One of the many perks of being a travel nurse is having the flexibility to be off during the holidays to facilitate a better work/life balance. After the new year, the market is typically flooded with travelers looking for January assignments after taking off for the holidays. Here are some tips for getting started as a travel nurse and securing a contract amidst the competition.
- Schedule a complimentary session with Brandy, your fellow Travel Nurse Mentor, to discuss your goals and map out a plan. Time is of the essence when it comes to January start dates as a travel nurse!
- Make a list of a couple of companies and recruiters you want to work with to build a travel nurse profile. My blog covers how to find the right travel nurse agency and recruiter for you, but I also have great recommendations that I’m willing to share if you want to chat.
- Have your travel nurse profile ready to go! Remember, these jobs fill quickly, so ensure your resume, licenses, certifications, references, and health records are easily accessible. You’ll also need a completed skills checklist, so you can be submitted ASAP when a job opens. *Mentor Pro Tip: If you know which state you want to visit, make sure you have the license for it in hand. Managers will likely move on to the next candidate if you still need an active license for that state.
- Flexibility is key! If you’re flexible, you can secure work faster. Nurses with limited experience will be affected the most by the new year rush, so ensure you have a minimum of 1-2 years in your current specialty. Highly desired jobs will have 8+ submissions, and multiple candidates from the same company will likely be submitted to the same job. Being open to less desirable locations, like Northern states in the winter, may give you more leverage.
- Communication is essential. Make sure your recruiter understands your goals and deal breakers. If things change at any point, notify your recruiter quickly. Also, be ready to answer a phone call from the hiring manager at any time for your interview (and consider they might be in a different time zone). If you miss the call, the nurse manager may move on to the next applicant.
- Stay put! If you’re happy with your current assignment, ask to extend it at least through the end of January. Hiring managers and other decision-makers often play catch-up after being off for the holidays, so extending your assignment could be easier for them than interviewing and hiring a new candidate.
- Hospital decision-makers playing catch up after the holidays can also delay opening temporary positions and filling them. Budgets for the new year often come in late January, so more temporary positions may open after funds are approved.
- Be financially prepared! Be ready to be out of work for a few weeks (possibly more if you’re picky about where you want to go). If you’re leaving a staff job, I recommend not giving your required notice until you have secured your next gig.
The biggest mistake you can make as a travel nurse in the new year is to hit “snooze” and procrastinate on getting an assignment secured for January. The new year seems so far away when in reality, it will be here before we know it.