Recruiter (And Traveler) Red Flags

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When we, as Empowered Travelers, decide to only work with recruiters who are dedicated to the win/win, we are doing our part in raising the integrity of the industry as a whole.  

... So the next step is learning what the win/win and red flags are ... 

If your recruiter does any of the things stated in this guide, you can always walk away knowing that not all recruiters run their desks that way.  

Usually it's unintentional, not all recruiters are trained well and are still learning. Many times they learn because we leave. You will be a great teacher for them and you can set boundaries, practice great communication, and walk away with grace and kindness while you do it. 

Remember, when we talk about win/win, that means that travelers need to put in work on their side of the relationship as well. 

So make sure you also read on to the traveler red-flags. These are the things you should not be doing if you want a great recruiter to stick beside you!  

Recruiters get to choose to work with us also; when we are awesome to work with, we get better jobs and better recruiters along for the ride with us.


#1: Submitting us to jobs without our explicit approval.  

When a recruiter submits us to a job, that means our resume and application is given to a hospital or facility. It also means we are locked into that company to represent us for that assignment. And that hospital is going to then believe we want to work there and has all our paperwork to call us for an interview.  

If we have our paperwork in with multiple recruiters (which we should) we could get double submitted for the same position or called randomly for an interview when we are not prepared. Awkward!  

Yes, speed DOES matter when submitting our resume for an interview, it's a competitive industry and every advantage helps. But we also don't want our personal information carelessly submitted all over the place without us hearing about it first.  

What should be happening is: 

1. Our recruiter sees a job opening that fits what they know we are looking for.  

2. They contact us and try to let us know about it asap.  

3. They have a pay package template made and pop in the numbers so we have an idea of pay and all the information they know about an assignment so we can make an informed decision for our career.  

4. We negotiate at that point with the recruiter if need be. We give them all the days off we need for that 13 weeks and see where gaps in information are so we can prepare a list of things to ask on the interview and start doing our own research.  

5. We say YES SUBMIT to one (and only one) company. We tell our other recruiters that we have been submitted to xx job so they do not double submit us. (Remember, many companies share job databases). 

6. We do all of this as fast as we can! We want to get our resume in asap when we find a job that fits our desires. 

#2: Not showing us the full pay package before submitting us to a job.  

If you have a recruiter who is only giving you a gross or net weekly take home amount, you are missing some major information to help keep everyone's expectations in line.  

A pay breakdown should, at the least, have the following in it before you agree to be submitted for a position. (If they don't know something, they should write down "unknown" next to the line so you can ask in the interview or remember to follow up about that later).  

Recruiters- you should have a template that looks a lot like this so you can be ready to pop in the data when you get it! This doesn't have to take a long time, but it is GOLD in getting everyone on the same page and being a transparent recruiter for us.  

Recruiter Template: 

1. Taxable Hourly Rate: 

2. M & I Reimbursement (Non-Taxed- Weekly Rate): 

3. Housing Reimbursement (Non-Taxed- Weekly Rate): 

4. Travel Reimbursement: One-time amount and when they will pay it (ie: first paycheck or first and last?): 

5. License Reimbursement: Is there a max? Is this included?: 

6. Insurance (How much will be taken from my check each week or how much will I receive if I do not take this benefit?): 

7. Over-Time: How much will I be paid per hour after 40 hours? (I highly advocate for at least 2x the taxable rate, or you are getting served a bad deal.): 

8. Extra-Time: (For you travelers who work 36 hours- when you pick up a shift, you might have these awkward hours that are more than your contract and less than Overtime which starts at 40. So you want to know what you will be paid for hours 36-40 so it is not a surprise): 

9. Holiday Pay: (This might be dependent totally on the facility but it's good for expectations. There is no reason to find these things out while we are on assignment): 

10. On-Call Pay: 

11. Guaranteed hours (Is there a guarantee? Any stipulations?): 

12. Call off allowance (Some facilities will "guarantee" 36 hours a week but also allow for unpaid call off shifts up to xx amount per 13 weeks. Make sure you know how many shifts you could lose because this adds up!): 

13. Cancellation Policy (Will you get a zero, two week, or four week notice if your contract is cancelled? Good to know up front in case (knock on wood)): 

14. Extension (Yes this is something they will know at the start. At the very least, you want to know that the one time payments (travel, etc) will go back into you pay if you stay at an assignment. It is not so much a raise, as it is making the same money again. If they don't give you those reimbursements back in another form- they just got a raise for yourextension): 

15. Any extra details they have about the job (scrub colors, float requirements, shift (night/day),  past traveler reviews, parking fees, paid orientation, documentation software, etc).  

Why do you need to know all of this before submitting?  

Because this is how you are able to make empowered choices about where you want to pick up your life, move across the country and work for the next 3 months. It's how you are able to compare pay between companies and have reality match expectations as much as you can. And it shows you that your recruiter is not tucking away the bad pieces and only showing you the rainbows to try to get you to say yes to a job - you know what they know and that allows you to work as a team and trust each other.  

#3 Not putting promises in writing

Your recruiter is telling you details about a job or how pay works or the days off you will get over the phone. 


It's a perfect way to ask questions, be efficient with our time and not go back and forth with emails all day. 

But for you- the empowered traveler- Take notes! Listen close. Write down what they say. 

Hopefully, the recruiter does this as well, but we must be rock stars and take the initiative. 

That way, whether we have a note-taking recruiter or not, we always land on top because we take control where we can. (And roll with things when we can't) 
After all- life doesn't happen to us. We create it.  

So when the call is over, send the notes to the recruiter.  
You can say: 

"Thanks so much for that great call! I made a list of the things we covered and agreed on for reference for both of us later. Can you write me back a YES if I got all of this right? 

Then list what you went over:  

And then end it on the positives... 

Appreciate you,  

Verbal promises + bad memory + he said/she said = the ingredients for a big ol' disappointment pie. 

No one wins. 

Put it in writing. 

If they refuse to put promises in writing- red flag.  
Big ol' waving red flag. 

#4 MIA/"Ghosting" 

You are a traveler putting a whole load of trust in this one human as you pack up and head across country to your next assignment.  

Rule number one: They need to be there for you.  

The best recruiters get back to you within hours (most of the time- they are still human and have really busy jobs).  

The average ones get back to you the same day.  

If you are waiting DAYS - um - what the heck are you doing, recruiters?  

I am always surprised when I hear these complaints from travelers: when they are actively reaching out to a recruiter and can't get a hold of them. It is a recruiter's dream to not be cold calling, emailing and chasing travelers. So what the heck are they doing?? 

Well...that remains a mystery (sigh). But what is not a mystery is that they do not make the cut - See ya!You need to know that your recruiter will be there for you.  

Unless you specifically request less, this is when and how often a recruiter should be in touch with you:  

  • During active job searches: (2 - 3 weeks before start date): Daily updates. 

  • During an assignment: Weekly hellos. (Quick Texts, not calls).  

  • To ask if you want to extend your contract: 6 weeks before the end of the assignment.  

  • To start looking for the next job: 4-5 weeks before the end of each assignment.  

  • During a job cancellation: Daily updates just like a new job search. Urgency to the max during cancellations.  

#5 Making you feel guilty for working with multiple companies

Say you are buying a car... 

You may LOVE your car salesman. 

He made you a cup of coffee, you bonded over last night's "This is us" twist and you just.. well really like him. 

That does not mean you don't Google the Kelley Blue Book value of that car! Of course you do! And of course, that salesmen would be ridiculous to tell you to blindly trust him and not do your own research. 

If he made you feel bad for talking to the dealer down the road to compare prices and see what cars they have, you would roll your eyes. You like him - but you have to get the best deal you can on your car. It's way too big of a decision to make without doing a bit of research first. 

For us- our "Kelley Blue Book" is talking to two or three different companies. 

Bill rates change, regions that have the most need for your specialty change, and sometimes companies can even offer you different $$ for the same job for lots of valid reasons. 

So we must: 

1. Talk to 2-3 recruiters from different companies and ask them where the jobs are and what the pay range to expect in a specific region is at the moment. 

2. When we are serious about applying for jobs, we ask recruiter to break down our pay fully so we can compare pay between companies. 

Then you will know your worth (your $$ worth that is- you are worth SO much more than $$) 

Now you can feel empowered and confident when you get offers. You know what to expect and can confidently say yes or no to pay packages at that point. 

Recruiters who only work with you if you work exclusively with them? Bye Bye.

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Traveler Red Flags


When you, as recruiters, decide to only work with travelers who are dedicated to the win/win, you are doing your part in raising the integrity of the industry as a whole.  

I would be doing this industry a disservice if I left it just at what recruiters are doing that isn't creating a win/win. Sometimes, we as travelers can be BRUTAL to these recruiters who work so hard. 

A win/win is two-sided. The best recruiters absolutely should be walking away from travelers who are treating them poorly. And just like recruiters, many times we do not do these things intentionally. Sometimes we truly do not know better until... we know better. It's all a learning process. 

This is why I preach GRACE. Give your recruiters kindness even when they make a mistake; we're only human. Hanging up on them and blasting them on social media is cruel; they truly could be unaware. 

Alright, so... recruiters: If your traveler does any of these things you can walk away knowing there are travelers out there who do not act this way. Build your desk full of your tribe and awesome travelers who appreciate you!  

Give your hard work, hustle and time to the travelers who are living a life with integrity.  

#1: r.e.s.p.e.c.t.

Your recruiter works SO hard. Their job is no joke and many never make it past year one. 

1. Cell phone respect: If you have a recruiter who gives you their cell phone number (thank you!) that is a sign they want to be on your team and show up for you when you need them. 

If your toaster breaks in a furnished place the company provided for you, do not call your recruiter at 1 am (true story). 

Respect the work/life balance they are attempting to have. Many recruiters have gorgeous young kids, families and hobbies outside of hustling for you. They love their job... but let them love their life too. Unless it's a real emergency, try your hardest to respect their working hours. 

2. Pay Package Shopping: Are you curious or serious? 

If you are just curious about what a pay range is in an area - great. There is nothing wrong with that.

DO: Ask the recruiter to give you an example of 1 or 2 pay packages in the area and tell you how many jobs in your specialty are in that area so you can get a feel for if this is a place you want to move forward with. 

DON'T: ask them to break down every job they have if you have no intention of working with them and submitting to any jobs at this time. You don't need all the information when you are not serious. Pay packages (when a recruiter is great and gives you ALL the details and not just a gross blended number) do take some time to put together. Respect their time. 

If you have a recruiter you feel loyal to and you are just using other recruiters to find pay quotes or jobs in an area to bring back to recruiter #1 - Not okay.

Hey. Recruiter #1 - do your own hustling! Don't ask us travelers to do this for you. You would not like it if a traveler did this to you. 

If you are serious- awesome. Ask them to break down the pay fully so you can make great decisions for yourself but otherwise respect their busy days. 


#2 Always assuming you are getting "screwed over" 

Most of the recruiters you talk to are NOT malicious. They are not giggling behind your back saying "I got them good!" as they high five their recruiter friends. 

They are not rolling in "your money" and buying yachts while you work. 

You both are working your butts off in two different worlds. You are trying to understand each other and work together. 

But experiences with bad recruiters (or usually uneducated recruiters) can give us good reasons to have walls up and be skeptical about all recruiters. 

And experiences with bad travelers can give recruiters reasons to not trust us in return. 

So we have this lovely wall between us going into this relationship. 

Fair enough. But don't let that wall be so big that you think every recruiter is taking advantage of you. And don't believe there is a mystery pot of money companies can always just pull from to give you more money. 

Trust me - there is a LOT travelers don't know about what goes on behind the scenes. I'm still learning all the time. The industry shifts as laws shift and there are a lot of complex reasons companies have to do things the way they do.  

In general, we have one big 'ol pot of money we all have to share. Recruiters keep their jobs by placing travelers in a job (so they need to pay you competitively) and by earning money for their company (staying above a certain profit margin).

If you work with two or three recruiters, they will have trouble paying you way too little. By doing that and listening to a couple different pay packages you can relax a bit about being "shorted". 

Listen to your recruiter and ask questions before you assume that they are doing you wrong just because they are doing it differently than another recruiter.

Money has a lot of places it can go in our pay packages and companies have to decide how to structure their pay. 

The jargon companies use is confusing as well, because there is not a standard dictionary for the travel healthcare industry. (Extra time. Over time. Premium pay. Double time?? What does it all mean!!)

And companies have different rules they go by that the recruiter has NO control over. Each company has to get their own legal and tax advice and decide how to interpret the law - which does ultimately impact our pay.

Some recruiters are not allowed to even touch your pay package - they can only tell you about them and the account managers have all the power. Some have almost complete freedom to taylor your pay packages.

Things to think about:

- You may get a dollar less per hour because one company gives you guaranteed hours and the other doesn't.

- You may not be able to get more money on your extension because the company actually lost money on your first 13 weeks somehow - and you just have to trust them sometimes. 

- One company pays you less because they give you free medical insurance, free CEUs and send you hella gifts for nurse's week and pizza parties to your unit. Your experience is like YES! but your pay might be a little less than the DIY company.

You get to pick what you like! But it doesn't mean one is "screwing you over". 

If you are going to assume anything: assume you don't know everything. And neither does the recruiter. Both parties are continuously learning and growing. Assume the best in this human you are talking to (the recruiter) and listen. And if what they say is not what you like. Great. It's good to figure that out early on, and you can kindlytell them it's not a good fit and move on to a company that you can feel great staying with long term. 

#3 Credentials Ghost.

(Do yo' paperwork!)

Step one: Find out if the company has the jobs & the benefits you need. 

Step two: Find out if you like the recruiter for the long haul. Do they run their desk with integrity? Do they run it the way you like? Interview them! Or, even better, use Nomadicare who already interviewed them for hours! :)  

Step three: DO YO' PAPERWORK. 

Put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter for a second. Part of their job is to organize and prioritize. They have to decide where to spend all of their time when they sit down at their desk. 

If they've already spent time with you answering all your questions, explaining how they run their desk and you say yes! You liked them. You want them on your team. 

Now it's time for you to do the paperwork. 

Resume, skills checklist, credentials, references. 

You want to be the top of the recruiter's mind. It is always a good thing to have a recruiter hustling and thinking about you.

Do you know who recruiters think about the most?

They think about the travelers who show them that they're serious and really looking for a job. The way you show this to your recruiters is by doing all your paperwork once you know you want to work with them.

The industry moves fast.

When you are ready to start applying for jobs, you need to have everything in order so as soon as that job opens up you can say "yes" and the recruiter can submit you within 60 seconds.

If you are waiting to start your paperwork for when you see that dream job pop up-  most likely you will miss the opportunity because you won't have everything ready.

If you don't have everything in, guess who the recruiter is looking for jobs before you. That's right - they are looking for jobs for the travelers who already got their paperwork in. You would do the same thing. 

Give them a reason to hustle their hardest for you! 

#4 Social Media Blaster

Whew! Social media is brutal for our recruiters. 

They get blasted! 

And with the poor education in this industry, SO many times they are blasted unfairly and there is very little they can do about it. This industry is a small world and yes, companies are watching. 

Don't think for one second that being negative, rude, defensive and accusatory online does not reflect poorly on you. Oh it does! 

You might get "likes" - but at the end of it all it comes across as unprofessional to your companies. 

We are professionals. Health care professionals. Let's act like a community. Communication does not need to be a lost art here. Hiding behind your keyboard as you belittle someone else is not a great quality.

Non-verbal cues online are a real thing. Just like our facial expressions give us away in person - we pick up on cues as we type too. As always- It's not just what you say, it's how you say it.

Empowered travelers do not hurt other's reputations online as their first, second or third line of defense. 

We communicate and go up a chain of command at the company first. We private message our mentors to learn what to do. We don't go straight to one star reviews and forums.

And if we have to leave a bad review- we do this with grace and maturity-  in a way that reflects back well on us as professionals. 

Things companies might judge about YOU if you post negative story that hurts another's reputation on social media:

1. There are two sides (sometimes more) to every story. If you are attacking someone online it might be wondered... did you take any responsibility for what happened? Did you communicate and listen to try to resolve it first? Or the moment you thought something went wrong did you jump online to take it to the masses? 

2. "Wow, will he also blast me the moment there is a miscommunication?"

3. If you blasted a hospital and talked about how you are leaving that contract, they might think "I wonder if they would leave a job I placed them in so easily and mess up our company relationship with our hospitals?" 

4. "I wonder if this is how they treat their co-workers, bosses and patients on the job?"

We become a risk. And rightly so, they should proceed with caution.

I have seen certain travelers who are down right MEAN online. I would never work with them if I ran a staffing agency. Nope. I would just tell them sorry we have no jobs in that area and let another company deal with that risk. 

#5 Working with too many companies

Working with two-three companies is awesome. 

For reason I state over and over: it is important for us the have the ability to compare. 

But if I was a recruiter and I knew you were activity talking to 10 companies, basic statistics show me my time is better spent with the traveler that has time to talk to me. What traveler could communicate well with 10 companies? I can hardly call my grandma as much as I want- I'm sure not sharing all my fears, excitements and needs with 10 recruiters. It's too much to juggle. 

A 10-company traveler jumps around from company to company typically chasing that one extra dollar an hour. They will be more likely to forget to inform all the companies when they are submitted somewhere. 

Recruiters may not take the company-hoppers as seriously.

Yes - you can switch companies all you want- but having more than three might start causing diminishing returns for everyone involved. 



As I write this... I can think of 10 more points I could list on both sides. 

And then 10 more, 

There are so many things we can do that could really hurt our teamwork and relationship. 

At the end of it all though, it comes down to two main things: 

1. Be Honest. 

Tell your recruiters the truth.

Where you want to go. 

If you say yes verbally to a contract- be true to your word. 

If you got submitted to a job with someone else, let them know. 

If they are doing something that raises a red flag- talk to them about it or walk away with grace and confidence. 

You can even send them this page and tell them this is how you will show up for them and ask them how they feel about the recruiter red flags. Make sure (as fast as you can) that are in that same wave length as you. 

2. Have Empathy

Man, we are all learning. Let's just assume everyone is good at their core and we get to come in and teach each other as we learn and grow. And we get to walk away when we need to for our professional careers but we can still say thank you and wish people well. 

Communication Example: 

"Hi Recruiter, 

I'm learning a lot about this industry and completely respect how much work you put in to find me jobs. 

However, I want to be honest with you, there are a few things I am concerned about: 

1. Red Flag Reason One

2. Red Flag Reason Two

I want to share this with you because maybe these things are unintentional, but for me, they are a big deal. Maybe this will help you learn and grow as a recruiter. Or at the very least, we can find out if we really can be a good team together!

Here is a link to Nomadicare's Recruiter Red Flags if you want to learn more about the empowered traveler and recruiter movement. We have a set of standards to raise the trust and integrity between recruiters and travelers. It will also show you the style of traveler I am because I know this is all about teamwork. 


Feel free to check that out! And if you can write me back and let me know your thoughts on (reason one) and (reason two).  

I appreciate all you have done. 





Raising the integrity of this industry up one recruiter and traveler at a time. 

Travel Nurses. Travel Therapists. Travel Radiologists. 



Laura LatimerComment