Travel Nurse Recruiter Red Flags ✍️ 5 Things To Walk Away From.

❤️ As always, the word "travel nurse" is all inclusive. I am also talking to travel therapists and techs. It's just hard to write them all out and google likes me to say travel nurse over "travel healthcare worker". I love you all the same!

When we, as Empowered Travel Nurses, 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.  

Wait, my dear friend, did you skim that one? It's important enough for me to say it again.

And say it in a big bright picture to catch your eye.

best travel nurse company

We change this industry. Together. We as travel nurses. As travel therapists. As travel techs. We have that power.

When you decide what you say yes or no to- you are doing your part.

When you decide how you walk away, by being kind and clear in your communication on what was not okay so our recruiters can learn- you are doing your part.

When you decide to reward the recruiters who are amazing by working with them - you are doing your part.

That is how we change the travel nurse industry.

The travel nurse industry rises up when we set clear and kind boundaries and when we know what to say no to.

Step One. Knowing what to say no to.

My goodness. When I started as a traveler I didn't know what to look out for. Ha, I didn't even know I was supposed to be looking out for anything!!

Ah, sweet, sweet younger Laura. The joys of being naive. I just assumed that the industry knew what it was doing. That there a fair standard that I was walking into. That my recruiter wouldn't lie and would guide me through every step.

It's not how it works, though.

Turns out there are new pop-up companies all the time trying to make a quick buck in the travel nurse industry.

They heard through the grapevine that this is a great industry for making money and here they are with no foundation or fair systems built.

New Travel Staffing Agency on the Block

New Travel Staffing Agency on the Block

Some of them hire Nomadicare to consult on what this industry even is. Sometimes the questions they ask me just make me feel like curling in a big ol' ball under my new weighted blanket, turning on the second season of Making a Murderer, and calling it a day.

"How are you pitching these travel nurses jobs already if you don't even know the tiniest basics of what we do or need!!" I scream inside.

On the outside I take a deep breath.

And instead of going into that oh-so-cozy ball, I walk them step by step on what is fair and what we need as travelers. I teach them how to show us pay and what fair overtime rates are. I tell them about communication and a recruiters role in us feeling safe and secure and that they absolutely can't blind submit us. And on and on I teach. And then I pray they listen and put it to action. And I pray we as travelers know how to spot a good company and know what to walk away from in case they don't.

But then every month new travel nurses come in to our amazing sub-group in healthcare asking "What travel nurse company is the best?" but they have no idea what that question really means. And every month a new travel nurse recruitment companies pop up that might not care to hire a consultant and are just making their mistakes ... on us. And they only learn when we learn how to clearly and kindly say no.

Boundaries are Sexy

Boundaries are Sexy

The Travel Nurse Recruiter Red Flag List

If your recruiter does any of the things this list, 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 many are still learning. Many times they learn because we leave. You are a great teacher for them when you can set boundaries, practice great communication, and walk away with grace and kindness while you do it. 

Red Flag #1: Submitting Us To Travel Assignments Without Our Explicit Approval.  

When a recruiter submits us to a job, that means:

1. Our resume and application are given to a hospital or facility.

2. We are locked into that company to represent us for that assignment.

3. That hospital or facility 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 Our Travel Nurse Recruiter Should Do:

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 show us a pay package before we get submitted to the job. We need to have an idea of pay and all the information they know about an assignment so we can make an informed decision for our career.  If they are telling you this step takes too long tell them many recruiters can do this in 5 minutes and suggest they make a pay package template to use each time where they can just pop the numbers into it.

4. We negotiate at this point with the recruiter if need be. We also give them all the days off we need for that 13 weeks and see where the gaps in information are so we can prepare a list of things to ask on the hospital 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, while companies have different jobs from each other they also could have many over lapping jobs where two of your recruiters are telling you about the same opening).

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. 

Red Flag #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 (before taxes are taken out) or net (after taxes are taken out) summary of your take home amount, you are missing some major information to help keep everyone's expectations in line.  

A full 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- Make a template, my friends! Make your days easier for yourself. Just 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.  

A Pay Breakdown Template Example: 

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. Overtime: How much will I be paid per hour after 40 hours? (I highly advocate for at least 2x the taxable rate and ideally the blended rate):

8. Extratime: (Only 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 Pay (Yes, this is something they will know at the start. At the very least, you want to know that the one time payments (travel) will go back into your 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 your extension): 

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): This is nice to know before the interview so you can see what gaps there are for you to ask or confirm during your phone call with the hospital.

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.  

Red Flag #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. Great. 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 travel nurse: Take notes! Listen close. Write down what they say. 

Hopefully, the recruiter does this as well, but we must be rockstars of our lives 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.  Can I get an Amen!

So when the call is over, email the notes to the recruiter.  

Email this:


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? 

List what you went over:  

Appreciate you, Travel Nurse" 

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. 

When your recruiter tells you they can't put it in writing.

When your recruiter tells you they can't put it in writing.

Red Flag #4: MIA/"Ghosting" 

You are a travel nurse 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 and these things we call life.

The average ones get back to you the same day.  

If you are waiting DAYS to hear back - um - what the heck are you doing, recruiters? No seriously, what are you doing? Don't you want to have a full desk?

I am always surprised when I hear this complaints from travelers who 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. host recruiter remain a mystery to me (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 travel nurse 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 talk about extensions: 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.  

Red Flag #5: Making You Feel Guilty For Working With Multiple Recruiters and 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.

yay to awesome recruiter bonding!

yay to awesome recruiter bonding!

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 travel nurses, 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. 

Also, just like different car lots have different options for cars and many of the same cars, it's the exact same with our recruiters and travel nurse jobs.

Empowered Travel Nurse Tips:

1. Talk to 2-3 recruiters from different companies. 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 ask the recruiters to break down our pay fully so we can compare pay between companies. 

Then you will know your worth for that location, during that month. (Your $$ worth that is- you are worth SO much more than $$, boo.) 

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

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

Having Empathy Even When a Recruiter Does mess up.

Friends, we are all learning.

Travel nurses, we make mistakes and are terrible to work with on accident sometimes also.

And recruiters are all in different stages of figuring this industry out. Their world has high turnover and tons of the recruiters that call you are in their first brutal year.

They only know what they know, until they know better. We are people that can help coach them to be better for our travel brother and sisters that they will interact with next.

Let's assume everyone is good at their core and we get to come in and teach each other as we learn and grow. (I learn from recruiters all the time! They are worth listening to.)

But just because you are kind does not mean you are weak and can't walk away.

You deserve a great recruiter. You really do. Don't settle.

We get to walk away when we need to but we can still say thank you and wish people well. Even when we want to secretly switch their coffee to decaf or hide their keys because they are just not a good recruiter yet and it's so inconvenient for you as the travel nurse to go through that.

Email Template: 

"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.


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. 

Warmly, Travel Nurse

You got this!

You got this!

how to become a travel nurse

Nomadicare's mission is to raise the integrity and empowerment in this industry up and up. One way Nomadicare does that is by pre-vetting recruiters for you.

If you don't have your dream team of recruiters that have your back and pay you fair, we are here to help support you. You can get your free pre-vetted recruiter matches here.


As always: is the only place in the industry to get a vetted recruiter match where the recruiters are held accountable to treating us (and paying us) kind and fair. ❤️

If you don't find a recruiter you love through Nomadicare- we will give you $100.

Let's raise the integrity of our wonderful industry up together by working with honest recruiters that have passion and hustle! #empoweredtravelers #dreammatches #Nomadicare

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