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The job market for travel therapists has been on the decline for almost a year. In the summer and early fall of 2019, companies started to reduce staffing in the wake of PDPM and PDGM Medicare cuts. The down job market was then followed by the first wave of COVID, which now appears to be turning into a second wave.
The bottom line is that the job market for traveling therapists isn’t good.
My best advice to travelers or wannabe travelers is to secure a job for the longer term. This might be a permanent position, or maybe for SLPs a 9-month school contract.
If you are still yearning to travel, or travel is your only option now, here are my tips for navigating the job market.
1. Be Flexible & Have a Backup Plan
Being flexible is the buzzword of the year for travel therapy. But what does that mean? It means being open to any and all positions that may open up. This includes jobs that aren’t your setting of choice, where you want to be geographically, or don’t meet your pay criteria.
Speaking of pay: pay rates have dropped.
It’s hard to find those same high rates that contractors were offering a year ago. This doesn’t mean that pay will drop forever. In the past, I’ve seen the rates go down, and then rise again. It does mean that they are not paying as well now as they used to.
With the decrease in jobs and pay, it is very important to have a backup plan. This could be an emergency fund of money or a side job that you work (teaching English online, telepractice clients, being a virtual assistant, or Rover can all be good side jobs for travelers). Whatever it is, have a backup plan to help you through the hard times financially.
2. Work with Multiple Agencies
While, for the most part, agencies will have most of the same jobs, that can vary. It can be helpful to work with multiple agencies to get the largest selection of jobs. Some agencies do specialize in certain areas, like school contracts.
3. Give One Recruiter Consent to Submit Immediately
Above, I mentioned that it is helpful to work with multiple agencies. However, it can also hurt you from a timing perspective. If a job opens, and you want to talk to all of your recruiters about it to get pay package details before you submit, the job could be closed by the time you try to apply.
A job may close when they get 20+ applicants, and in today’s market, that could be minutes. You don’t want to miss a job opportunity because you didn’t submit in time. In the time it takes for your recruiter to text you and ask if you want to submit to a job, the job application could be closed.
What I recommend is selecting one recruiter from your team and giving them permission to submit you immediately to any job. You can still work out parameters with them, such as the states you’re licensed in and any jobs you absolutely don’t want to be submitted for. However, giving them written consent to submit you for jobs immediately could be a key step to landing a position.
If you’re wondering why you’re only giving one recruiter permission to submit you and not all of your recruiters, it’s because you want to avoid being double submitted. This is especially true in a market like this where managers are making quick judgments about resumes. It’s best to only be submitted by one agency, to make it clear which agency you want to represent you for the job.
4. Pick Up Your Phone For An Interview
When jobs get numerous, highly-qualified applicants, it can be difficult to determine who to hire. Instead of contacting agencies and scheduling times for interviews, most managers will just call the job candidates for interviews on the fly. Sometimes, the managers will hire the first person who picks up their phone and appears competent in the interview.
With that being said, pick up your phone if you see an area code calling you from your prospective job location. If you happen to miss a call, call them back immediately and see if you can get the manager on the phone for an interview.
5. Rock Your Interview
Finally, you need to rock that interview. Make sure you convey to the hiring manager that you are the one for the job. Give them the confidence to hire you on the spot, without even calling any other candidates to interview.
If you need tips for your next interview, check out my Interview 101 course, which has also helped numerous travelers land their next position.
Please reach out if you have any questions about travel therapy here and I’ll be happy to give you my honest, candid feedback.
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