Regardless of which state or facility you decide to work in, it’s important to understand the travel assignment process from submitting your application to deploying on and completing an assignment.
BlueForce submits candidates where they hope to be placed by utilizing what is called a “shell profile”. A shell profile is comprised of your resume and completed skills checklist. These documents will likely determine whether or not you receive an initial phone screen.
It’s important to remember that hiring manager(s) have never met the travelers they’re going to hire and must make a decision based on the criteria we provide them. Your shell profile gives a comprehensive snapshot of your skill set, work history, certifications and more. Our goal is to leave no doubt in the hiring manager’s mind that you are the right candidate for the assignment.
It is industry standard to submit 3 file components for the client to review: a resume, skills checklist, as well as references. While submission requirements differ from client to client, if you have these three items, you stand a better chance of getting that initial phone screen.
Make sure your resume is accurate and up to date! One of the most common reasons a traveler doesn’t receive a phone screen is because his or her resume is either out of date or incomplete. Your resume should include:
- Licenses and certifications, and the dates that they expire: this list can be tedious to put together, but it could be the difference between getting hired or not. A hiring manager will be extremely disappointed if they interview you only to find out your licenses or certifications are incomplete or expired.
- A detailed work history that includes the specific roles you had at previous jobs: many Travel Nurses use “Float Nurse” or just “RN” as a description for their previous jobs, but that’s not what an employer wants to see. Don’t assume an employer knows what you did at a previous facility, just because this job is similar. Include specific details about your job duties and unit worked in previous positions.
- An explanation of any gaps between assignments: Gaps in employment are common in the travel nursing field. You might take time off in between assignments to spend time with family or attend to other needs. Hiring managers know healthcare travelers have employment gaps, but they want an explanation.
In addition, don’t use “to present” in your timeline. Always use the current month and year as the end date for your positions. Be sure to also list the positions on your resume in reverse chronological order, with the most recent position at the top. With the number of resumes interviewers have to wade through every day, they won’t know what “to present” means. Don’t leave a potential employer wondering about the status of your employment.
The skills checklist is a self-assessment of your skill set and will help you get an interview at any facility. Skills checklists let hiring managers know you’re able to perform the skills their assignment requires, and they’re specific to the types of assignments you’re searching for. It’s important to be honest and diligent when filling this out. Ranking yourself as “Highly Skilled” for every single item on the list can be a detractor. We all want to be perfect at everything we do, but that’s usually not the case.
References are a requirement to get assignments at many facilities. If you can’t find former peers and supervisors who would recommend you, hiring managers aren’t likely to take a chance on you. References should be from a professional peer or higher. The best people to approach are the Charge Nurse, Nurse Manager or CNO from your most recent assignment. References go a long way!
Once an offer is made and the traveler accepts, the next steps to address are compliance and logistics. Based on how much time there is between an offer and a start date, this timeframe can be hectic. As a traveler, it’s important that you maintain your “digital profile” so you aren’t scrambling to locate all your required documentation at the last minute. Here is a list of items normally required to be considered 100% compliant:
- Skills checklist
- Competency exams
- Physical exam
- TB test or chest x-ray
- Proof of immunizations: MMR, varicella, hep B and Tdap
- Drug screen
- Background check
While the health documentation required can vary between clients, it’s smart to maintain every health document possible for your records. Some items, like the TB test and physical exam, expire annually. Remember to take your documents with you when you travel.
While on assignment, it’s important to gauge your comfort level quickly and think about whether you would like to consider an extension or new assignment.
Patient care is always top priority, but you also need to be aware of when your contract is expiring. If you’re not interested in extending your contract, let your recruiter know at least a month before your contract expires. This will give you adequate time to consider every possible assignment for your next adventure.
While on assignment, be sure to get copies of your performance evaluations! These are invaluable, and you will want a copy to your digital profile.