do You Find the Best Travel PT Companies?

Finding the Best Travel PT Companies

One of the most common questions we get regarding travel physical therapy is which companies we work with and which travel companies are the best. Surprisingly, we’ve even gotten this question more often than questions about travel PT salary recently. Most new or prospective travel PTs don’t realize that there are well over 200 travel therapy companies out there. With that many different choices, there’s no way to interview them all, much less pick one or two that are better than all the rest in every situation. That’s certainly not to say that there aren’t some that are better than others.

When Whitney and I first started traveling as new grad PTs in 2015, there was very limited information about the travel therapy industry available. Even with limited information, we did our best to find a few good travel companies to work with by word of mouth from current travelers. While that was certainly better than picking companies randomly from a Google search or signing up with a travel company at a conference booth, we quickly found that some companies and recruiters that were recommended to us weren’t very good. The reason for this wasn’t that the travelers we talked to didn’t have our best interest in mind, it was simply because they had limited experience with various companies. When you’re trying to find your first travel job, you only have so much time to put into finding good companies and recruiters, so most travelers pick a couple and then end up sticking with those same ones for their entire travel careers. They may like them well enough, but their perspective is understandably limited. So, the best recruiter and company that they have worked with may very well be in the bottom half of all the options out there. Add to this the fact that current travelers are incentivized to recommend the recruiters that they work with in order to receive referral bonuses, so they’ll often highlight the positives and overlook the negatives of their recruiters and companies. The result of these issues combined are a lot of bad recommendations being given to new travelers!

The Problem with Taking Travel PT Company Recommendations from Current Travelers

Whitney and I were not only impacted by this with the recommendations that we got for ourselves initially, but also when we gave recruiter recommendations to friends and acquaintances during our first couple years as travelers. Once I started writing articles on our original blog FifthWheelPT and gradually built a following, I started to get frequent questions about which companies I’d recommend. Being a new traveler, the only companies and recruiters that I knew of were the few that I had interacted with, so I started sending everyone to them. After all, why not? They had found Whitney and I jobs, been pretty decent, and they would also give me a bonus for sending people to them. It sounded like a win-win. The issue was that once I started branching out and talking to other companies, I realized that a couple of the initial companies/recruiters that I worked with either didn’t pay very well, weren’t very responsive, or were lacking in other ways. In short, they certainly weren’t the best travel PT companies.

It was then that I realized the flaws in the travel company recommendation system laid out above. Here are those flaws:

  1. New and prospective travelers don’t have tons of time to interview dozens of companies and recruiters to find a good fit.
  2. Since they don’t have the time, they rely on current travelers that they know to recommend companies and recruiters to them.
  3. Current travelers are incentivized to recommend companies and recruiters that they work with, even if they aren’t the best.
  4. The new traveler takes those travel PT company recommendations and begins working with subpar companies, and since they don’t know any better, they may or may not be happy with the choice.
  5. The cycle repeats itself when the following year new prospective travelers look for advice and get recommended those same companies/recruiters from the previously new PT, who is now incentivized to recommend them as well.

What’s the Solution to Finding the Best Travel PT Companies?

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out ways to avoid this cycle.

It drove me crazy over the years having travelers reach out and ask me questions, only to find that they had been being severely low balled or taken advantage of by their travel company, simply because they didn’t know any better and the company had been recommended to them. These situations are what give travel physical therapy a bad name. Those travelers have a bad experience with a recruiter that is not only paying them a low travel PT salary but also pushing them to take jobs that are not a good fit for them. They end up quitting travel PT after only a couple of contracts and telling other PTs to avoid travel as well. We talked to many of these therapists when starting out as new grad travel PTs, and they really made us second guess our decision for a while. That’s a shame, because with all the talk of burnout in the physical therapy world, I think that travel PT can be a solid choice for many new grads to avoid burnout.

Unfortunately there is no easy solution, and there certainly is no best travel PT company for everyone. They all have their pros and cons depending on desired setting, location, benefits, and pay. That is a major reason why we decided to start this website. We realized that individual travelers can’t put in all the effort to talk to dozens of companies to find which ones would be a good fit for them, but we could. Then when prospective travelers contact us looking for the best travel PT companies for them, we can ask them questions about their needs and desires, and then do our best to match them with a few companies/recruiters that should work well for them. Since starting this website, we have interviewed several dozen companies and recruiters to do our best to find which ones would be best for various different scenarios. We are now able to give recommendations with a much broader perspective than we possibly could have after only a couple years of being travel PTs and working with just a handful of recruiters.

Ways to Find the Best Travel PT Companies: Ranked from Best to Worst

#1 (Top Choice)

Take recruiter recommendations from a service that has put in the time to interview many different companies to find which ones are great and which ones are not.

We have spent a lot of time finding some of the best ones so that you don’t have to keep searching!

 

#2

Get recommendations from an experienced traveler (3+ years). Even though an experienced traveler has probably not interacted with tons of companies over the years, they will still have much more knowledge about the industry than a new traveler. And they have likely changed companies at least a few different times, which gives them more insight into what to look for in a good recruiter and company.

 

#3

Get recommendations from a new traveler that you know (0-3 years). This is certainly better than picking a company at random, since hopefully you can trust that person to not recommend someone that has been bad for them. But, it’s important to recognize that they will likely have a very limited perspective and will just be recommending to you the same companies/recruiters that were recommended to them.

 

#4

Use Google searches and job websites to find reviews for various companies and research them yourself. You can sometimes find good companies this way based on reviews, but you’re limited by the names that you know to search for, and there are also limitations to reading through various good/bad reviews. The biggest issue here is that even if you find a great company, you don’t know if the recruiter you get set up with is good or not. The recruiter can really make or break your experience with a company, not only in terms of communication, but also in terms of pay as we’ve found out over the years.

 

#5

Go to PT conferences and talk to different recruiters and companies to find a couple that you like. This can work, but you have to remember that recruiters are salespeople and your initial conversation often sounds wonderful. They’re trying to sell you on their company and themselves as a person. That initial conversation doesn’t tell you anything about how good the company really is, or how responsive that recruiter will be when it really matters. Also, what often happens is you get signed up for call lists that are nearly impossible to get off of!

 

#6 (Last Resort)

Rely on advertisements for travel companies and cold calls from recruiters. This is the worst. Not only does this almost ensure that you won’t get a good recruiter, but often the companies that spend the most on advertising and marketing pay the least! We’ve found this repeatedly over the years. Typically, recruiters making cold calls are either not very good recruiters, or are new, which can be hit or miss. The best recruiters get plenty of business from referrals and have no need to call random people to try to drum up business. Stay away from ads and cold calls!

 

Other Considerations when Finding Travel PT Companies

We’ve learned a lot over the years about the travel industry and how it works. Here are a few other considerations that you should pay attention to as a new travel therapist looking for the best travel PT company:

  1. It is vital to work with more than one travel PT company/recruiter on each job search. The main reason for this is so that you have the largest number of job options available to you to find a job that seems like the best fit for you. This is especially true for new grad PTs. Another reason is that this introduces some healthy competition between the recruiters that you’re working with and makes them more likely to give you their best pay offer right off the bat. Recruiters are only paid a commission if you take a job with them, so if they know that you will be getting offers for jobs from recruiters at other companies as well, then they know if they try to low ball you on pay then they’ll likely miss out on landing a job for you.
  2. Even if you find the best recruiter ever, that doesn’t mean they will always be good. You see, recruiters are people too that have things going on in their lives, and personal issues can easily lead to a recruiter being less responsive or spend less time job searching for you. In addition, good recruiters can quickly become very busy from word of mouth and referrals, and the more busy they become, the less time they have to spend on each individual traveler. We’ve had this happen several times over the years.
  3. Some recruiters and companies really shine in certain areas, but fall short in others. This is a major reason why taking company recommendations from current travelers with limited experience can lead to issues. For example, you might get suggestions from a traveler that is a school based PT and has found a company that has found them consistent contracts in that setting. You, on the other hand, might be a die hard outpatient PT (like me), and maybe that company has very few jobs in the outpatient setting. Most recruiters aren’t going to tell you upfront that they don’t have as many jobs as other companies in a certain area because they want your business. This can mean that you get strung along and eventually placed in a less than ideal situation once you become desperate and settle. Avoid that!

Bottom Line on Finding the Best Travel PT Companies

Unfortunately there is no one “best” company or even a few best companies since so much depends on your unique situation. Taking recommendations from current travelers is certainly better than choosing companies/recruiters at random, but it can lead to a lot of issues since the traveler is incentivized to recommend companies that they work with whether they’re truly above average or not. This becomes obvious when you see the majority of brand new travelers on Facebook and Instagram raving about their recruiters and companies and offering to give their info out to anyone that wants it. Not only are they incentivized to recommend the ones they work with, but they also have a very limited perspective to know what a good or bad company/recruiter actually look like. Even if their recruiter and company truly are amazing, that doesn’t mean they will be the right fit for you with your unique needs! This is an issue with no easy solution, but we’re doing our best to methodically interview companies and recruiters to find the best travel PT companies for many different situations to give more informed recommendations.

If you want us to help you in your search for companies and recruiters, then fill out this questionnaire and we’ll match you with a few based on your situation!

If you have any questions about this topic or anything else travel related, check out our other articles as well as our weekly Facebook Live videos! If you don’t find the answer to your question then contact us!

 

Written by Jared Casazza, PT, DPT

img_8842