What questions should I ask my recruiter?





The recruiter you have is the person who will either have your back on an assignment 1,000 miles from home or leave you hanging. 

They are the person who will either give you fair pay when you extend on an assignment or keep the higher profit margin for their company. 

They will either hustle and submit you with urgency to jobs that you want or you will be one of the last to hear about opportunities while they still learning to have an organized workflow. 

They will either blind submit you to a job and make you feel bad for working with more than one company or they will feel like a friend and have your best interests at heart. 

They will either walk you through pay and tax homes or they will be a human job board. 

One is better than than the other! And I know which I would rather have on my team. 

Nomadicare interviews recruiters to find the ones who really support you on your journey! 

It is FREE for you to use Nomadicare and saves you tons of time. Make sure the recruiter you are talking to is working with efficiency and integrity! And by all means, do your own interviews!

Who we, as travelers, decide to work with is how we vote for what practices we want to stay in this industry. Our "no" is very powerful!

Let's raise the standard of this industry up, starting with the recruiters we work with. 


Step one

Do they have what you need? 



As travelers, the more open-minded and flexible we can be on the location we go to, the better pay and opportunities we will have. 

That being said, sometimes we only want to go to a certain location.

Either way, before we even start this relationship with our recruiter, we need to know that the company has jobs in our specialty and the location we want. 

Ask them directly:

How many jobs do you have in xxx location for my specialty.

Or, if you are more flexible, ask them where the most jobs are or where the best paying jobs are at the moment (it can change month to month). 



Did you know when many recruitment companies start out, they only have VMS jobs? This means up to 100% of their jobs are duplicates and other companies have them as well.

Other companies have direct contracts, which are unique to them. However, it's getting harder and harder to get these types of contracts as recruitment companies.

And many companies have "sister companies". This means they share the same parent company (for example AMN is a huge company that has many, many companies under their umbrella). Acquisitions of companies happen all the time too making this more and more common.

If you work with two sister companies you are wasting your time! They have the same jobs and same benefits, they just use different branding.

Our goal is to have 2-3 different companies that actually have unique jobs working with us.

So when finding your next company, ask them what percentage of their jobs come from a VMS vs direct contracts.

There are also lots of different VMS/MSP systems, so it's possible to work with two different companies that use different VMS systems.

If they are a company that has direct contracts, ask them what location/region they have the most direct contracts in.

Having a direct contract is a really big deal for agencies and for us. It means when we get submitted, we will be top of that resume stack! And we get to use the trust that the company has already built with that hospital to help us get leverage in getting the position.

And of course, make sure to ask them who their sister and parent companies are!



The main benefits that can differ from company to company are:

1. If they have day one medical insurance or if you have to wait 30 days or more for their insurance to kick in. 

2. If they deduct the cost of health insurance regardless of whether you have your own insurance or not (ie: if you have your own insurance, will you make more money than those who take their insurance benefit? For more on this, see our post on taking the company insurance here.)

3. If you do want to opt into their health insurance options- how much will that cost you each week? (average in the industry is between $45 - $75) 

4. 401k options: And specifically when you can start contributing and when/if they will match that at any time. 

5. If you are taking company housing, ask if they have a dedicated housing department or if it is just the recruiter playing that role.  (Fun fact: Around 90% of travelers find their own housing!) 

6. CEUs: Some companies partner with online CEU companies and give you unlimited access while you are with them. 

7. Clinical Mentorships/Liaisons. If you have a clinical question, they link you with someone who understands the ethical and clinical side to travel. 

8. If they accept written references or if they have to call each reference. 

9. If you will be with one recruiter throughout your journey with the company or if you get shuffled around between each assignment (some companies have location dependent recruiters). 


Step Two

Does the recruiter run their desk well & with integrity?  



(AKA- Do you have time for me and do you know what you are doing?)

If they have less than 3: They are most likely in their first 6 months of recruiting. That first year in a recruiter's life is hard and takes a lot of hustle- so be kind. But pay a lot of attention to their answers to these questions to make sure they know what the heck they are doing. All recruiters make rookie mistakes, but they don't have to be on you :) 

If they have more than 25: They are rocking what is a pretty full desk in most companies (some crazy companies have recruiters working over 50 travelers at once! But 25 is an average company's "full desk" status. So if they say this pay extra attention to how quick they get back to your calls and emails.

When a recruiter has a full desk there are a few things it could mean: 

1. Sometimes a recruiter loses their hustle and passion when their desk gets full.  

2. They are just rockstars. Really. They could have figured out a system and flow to take care of everyone and not let the balls drop. 

3. Or they are dropping balls like whoa. Many times the really good recruiters get promoted to leadership and training positions- and when this happens they have to re-learn how to balance everything again. 

Just watch the time it takes them to respond to your emails and texts early on in the relationship. A few hours tops (during business hours) should be your standard.

A few days?? Oh my goodness- walk away from that.  



You want to see your full pay break down as soon as you are interested in a job. Being on the same page about everything up front is SUCH a win/win.

The biggest frustrations come from bad expectations. So when a recruiter lays it all out for you and shows you what they know- you are able to make the best decisions for your career.

When: Before you say "yes" to submitting your resume to a job, unless you tell them to blind submit you. 

And how they show it to you matters too.

A full pay breakdown should be clear, easy to understand and not withhold any details.

These are things I like to see (at the least):

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? (I highly advocate for at least 2x the taxable rate or you are getting served a bad deal)

8. ExtraTime: 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: If the case your contract is cancelled, will you get a zero, two week, or four week notice? Good to know up front in case of that (knock on wood) worst case scenario.

14. Extension: Yes, this is something they will know at the start. At the very least, I want to know that the one-time payments (travel, license, etc) will go back into my pay if I 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.

This is important because remember that all of this is part of our pay and part of comparing jobs with each other when we are trying to decide.

I will say one more important thing ...


It does matter.

If a recruiter can get you a pay breakdown that is simple and great and complete like above...


Then make your decision FAST so they can get you submitted and you can get your resume on the top of that stack to try to get an interview!



Correct answer: 10 out of 10!

We want recruiters who know how to hustle, organize and rock their desk like a pro. 

That is one of the trickiest parts of being a recruiter- there are SO many moving pieces. 

But, we want to work with the guys who have learned to manage those pieces gracefully. 

Ask how often you will hear from them (once a week while on a contract is a good rule of thumb.) 

How often will you hear from them if you are actively in ASAP job search mode (Daily please!) 

How fast will you call back? (2 hours max on a normal day). 

I want a recruiter who will show up for me. 



When is the right time to talk about expectations? 

At the start!

Ask them those "controversial" questions (kindly) at the start. They will save you lots of trouble later. 

Two of my favorite questions to get real clear about at the start are: 

- Are you okay with me working with more than one recruiter in between each assignment as long as I openly communicate with you both? (The energy they use when they answer this sometimes says just as much as their answer. Is there passive guilt in the answer or is it a "of course you should!" answer? 

- Would you ever submit me to any job without my explicit approval? (Better give me an enthusiastic NO! NEVER!)



And no, this has surprisingly little to do with the amount of time they have been working as a recruiter. 

I've done interviews with recruiters of 11 years who cannot, for the life of them, explain the very basics of a tax home (just in case you are unclear on tax homes yourself, we made an awesome post here!) 

Or who can't understand why we should get travel money back into our extensions. 

Tax homes are a great place to start when determining if your recruiter is proactive and an expert in travel healthcare or more like a friendly job board.

Ask them what happens to a traveler if they don't have a tax home (Do they even know why this is important and the worst case scenario if you don't?)

And ask them what actions you need to take in order to truly have a tax home. 

Sure, they can say "I'm not a CPA" but they should have a baseline of knowledge to share with you and should be able to guide you to a place that can tell you more. (www.traveltax.com/traveler.html is a great FAQ starting place or the www.bluepipes.com blog). 

Also ask them: what they do to help you stand out if you are being submitted to a VMS or MSP (VMS and MSP is where lots of different companies will all be sending candidates at once). I want to know how they are working to make me look extra-awesome in this competitive market! 



Just ask yourself simply:

1. Do I like them? 

2. Do I trust them? 

3. Do I think they will be there for me through these ups and downs of travel? 

4. Do I feel comfortable and listened to? 

5. Do they feel creative, kind, and confident? 

Is your answer YES?

Yay! Time to bring them into your inner circle. 

Interviewing like this does take more work on the front end. Thank the recruiter for their time in this- even if they did not pass.  

A recruiter's day is SO busy and their hours are usually way more than 40 a week. 

Your life is also so busy! 

So just remember to be grateful for recruiters who will patiently and kindly take the time to answer all these questions before they have any clue if they are going to be on your team!

A good recruiter has to learn what to spend a lot of time on so they can be extra efficient and great for the travelers who are working for them. 

All this just to remember to be nice and say thank you and let them know your intention. You could say at the start "I want to make sure we are a great fit, if we are, I will be sending my resume and paperwork your way to add you to my team!"

Then do that! If they pass- send over your paperwork and get yourself set up to have this new great recruiter be out there job searching and working with you! 


Don't want to take the time to ask every recruiter all these questions? 

I don't blame you! It takes us at Nomadicare two hours per recruiter to get them vetted and interviewed. 

But that is good news for you! 

We do the work for you and save you a ton of time. We are experts in this- so we can really read those non-verbal cues and know what we are listening for between the lines to make sure only the best pass this test to get matched with you!

We only work with recruiters who are running their desks organized, honestly and kindly. 

And we follow up with you to make sure they keep it that way and that they are fully here for you. 

We would be honored to help you find your perfect recruiter match so you can go live your dream! 



Laura LatimerComment