It’s not uncommon for Travel nurses to discuss a potential Travel Nursing job with a recruiter, complete the agency’s paperwork, and then find out the the job is no longer open. This scenario happens often enough that it leaves many travel nurses wondering if agencies advertise fake jobs just to get travel nurses to complete the paperwork.
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The simple answer is, yes they do. However, this practice is extremely rare. In fact, it’s more often true that the job is legit, but it closes before the agency is able to submit the nurse for consideration. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the factors at play and provide some recommendations to help you navigate the system successfully.
Travel Nursing Jobs can Fill Fast!!
It’s important to understand the nature of the travel nursing job market in order to understand how jobs close before the agency can submit you even when you complete the paperwork immediately. The most important factor to consider is that travel nursing jobs can fill fast. They certainly fill much faster than permanent jobs.
Factors that Affect Time to Fill
Of course, not every travel nursing job fills fast. Moreover, the average time to fill travel nursing jobs in general varies with certain market conditions. The following factors influence the time to fill travel nursing jobs.
Typically, hospitals are intent on filling travel nursing jobs quickly. The hospital’s need for a traveler is often urgent. Moreover, hospitals know it takes time to onboard a new traveler. Therefore, hospitals know they stand a better chance of successfully onboarding the nurse on schedule if they wrap things up sooner than later.
We all know that certain locations are more desirable than others. Therefore, jobs in places like Hawaii and San Diego fill faster because more travel nurses are interested in going to these locations.
Similarly, travel nursing jobs in compact states might fill faster than non-compact states because more nurses are able to qualify by virtue of their compact license.
We all agree that higher pay is better than lower pay. Therefore, jobs that pay more tend to fill faster because they appeal to more candidates.
Specialty and Shift
Candidates are more scarce for some specialties and shifts than others. For example, jobs for Med-Surg nurses working day shifts tend to fill faster than jobs for CVICU nurses working nights.
Tight or Slack Job Market
A tight travel nursing job market is when there are more jobs than candidates. A slack travel nursing job market is when there are more candidates than jobs.
When the travel nursing job market is tight, the time to fill increases. When it is slack, the time to fill decreases.
Travel Nursing Agency Competition
It’s important to remember that hospitals almost always work with multiple agencies to fill travel nursing jobs. Therefore, the agency you apply with isn’t the only agency trying to fill that job.
The proliferation of Vendor Management Systems means that hospitals can easily work with 50 to 300+ agencies. Even when the hospital has an exclusive contract with one agency, it’s still highly competitive. This is because only the largest agencies typically land exclusive contracts and these agencies have a lot of recruiters. Moreover, when the exclusive agency isn’t able to fill the job within a specified period of time, then the job is released to all the sub-vendors. This means the job opens to many more agencies.
Submission Ready Profiles
Now, you might be thinking that everyone needs to apply for the job just like you do. Therefore, why does any of this matter if everyone has to go through the same process?
Well, tons of travel nurses already have a submission profile ready to go with multiple agencies. Therefore, those agencies could submit these travel nurses immediately upon receiving the travelers’ consent.
As a result, it’s not uncommon to see hospitals close a job to new submissions within an hour of opening it. And even when they do not quickly close the job to new submissions, chances are very strong that the hospital will receive several submissions and begin to vet candidates within a day or two of opening the assignment.
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It Takes Time to Prepare a Travel Nursing Submission Profile
You might be wondering how long it could possibly take for an agency to get a travel nurse’s submission profile ready for them to submit. After all, if you fill out the application and skills checklists, then shouldn’t everything be ready to go? Unfortunately, this is not the case.
First, the agency must review the documentation to ensure it includes all the details the hospital requires. This step will almost always require the recruiter to research details and add them to the profile.
For example, some hospitals require that profiles include the number of hospital beds and unit beds for each job in the candidate’s work history. It’s quite rare for candidates to include these details on their own. Therefore, the recruiter needs to complete these and similar steps.
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Second, the agency must check references. References are rarely available immediately. It can sometimes take several days to establish contact with a reference.
Third, the agency may have to gather some preliminary paperwork in addition to the standard submission profile. The hospital might require submission profiles to be accompanied by a license verification and copies of certifications. The hospital may also require a background check.
All of these steps and others add time to the process. As a result, it can sometimes take the agency up to a week or longer to get a submission profile ready to go.
The Disconnect Between Perception and Reality
What we’ve just described are two fundamental disconnects between perceptions of the travel nursing job market and the realities of the market. First, there is a tendency to perceive the jobs as remaining open for longer periods than they are actually open. Second, there is a tendency to believe that a submission profile takes much less time to complete than it actually does. With these perceptions at the core, it’s easy for travel nurses to rely on strategies that aren’t well suited for landing their most desired assignments and maintaining continuous employment.
For example, many travel nurses utilize a strategy whereby they will not complete an agency’s paperwork until the agency contacts them with the specifics of an ideal job. This is a shaky strategy at best.
As we’ve just described, there is a very strong chance that the job fills before the agency has the submission profile ready. As a result, you can get caught in a loop of finding great jobs, completing paperwork, and missing out on the job because it fills before the agency can submit you.
You may also rely on responding to job advertisements as a strategy for landing your ideal assignments. Here again, you may be working from behind.
However, if you know how to navigate the system and make use of best-in-class resources, then you can land the jobs you want at the pay you want.
Bogus Travel Nursing Assignments
First, you need to know what to watch out for when it comes to fake jobs. Again, fake jobs are very rare these days, but it’s still important for you to know about them.
There are essentially two types of fake job advertisements. First, companies may post job advertisements for assignments that they routinely have available but which may not be available at the given moment. Similarly, they may post job advertisements for jobs that they’ve heard maybe opening soon but aren’t actually open at the moment.
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Companies do this because they understand the realities of the travel nursing job market. They know that they stand a far better chance of landing job offers if they have profiles ready to go when the jobs actually open. So they cast signals to find interested candidates.
When they find candidates who are interested, they provide the candidates with all the details and get them to complete the paperwork. They do this with the firm belief that the job will indeed be open at some point in the near future if it isn’t already open by the time the agency has the profile ready.
These job advertisements actually have some use for travel nurses. Specifically, these job postings typically verify that the agency advertising the job has contracts available in the city for which they are placing the advertisement. This is a clue that can help you find the agencies capable of landing you assignments in your desired locations.
Bait and Switch
The second type of bogus job advertisement is a bit more underhanded, but also much less common. It’s commonly referred to as a “bait-and-switch”.
In this scenario, the recruiter will tell the nurse that they have exactly what the nurse is looking for even though they don’t. However, this isn’t necessarily an “advertisement” because this scenario typically happens during telephone conversations. Why would the recruiter do this? Again, to get the nurse to complete the paperwork.
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Once the nurse completes the paperwork and the recruiter completes the profile, the recruiter will start pitching jobs that they actually have available. You might be thinking this is a waste of the recruiter’s time. However, it does work.
First, it’s very common for a travelers to express adamant interest in Hawaii or San Diego, but then take an assignment in El Paso or Gnome, Alaska. We are not justifying bait-and-switch tactics here. However, they do work nonetheless.
Again, agencies certainly don’t advocate this approach, but some recruiters employ it. However, we find that it is extremely rare these days.
How Can Travel Nurses Land the Jobs They Want?
So, how can travel nurses use job postings effectively? First, be mindful of the job posting date no matter where you’re looking, whether it’s on an agency’s own job board, or big job boards like Monster, Career Builder or Indeed. The older the job, the less likely it is to still be available.
Second, be mindful of where the job is posted. Job boards that focus on the travel nursing industry, like BluePipes, are typically the best place to find fresh, open jobs. That’s because we are importing the jobs directly from agencies’ applicant tracking systems.
This type of job management and importing is the best way to ensure that all job postings are up to date. It’s also the best way to ensure that you’re seeing all the jobs that agencies have available at any given time. As a result, you’ll see that we have thousands of jobs posted for each company.
It’s also fair to say that the jobs recruiters post on social media sites like Facebook’s travel nursing groups are legit and fresh. Posting in those groups is quick, easy and free. Moreover, the postings have an inherently low shelf-life due to the realities of Facebook’s news feed.
Third, use job postings as an indication of the jobs and locations a particular agency is capable of landing for you. This will help you find agencies that work in your desired locations.
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Own Your Own Submission Profile
Lastly, it’s best to have a strategy to overcome the asymmetries inherent in the travel nursing job market. Basically, you want your submission profile to be submitted as quickly as possible for open assignments that you’re interested in. One common strategy is to find a group of agencies, maybe 3-4 different agencies, that can serve your needs. We’ve outlined that strategy here and here.
This is a good strategy but it does limit your potential. Ideally, you should have a way to quickly and conveniently land jobs with any company. This would maximize your exposure to the job market and provide you with increased negotiating leverage in order to get higher pay. The problem with this strategy is that it would be impossible to complete and maintain submission profiles for every agency.
BluePipes solves that problem by allowing members to own their own submission profile. The BluePipes profile builder can be rendered as a resume and a full job application. BluePipes also provides members with free access to over 100 comprehensive nursing and allied skills checklists which can easily be packaged with a member’s resume and application to constitute a beautiful submission profile better than what most agencies produce with their own internal systems. With a BluePipes submission profile, travel nurses will fill out far less paperwork and be ready to go immediately when the ideal assignment pops up. At the same time, agencies will get the documents they need quicker.
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