COVID-19 has dramatically impacted travel nursing jobs. Instead of being able to give your recruiter a call a few weeks out and start your next assignment without many setbacks, many travel nurses are finding themselves stuck. Maybe your specialty isn’t as available as it typically has been. Or you’re used to making more than current jobs are paying. Maybe you just can’t seem to get anywhere at all in landing a job. Regardless of the reasons for your struggle, you’re not alone. So to help you navigate this new normal, here are seven tips that will make it easier to land your next travel contract.
1. Be flexible
No, not the kind where you can touch your hands to your toes without bending your knees — real, open, and true-blue flexibility when it comes to your next contract. Whether it’s flexing a new muscle you haven’t had to flex as a traveler or trusting in something that initially feels uncomfortable and new, be open to the change in these times. Although flexibility is a great trait for travel nurses in general, now more than ever, your flexibility is what will land you your next job. Start with asking your recruiter about all possibilities, even the C players and things that would seem like a final option and allow them to tell you about positions you wouldn’t typically listen to. If you can, allow submissions for shifts you wouldn’t typically entertain, and maybe even pay that is outside of the limitations you set for yourself. Being flexible is a huge key to landing your next contract in a market where landing contracts isn’t easy to do. Remember this: it is not forever, it is just for now.
2. Be open to new locations
Although going to Alaska and Hawaii is a dream we all have — and a very real possibility within travel nursing — having the right perspective on location during this time is huge! Whether it’s a state you never thought about going to, or just staying close to home for a 13-week contract, open your mind to new ideas of where these next few months may be spent. As a traveler, it most often works out that you’ll end up right where you want to be, but in these next few months be more open on where you will go. It will only help you in the long run and will assure you are able to lock a contract instead of spinning your wheels where jobs are simply not available.
3. Don’t get stuck on length of contract
It is a trend we have seen with travel nursing jobs in the past few months as COVID-19 has reared its head. A lot of contracts are different lengths than you may be used to right now. Again, be flexible and remind yourself that you’re not used to this, but the hospitals’ needs are changing and therefore the contracts are too. Requests are possible and some jobs do come along with different lengths, but in general, be open to the possibility that things may be a little off right now. Hospitals are unsure of their needs past a week or two out, so although they may hope you can stay for 13 weeks, take a “hope for the best, but plan for the worst” attitude as much as you can. Have open and honest conversations with your recruiter about how census has been at the facilities that you are looking into, and know that right now, taking the work as it comes is a good mindset to have.
4. Extend if possible
If and when you can, EXTEND your current contract! Extensions are a saving grace in these times. If you love where you are on assignment now — or even if you could see yourself being able to do another few weeks there — tell your recruiter and your nurse managers so an extension can be considered. Think about it, they already have the spot reserved for you, they know you, and you know the ropes after three months of being there. Easy peasy!
5. Take advantage of the licensing changes
This is a big one! A lot of the COVID-19 travel nursing jobs and hot spots have allowed for “emergency” or “crisis” licenses. Some dates on these are being extended every few weeks, like in New York. However, some are ending or are not allowing them any longer. Keep up to date on the states with emergency declarations and use this as a guide to consider assignments where you may not have worked before. It may be easier now because they have a quick temporary license you can get. This opens the playing field for more job choices when there aren’t as many to choose from. It also gives you a competitive advantage to be able to work as a travel nurse in multiple states.
6. Be available when you say you are
Your availability to interview is huge! Hospitals are calling very few candidates and they are calling quick. With a pandemic attacking their unit floors, they are stepping away to interview candidates during their lunches and quick 10-minute breaks, so being able to take the call is critical. When your recruiter asks for your interview availability, make sure to think through your schedule and only give times that you are 100% able to take a call. Too many interview calls are missed. Then when the traveler tries to call back, it is a long game of phone tag that sometimes results in the nurse manager moving onto the next candidate so they can fill their needs on the unit.
7. Trust your recruiter
Build on your recruiter relationship. They are the ones looking for your next job every single day, and the better they know you and your needs, the more they will understand what you are willing to consider and what you won’t. This trust will allow them to submit you to the places you have talked about and be on top of sending you good options for your current situation. In these crazy times, knowing you can lean on your recruiter and have them as a guide when you are on assignment will make your life so much easier. They are your very best advocate and your key to locking great assignments.
Although finding a travel nursing job in the COVID-19 market can be tricky and even feel defeating at times, you can secure new assignments with the right help and a positive attitude. Be patient and know that the job market for travelers is slowly but surely getting back to normal. Keep sharpening your profile and never close your mind to what could be out there for you. You are a hero, and your hard work in this profession does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all you do and happy hunting!