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

 

Why and How to Work with Multiple Travel Therapy Companies and Recruiters

Written by Whitney Eakin, PT, DPT, ATC

Understanding The Process

When therapists are looking at getting into traveling therapy, it can be challenging to learn the ins and outs and understand how it all works. If you’re new to travel therapy, you’ve hopefully already learned that you need to find a great recruiter and company to help you navigate the process of finding contracts and landing your dream jobs. However, did you know that you should be working with multiple companies and recruiters? We, as well as most other travel therapists you’ll talk to, recommend this. But why? And how does that even work? How can you work with more than one company? If you want to learn more, keep reading!

Why Do I Need Multiple Companies/Recruiters?

The answer: options! Not every travel company has access to the same jobs, so if you are working with only one company, you’re limiting your job options. This is especially true if you have a specific location or setting in mind, or if the market is particularly slow for your discipline, such as for PTAs and COTAs (and somewhat for OT’s) currently.

Why do different travel companies have different jobs? Facilities can choose who they advertise job openings to. Some staffing agencies (travel companies) have exclusive or direct contracts with certain facilities, that other agencies don’t have. Whereas, the majority of jobs are listed on a type of database called a Vendor Management System (VMS). All companies will have access to jobs listed on VMS’s. This is where you will see a lot of overlap in the job availability among different companies, but the outliers will be the exclusive or direct contracts each one has.

Besides job availability, another reason to work with multiple companies is that each company may be able to offer you different pay and benefits. Every company operates differently; depending on the size of the company and how they manage their budgets, some may be able to offer higher pay for the same job. Also their benefits can differ, including health insurance options (and start dates), retirement accounts (and when you can contribute), and additional benefits such as reimbursements for CEUs, licensing, and relocation. If you don’t work with multiple companies, you won’t ever know the differences and what benefits could be available to you with different companies. This is important to learn in the beginning when you’re first researching and talking to companies, but it’s also important during each and every new job search. Even if you tend to like the pay and benefits better with Company A, sometimes Company B might have a job that Company A doesn’t have. So it’s important to maintain communication with them both.

In addition to the differences in companies, there are differences in recruiters. It’s important, especially in the beginning, to work with multiple recruiters so you can find out which ones you like the best, as well as learn from them. Different recruiters may divulge more or less information about the process of finding travel jobs, the contracts, the pay, the benefits, etc. This is helpful for you from a business perspective. The more you can learn about the industry, the better off you’re going to be in your own career as a travel therapist. By working with only one recruiter, you’ll only ever know what that person tells you. You have no basis for comparison for whether this information is accurate or whether this is the best recruiter. You can also learn from the way that one recruiter/company does things and presents things to you, and compare that with the way another one works so you can ask better questions and grow professionally. All of these things can help you to find the best jobs, get the highest pay, and have overall the best experience as a travel therapist.

But, How Does it Work?

Okay so now you understand WHY you need to work with multiple recruiters/companies. But how?

So when we say “work with,” this just means maintain communication with them. You’re not technically working for them or an employee of theirs until you take a contract. So, the whole period where you’re searching for jobs, you are a “free agent.” You can be in communication with several different recruiters and have all of them searching for jobs for you.

We recommend initially you talk to 3-5 different recruiters and “interview them” to find out who you like. Here are some questions you may consider asking them to figure out who’s the best. Then narrow it down to about 2-3 that you like and would be happy working with/taking jobs with if the right opportunity arises. Then, you’ll need to fill out the necessary paperwork for each company, so that they are able to submit you for potential job offers. They’ll need some basic demographic information, your resume, usually a couple references, and sometimes even your CPR card and SSN in order to set up a profile for you that they can submit to potential employers. It’s important to understand that giving this information to 2-3 companies does NOT mean you are employed by them! They just need to have this information on file so that they can submit you to POTENTIAL job offers for interviews. So once you decide on your top 2-3 recruiters, don’t be hesitant to give them this information and fill out the necessary paperwork. Otherwise, they can’t submit you for potential interviews, which is the next step to getting you to your dream travel jobs!

Now, once you’ve got your 2-3 recruiters on the prowl for jobs for you, they’ll start letting you know when they see a good job that fits your search criteria. It’s important that you let them know you’re working with a few different companies, so they should not “blind submit” you to jobs. This means they should be asking you first (“There is a job in Tampa, Florida, start date 7/1, Skilled Nursing. Can I submit you to this job?”). When you’re working with multiple companies, it’s important that you don’t let them submit you to the same job, resulting in a “double submission.” (Although this is not the end of the world if it happens, it’s not ideal). If more than one of the recruiters has the same job offer, you need to pick which one you want to go with. Sometimes this comes down to which company can offer better pay or better benefits for the same job.

As far as communicating to the recruiters that you’re working with multiple, we always recommend being up front about this in the beginning. If you’re working with a good recruiter, they will understand this. If a recruiter gives you a hard time about working with others, this is not a recruiter you want to work with.

So, once you’ve been submitted to a couple jobs, maybe by a couple different recruiters, and you’ve had the interviews, then you may get an offer or more than one offer. You will decide then which job you want to take, based on how the job sounds, the pay package, the benefits etc. Once you’ve decided on a job, and you sign a contract, then you are now employed by that travel company that got you the job, just for the duration of that contract. This is when you let your other recruiters know that you’ve secured a position and are no longer searching, and no longer interested in the other potential job options they had for you. You let them know your end date for that contract, and when/where you’ll be looking for your next job.

While you’re on this contract and employed by this company, this recruiter will be your main point of contact. The company will manage your pay and benefits for the duration of that contract. But, you can still keep in touch with your other recruiters to let them know what you’re thinking for your next contract (“When I finish this job on October 1st, I’d like to take my next job in California.”) So as your contract nears its end date, you’re back on the market for a new job, and have no obligation to take the next job with the same travel company. You can switch between companies whenever you want.

How Do Benefits Work When Switching Between Companies?

Okay so this is always the next question. If you switch companies, what happens with your benefits? This can be the downside of switching between companies. This situation will vary company to company. It’s important to ask each recruiter how their insurance coverage works. Many will start on the first day of your contract. So if you finish up a contract with Company A and your insurance terminates on the last day of your contract, let’s say Friday- but then you start a new job with Company B on Monday, hopefully you’ll only go 2 days without insurance between jobs. However, if Company B’s insurance doesn’t start until day 30 or the first of the month, you’ll have a lapse in your insurance. Or, if you decide to take a longer period off between jobs, you’ll also have a longer lapse.

However, if you take your next contract with Company A (take two back to back contracts with the same company) and take a few days to a few weeks off between jobs, usually your insurance will carry over during the gap. This is a big benefit to sticking with the same company. It does vary by company the length of time they’ll cover you between contracts, but usually it’s about 3 weeks or up to 30 days.

There are some exceptions to this. There are a few smaller companies who have more flexibility in their agreements with insurance companies that will allow coverage to start before your job begins, or can extend coverage beyond your contract end date, even if you aren’t working for them during the next contract. But this is more rare, so you’ll need to ask around to find out if your travel company can do this.

To learn more about your options on insurance coverage, including using COBRA to manage lapses in coverage, check out this article on insurance as a traveler.

Besides insurance, another company benefit to consider is your retirement savings account, or 401k plan. This can be another downside of switching between companies, as many require you to work for them for a certain period before you are able to contribute to their 401k. This is the fine print you’ll need to look into if a company sponsored retirement account is important to you. Being eligible to contribute continuously to a 401k with your travel company may be a consideration that sways you to stay with the same company continuously.

There are some companies that allow contributions to 401k immediately, so it’s possible you could contribute to one during one contract, then another during another contract. In this case, you could be maintaining more than one 401k account. Then later, it’s pretty easy to roll them all over to an individual retirement account (IRA) that you manage rather than keeping different accounts with different companies.

Summary

So in summary, there are lots of benefits to working with multiple travel therapy companies/recruiters, but there are downsides as well. Most travel therapists, us included, will recommend you maintain communication with multiple to give yourself the most job options, help ensure the best pay, and learn the most about the industry to help set yourself up for success. However, this process can be challenging at times and does come with certain limitations when switching between companies during different contracts.

If you want to learn more or have questions, please feel free to contact us. If you’d like recommendations on travel therapy companies and recruiters we know and trust, we can help you with that here!