Finding the Right Travel Recruiter

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Last week we discussed the “basic basics,” answering many questions I’ve had over the years on wanting to become a travel therapist or travel tech. This week I’d like to dig a little deeper into a few points to help you make the right decisions on becoming a travel therapist or a travel technician.

Whether you’re a new traveling physical therapist or a seasoned travel ultrasound tech, the advice is the same.


Hands down, this is the hardest part of the game. Right now there are over 20,000 staffing companies in the US and over 39,000 offices. Last I heard almost two-thirds of them are in healthcare. Simply put, their are many recruiters wanting your attention. Let me first say the majority of recruiters out there are excellent human beings that want to help make a difference in your life. They are as passionate about what they do as you are about what you do. Unfortunately, there are more than a few that are more interested in their success than yours.

I remember about a year ago a Speech Language Pathologist called me; she was working with one other agency and myself. The conversation was as follows:


SLP: Joel, I have a question, can you help me?

ME: Sure, what’s going on?

SLP: I’m working with this other recruiter and I feel embarrassed asking you this, but..

ME: It’s 100% OK, how can I help you?

SLP: Well, this other agency says I need to interview first before they can tell me what the job pays. They said, they don’t get the pay information until after I interview.

ME: What do you mean? If they have the job, they know what it pays.


So what do you do then to find a good recruiter? First, you want to speak to other travelers. This is one of the easiest things to start with for perspective. Keep in mind like anything else it’s an opinion. Therefore, if in speaking to someone they start to sound like they have an axe to grind, remember that nothing is ever one-sided 100%. Make sure to try to talk to multiple people about different and same recruiters. Again, you are looking for perspective.

More times than not you are going to hear two very distinct perspectives on having a traveling career and working with a travel recruiter.

I had an awesome career traveling, my recruiter was awesome!

I had a terrible time traveling, my recruiter was horrible!

The correlation is a simple as that. Either their recruiter was great or their recruiter was like traveling through the seven levels of hell.

This is the beginning of the process because you want perspective and possibly a starting point. Additionally, when discussing recruiters, you want to talk about the companies they work for also. After all, the company pays you, not the recruiter. Saying that, it’s my opinion if you have to make a decision to choose between a great company and a great recruiter, go with the great recruiter. The company pays you but the recruiter works for you. Now, there may come a time you leave the company because you may get tired of how their company runs or you may feel the deficiencies of the company handcuff your recruiter. Until then let the recruiter give you all he/she can give you until that time.


Another avenue is online research. There are sites, Facebook groups, forums, etc. all dedicated to how well a recruiter works with others and how successful they are. Some of these sites are invaluable to finding out information quickly.

Don’t fall in love with one recruiter…unless it’s earned

I cannot begin to tell you how many times speaking with a traveler I hear, “Yes, I am working with just one recruiter,” and/or “I don’t want to fill out more paperwork.”

My response is always the same:

“Have they found you any work?”


The relationship with a recruiter should be a two-way street that is earned. Do not give a recruiter all of your trust if they aren’t finding you work or not helping you meet your goals. Besides, earning trust takes 3 to 4 contracts, not 1. If your recruiter has been finding you work and making you very happy, skip this section and move on to the next one (lol).

Personally, I work with many travelers that only work with me. Now, before you roll your eyes, understand one very important thing: I earned that.

I have never asked someone to only work with me. Matter of fact, I always suggest to work with others. If you find that you are always accepting jobs from the same recruiter all the time and he/she is keeping you busy and helping you reach your goals, working with one is fine. When the same travelers work with you for years (plural), odds are you are their only recruiter on speed dial.

The second response has always concerned me. If you take your career as seriously as I take mine; filling out more paperwork, while a huge pain, is a necessity in order to get you that contract or reach that goal you are looking for. When someone says that to me, “I don’t want to fill out more paperwork,” that traveler is saying to me, “I really don’t want to work.”

Your career is much more important that that.


There really is no reason to work with more than 2, possibly 3 travel recruiters. I agree 100% that some may have jobs the other recruiters do not have -that’s the main reason for working with more than one.  However, when you work with more than two or three, a number of things can and usually will happen.

1) You are going to find that working with that many recruiters will seem like a part time job. Remember, you asked them to help you, but now all of them are calling you to help you constantly.

2) Working with too many gets around. Recruiters can be a tight bunch of individuals. If they try to place you a couple times and every time it’s “Sorry, another recruiter found me a job” they are going to put their time into someone that is going to give them time. Remember, they have a job too.

I had a CT tech a few months ago that emailed ALL the recruiters she works with asking about jobs and may have forgotten to BCC the group. There were literally 30 or so different companies on that email. Most recruiters did not take that well. Some recruiters asked to be taken off the list and not be contacted any longer; others made jokes.  She stood up for herself, saying she is not interested in loyalty, she is only interested in top pay. Of course that is her prerogative. However I guarantee that her recruiter circle just got much smaller and what she failed to realize is that most recruiters will work harder to get pay not even listed for their traveler out of loyalty.


Great way to Segway into my final piece. In order to achieve your goals you must work together -It’s a give and take relationship. The recruiter needs to fill their potions and the PT,OT,SLP, Ultrasound / Image Techs (take your pick lol) needs a job. But how really is it a two street? Isn’t it more one-sided?

On the surface it looks very one-sided. Of course that makes sense, why do you think all of a sudden you are inundated with calls from recruiters?

However, the truth has always been that success always works from teamwork. Go back to the travelers you spoke with to get perspective on recruiters. Talk to the negative ones again but this time ask them how many different recruiters they worked with. You will find a lot of the misery comes from working with a multitude of recruiters and a “take and not give” attitude.

On the recruiter side what’s most important is honesty, trust and availability. Honesty and trust go hand in hand. Traveling is an exciting time for a person. However as exciting it is it’s also scary. I’m not talking about teenager-slasher-flick scary. I’m talking about the unknown. You are putting your trust in a recruiter that is moving you from a familiar area (home) to an unfamiliar area. If there is anyone you should be able to trust, it had better be your recruiter. This is the main point where most any relationship fails or flourishes.

Availability is a big one too. Being available when they need you. There are two examples I want to give regarding availability.

When I speak to travelers, I tell them, “ I am available any time, here is my cell number, you can call me any time.”


“But if you call me at 3am and you wake up my daughter, you’re keeping her!”

I get a chuckle and then explain I really am available at 3am if it’s an emergency.

Truly, the difference in a good recruiter and a bad recruiter can be availability. I cannot begin to tell you how many travelers tell me stories of an issue, or something happened at the facility and they need their recruiter and the recruiter is nowhere to be found.

It’s easy to be a great recruiter when everything works out, but the truly great ones are not afraid of adversity, truly care about your situation and when they say they are there for you, they are.

In closing, it doesn’t matter if you are looking for a travel physical therapy job or a travel ultrasound tech job or everything in between. Your recruiter will make the largest impact on your success or failures. Choose wisely.


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