If you are thinking about working in the travel nursing or travel therapy industry, you probably have noticed that there are hundreds of staffing agencies that staff travel assignments across the United States. It can get very overwhelming to try and choose an agency. So how do you find the best travel agency for you?
Personally, I do not think that there is one “best agency” out there. I think that there are many wonderful staffing agencies that offer different things and you have to find what works for you. Here are the top five things to look for when selecting an agency.
Determine what benefits you need and then find an agency that matches those needs. The thing to remember about benefits is that they are factored into your weekly pay. For example, if a company offers wonderful benefits, they may pay less weekly than a company that offers no benefits and vice versa. Benefits may include:
- How much will it cost per paycheck?
- Does it start on day one or later in the contract?
- Is there a high deductible?
- Can you keep health insurance after a contract? If so, for how long in between contracts – 14 days, 30 days?
- Is short-term or long-term disability offered? If yes, after how many days of work?
- Is there an option to opt in for a 401k or similar plan? If yes, after how many days of work? Does the company offer matching?
- Does the agency have a program in place that pairs new travelers with mentors? Is this something that you need or want?
- Does the agency offer loyalty incentives?
- How long do you have to work for the agency to receive the loyalty bonus?
- Current loyalty bonuses include: paid time off, free vacation to the Caribbean, student loan reimbursements and monetary bonuses. (To name a few).
Note: I did not include housing, licensure reimbursement or travel reimbursement as a benefit. Anything that gets paid to you to move or house you during a contract will be allocated from the overall bill rate of your contract and can vary from assignment to assignment.
I think matching with a good recruiter is actually the number one thing to look for in a staffing agency. When working with an agency, you are really primarily working with a recruiter and you want to find somebody that works for you.
Things to consider when looking for a recruiter:
- Does this person appear to be honest and knowledgeable about what you need to know?
- Can the recruiter provide references of other therapists that he/she has worked with?
- Is the recruiter available when you need to speak to them? Time zones and work schedules mean that you may need to communicate with the recruiter outside their 9-5, so are they available when you are?
- Can you communicate well or are you missing texts, emails?
- What does your gut say? Do you feel like you could have a working relationship with this person or is there something that makes you think you cannot? Trust you gut feelings in this case, they are usually correct.
Ideally we could all work for the agency that has the most jobs and the jobs that we want. However, that is hard to find and determine. The fact of the matter is that most agencies, that are at least medium sized or larger have more or less 90% of the same jobs. When speaking to an agency you can ask them if they have any direct or exclusive contracts in the area that you are looking for. Some smaller agencies may not have all of the job options that the larger ones have countrywide, but they may have more of a niche market in a geographic area. Thus, a smaller agency may have a contract in an area that a larger one does not and vice versa.
Money varies by agency and it takes some shopping around to see who is going to pay you the best for your needs. The highest pay does not always equal the best fit for you. As I mentioned earlier, if an agency has a lot of benefits to offer, that may mean that they offer less of a weekly take home pay than other agencies. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a matter of determining and finding what works for you.
For example, I may be able to work for a smaller agency with lower overhead and minimal benefits who can pay me more weekly, but they may not have access to the number of jobs that a larger agency has.
What are other people saying about this agency? Searching for reviews and recommendations about an agency can be like diving into a black hole; so user beware. Remember that people tend to post negative experiences way more than positive ones so you need to take everything that you read with a grain of salt. When you look at a review, do not only look to see if it is a 1 star or 5 star, but WHY and WHAT the reviewer had to say about the agency. You can seek reviews on agencies from places like Glassdoor and on Facebook business pages and community forums.
Finding the best travel agency for you starts with determining what you need and want from a company. There are hundreds of companies out there and plenty to offer. Determine what you need and want in an agency.
Photography/featured image is the author’s original content.