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How does the travel nurse submittal process work? - Atlas All Access 111

So you want to be a travel nurse? But there's just one problem: you have 82 questions about how the process works!

Relax. Our team has you covered!

Learn how the submittal process works from start to finish in this episode of "Atlas All Access". Know what to expect, and get straight answers from our team of experts so when you're ready to take the plunge you can land that dream assignment.

Have a question about the submittal process we didn't cover? Hit up Lindsey Martin; she'll be happy to answer any questions you have. (Although we should warn you, you'll probably walk away with a new friend.)

Get to know Nurse Recruiter Lindsey Martin:

Rich Smith: The application and submittal process can be confusing and difficult. On this episode, we talk with recruiter Lindsey Martin, who has a five page walkthrough, and we're not going to go through all five pages. A five page walkthrough of the application submittal, interview and offer process. Atlas All Access starts now.

Rich Smith: Lindsey, welcome.

Lindsey Martin: Hi, how are you?

Rich Smith: So you've never done this with us before.

Lindsey Martin: I have never been on All Access with us before.

Rich Smith: Well, welcome for the first time.

Lindsey Martin: Thank you very much.

Rich Smith: Okay, so let's walk through this because you sent me a five page document here of kind of your process.

Lindsey Martin: Yeah, I like to be thorough. So yes.

Rich Smith: There's nothing wrong with that. Now, is this something that you talked to your travelers about?

Lindsey Martin: I do. When we get on that first phone call, it's a long call because I want them to understand what to expect. I want them to understand the industry. I want them to know when we get to the point where, one, you're going to fill out the application when we get off this phone call, and we're going to go through this journey together. There's going to be ups, there's going to be downs. This is what it's going to look like so you can be prepared. You can mentally set yourself up for what this is going to look like, and, ultimately, through the ups and the downs, feel successful at the end.

Rich Smith: Got you, because it could get hard, right? It could get really hard, and there'll be times where you want to give up. Not you, the traveler would want to give up.

Lindsey Martin: Right. Hard and frustrating, you know what I mean? I like to tell all of my travelers, here's the deal. A lot of times you're going to ask me a specific question, and my answer is going to be the most frustrating answer you can get because it's going to be "It depends." Because we are working with so many facilities, so many hospitals, so many different places all over the country, and every single one of them has different rules, different guidelines, different requirements. So what might be set in stone for one place is not for the next place. So you're going to say, "Well, what about this?" Well, that depends. And until you get through the application, until you get to the submittal process, there's not a lot of concrete stuff because it's all just floating out there It Could Be Land.

Rich Smith: Sure. It Could Be Land. I think that's the best way I've ever heard it described. So, okay, Let's start with the application process itself, right? So when you get off the phone with them for the first time, or maybe they've already done this and then they've called you, what should they expect in the application piece?

Lindsey Martin: So let's take it back. Either they've already done it, which means they already know it. But if you haven't already done it, we got on the phone, we have a great conversation. We get to the, quote unquote, "next steps." You understand you want to be a traveler. You're excited. I'm going to go have my dream job with my dream pay package. All those lofty, exciting things. But now we have to get down to the brass tacks of actually going through the process to make it happen. So I say, "Hey, next steps, we fill out the application."

Lindsey Martin: The application is not really an application, because when you think of an application ... You're applying to get your driver's license, you're applying to get something. We already not like you're applying because you have the option. We already know we want to work with you. We've already had this conversation where I got to know you, and your pets, and everything else. I already know I want to work with you. The application is really an information collecting process. The things that we need in order to be able to submit you to a job. It's your personal information, it's your employment history, it's your education history. Those are the three big things that I can't really fill out for you because I don't know. You're the one who knows about you. You need to fill out those.

Lindsey Martin: After that process, which is kind of easy. You look at your resume, you plug those things in, you have the thing that everybody seems to hate the most, which is the skills checklist.

Rich Smith: Skills checklist, which we've talked about, right? That's a pain in the ass.

Lindsey Martin: It is. It totally is. It's arduous. I try not to tell anybody to take it too seriously, but at the same point, this is the only thing that managers are going to see that lets them know what you are proficient, how confident you are in your skills to be on their unit.

Rich Smith: And I think that's something that is important going back to is it's a self-assessment, right? And so as much as it's important to be confident in your skills, and honest with your skills, you have to be okay with saying, "I don't do this." Correct?

Lindsey Martin: Right. Correct. Because our job as recruiters is to put you someplace where you're going to be successful. Not only someplace you want to be, someplace that fits your specialty and things like that, but some place you can be successful. And if you are not honest with yourself and honest on the skills assessment, you might get someplace where not only you might be putting patients in jeopardy, but you might be putting your license in jeopardy. This isn't a test. You're not trying to get the right answer.

Rich Smith: Right. There is no score at the end. As much as there's a number at the top, that's not a score. It's not a pass/fail.

Lindsey Martin: No, it's you being honest and being truthful about who you are, what you're good at, what you're comfortable with. Because as a traveler, we're not going to put you through six weeks of orientation. You're going to get a week maybe.

Rich Smith: If you're lucky.

Lindsey Martin: If you're lucky, maybe, and then we're going to put you on unit, and we need you to be fully functional on your own. So this is the hiring manager is going to be able to look through and be like, "Hey, that's something we can show them how to do. That's not. They would not be comfortable in this unit." Or "Hey, they look great. They can even help precept some people maybe." That's what they want to know, and that's why it's so important. And not only is it important for you as the traveler, but it's important that we're making other travelers who you're going to be working next to do because we want you to be in a good, safe environment.

Rich Smith: Yep. All right, let's take one step back to the resume itself.

Lindsey Martin: Okay.

Rich Smith: What if they don't have a resume or the resume they have is "meh."

Lindsey Martin: Whose resume isn't "meh" after they've worked a couple of ... You know? It tends to get out of date unless you're applying for new jobs. Really what it is is name, phone number, email address, some of that personal information. We want to know your work history. As much as we would like to fill it out as in depth and possible, when we get to that point where we as your recruiter are filling out our form essentially, cover page and resume for you, if you miss something, we're just going to call you. "Hey, what was your patient ratio?" "Hey, how many cases did you do a day?" "Hey, what was your charting system?"

Rich Smith: Right.

Lindsey Martin: We can fill in all those blanks with simple text messages, simple "Give me a call and let's go over this really quick." Sometimes I'll email the whole cover page and resume to my traveler and be like, "Hey, I filled this out completely. Make sure this looks the way you want it to look, and make sure it's accurate because ultimately I'm representing you. I want you to look as amazing on paper as you are when we have a conversation."

Rich Smith: And I think maybe it's the ... I've gone back to before internet days, right, when the resume absolutely represented who you were. When you gave your resume to somebody, that was it, and you had it on really nice paper, or whatever. You remember those days, right?

Lindsey Martin: Oh, yeah.

Rich Smith: And it's not like that anymore. Your resume is strictly informational. It doesn't have to be pretty, but it has to have that information on there. And that's something that you can help with.

Lindsey Martin: Yes. And ultimately that's why you have an interview.

Rich Smith: Correct.

Lindsey Martin: We want to see what you can do on paper. We want to be able to check off all the boxes. You have this much experience. This is the unit you've been on. This is your certifications. These are the size of hospitals or facilities you've been at. Let me check off all those boxes, and then you and I can talk when we get to the interview process, and I can learn more about you.

Rich Smith: Yep. Okay, so now the fun part happens, right? The submittal process. You found that job, right? You found it for them, they found it, whatever. It's time to go. What happens? How does that work?

Lindsey Martin: Well, that is the fun part. You get to look, you get to make sure the pay packages are good. You get to make sure the location's good. All right, we're going to submit. I think there's a misconception in understanding the chain of command when it gets to that. You as the traveler say, "Hey, Linds, I'm ready to submit. Let's go to Asheville, North Carolina." "Let's go to Phoenix, Arizona." "Let's go" wherever you want to go. Awesome. I have your profile fully built. I submit it in an email to my client manager, who could be sitting right next to me, but you want a paper trail. Important.

Lindsey Martin: My client manager then submits it to, depending on if it's a direct contract, depending on if the job is through a vendor, to the next person on that list. They review it. Then it's going to go hopefully directly to the HR person at the hospital, and then to the unit manager. So there's an amount of time there that people don't account for. I would love to give you immediate feedback.

Rich Smith: Right. Back in the day, that happened, right?

Lindsey Martin: Yep.

Rich Smith: Back in the day, I could make a phone call and talk to a unit manager, and say "Here's a profile," and I would email it to him or fax it in some cases. We used to fax profiles. Good Lord, that was long time ago. But it would go right to them. Now there's a number of steps. Do you tell them ahead of time? Do you prepare them ahead of time and say, "Look, okay, this is a vendor. It's got to go to this person, this person, and then it gets to the person that may call you."

Lindsey Martin: Yeah, it is a process, and I say, "Hey, I'm following up every single day to try and figure out where the process is," because if you want to submit to somebody at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon, I'm going to be there. I'm going to submit you. My client manager is there. They're going to submit you. But when it gets to the next step outside of our office-

Rich Smith: You never know.

Lindsey Martin: ... who knows if that person took a half day, who knows if that person's on vacation. We're going to try and work with backups and get everything going as quickly as possible, but that's not a phase the traveler or we are in control in. So that's what might slow it up.

Lindsey Martin: And, ultimately, when it gets to the hiring manager's desk, I always tell my travelers, "Think about how busy your unit manager is. Do they have time to just, 'Oh I'm going to drop everything and just make some phone calls because I have time.'" Often, no. They don't have time at all. That pile of profiles might sit on their desk for one, two, five days. And we're pushing my client manager. My client manager is pushing the vendor. The vendor is pushing the HR manager. The HR manager is like, "Hey, get to this." And they're like, "Hey, I'm saving lives."

Rich Smith: Yeah. "Sorry."

Lindsey Martin: "What's more important, me calling you or me saving lives, and helping my nurses that are here right now?"

Rich Smith: But at the same time, they understand the sense of urgency. It's not that they don't. It's just that, you're right, they're busy doing their regular job. And they know they need travelers or they wouldn't have sent the rec out in the first place, right?

Lindsey Martin: Absolutely.

Rich Smith: So it's a balancing act.

Lindsey Martin: It is. It is. And it's wonderful when we can get somebody to call you back in 24 hours. That's amazing. Those are wonderful days.

Rich Smith: Absolutely.

Lindsey Martin: But you try and set realistic expectations. It might be tomorrow. It might be into the week. Just be ready. And that's my job to help prepare you.

Rich Smith: Okay, so get to the interview process then.

Lindsey Martin: Cool.

Rich Smith: What do you expect? Because you broke this down into three potentially different interviews.

Lindsey Martin: Right.

Rich Smith: All right, so break down each one of these three.

Lindsey Martin: Got it. So once you get put on the ... Well, ideally, most common, your profile gets put on the unit manager's desk. We're waiting. We're hoping that they're calling you sooner than later. When you get that phone call, you have to understand they have your profile. They know, one, all your personal information, all your educational information, all your employment history. They have your skills checklist. They have two references that say how great you are. They know everything they need to know in order for you on paper to do the job.

Lindsey Martin: So the first question they're going to ask most often is are you still available? And what that means is have you taken another job? Because a lot of travelers will submit to one, two, three jobs at a time. Playing the odds.

Rich Smith: Which is fine, right?

Lindsey Martin: Yeah.

Rich Smith: That happens.

Lindsey Martin: Absolutely.

Rich Smith: Maybe sometimes with different companies, too.

Lindsey Martin: It happens.

Rich Smith: You just understand that going in.

Lindsey Martin: Yes. And that's why that question is so common. They want to make sure you haven't just signed a contract and taken a job today, yesterday, something like that.

Lindsey Martin: Next, they're going to tell you about the unit. They're going to tell you these are the kinds of patients we have, this is a census. Depending on what specialty, it's going to be different information, but they're going to tell you all about it so you know. And then a lot of times are going to say, "What questions do you have?"

Rich Smith: Correct. And it's important for you during that process to refer back to either your resume or your skills checklist and say, "Yep, I've done that before. I did that when I was at Duke University." "I did that when I was at Mayo." Whatever. Go through and just give them that reassurance that you are the correct person for that job. This is your window of opportunity, right, to sell yourself, to be that person for them.

Lindsey Martin: Exactly. This is your window to be memorable. This is your window to set yourself apart. This is your opportunity to not only advocate for yourself, but also set yourself apart with questions you might have. And we, as recruiters, always want you to go over start date. Make sure we're on the same page. We always want you to go over vacation days. Make sure we're on the same page. Things like that. But ask them about their unit in a little bit more detail. "How many travelers do you have?" I always remind my travelers, "Ask them what scrub color you're going to need."

Rich Smith: That's a good question, too.

Lindsey Martin: Because at least my travelers like to be prepared.

Rich Smith: Absolutely. Okay, so that's the first type of interview.

Lindsey Martin: Right.

Rich Smith: Second type would be the vendor, because there are vendors out there that will interview instead of or before it gets to that point.

Lindsey Martin: Yes.

Rich Smith: What do you expect from that? Because they're completely, in most cases, detached from the facility.

Lindsey Martin: Exactly. I guess the general term is a prescreen interview.

Rich Smith: Sure.

Lindsey Martin: They are sitting in their offices, not at the facility, and they are calling just to kind of feel you out and, I tell my travelers, just to make sure you're not crazy. They want to make sure you can have a conversation. A lot of our travelers are bedside. You're having conversations with patients. You're having conversations with doctors. They want to make sure that you can have that conversation.

Lindsey Martin: They'll ask informational stuff. "What are your strengths," or "When was a time you dealt with something difficult?" Those general interview questions. And once they're done, as long as this is the job you're applying for, this is the job that matches, they're going to say, "Hey, sounds good. I'm going to send you on to the unit manager." It's just a way for them to kind of ... Exactly what it is. Pre-screen you to make sure you're still a good fit not just on paper but personality-wise.

Rich Smith: So then the last piece would be maybe like that automated one. That happens sometimes, too. Which I've heard some of them. It can be frustrating. Maybe sometimes your answers don't always come across the way you want them to. I think that on those, at least my advice would be, be patient.

Lindsey Martin: Yes.

Rich Smith: Right. It's just like when you're on the phone with your bank or whatever, and you're trying to get to a live person. It doesn't always work.

Lindsey Martin: It doesn't always work. And any intelligent person is going to realize this is not a conversation. It's just you talking to a machine, and you can only be so charismatic. You can only be so original. You can only show so much of yourself when you're talking to a machine. So, in most cases, you can record your answers many times as you want to. If you're one of those people that thinks through things and you say, "Um, um, um," you might want to say, "Let's record that one again." Or if you get ahead of yourself, and it doesn't come across as you, record it again. You have the option. Use that.

Lindsey Martin: And why that's so important is a lot of times these recordings are saved six months to a year, so if you apply for another job with that vendor or another job with that facility, they're going to replay that for up to a year. So make sure that these answers are true to you, and where you're at, and what you want to convey.

Rich Smith: Yep. And I think the last thing that goes without saying, but the question has come up before, is these are all done over the phone. You're not going to that place to interview.

Lindsey Martin: That is absolutely correct. I do get that question. "Am I going to fly out to North Carolina, Phoenix, Arizona, California, wherever?" No, this is all going to be done via phone a lot of times, sometimes email, you know what I mean? To set up an interview time if a manager is that organized or something like that.

Rich Smith: So, yay, interview is done. Client manager gets the phone call. "We want to offer this position." Client manager goes back to you and say, "Okay, I want to offer this position to this traveler." What happens then?

Lindsey Martin: So, for me, I only submit my travelers to jobs they actually want to go to. So it answers a lot of questions right then and there. So when they get to the interview process, they know "This is a job I want." It's up to the details of the job to make sure it's a good fit. Sometimes you'll have a specialty listed and it's not quite there. You'll float a little bit. If that's something, we're going to have that conversation, just make sure it's the right fit.

Lindsey Martin: But when the offer gets back to me, it's a celebration. "Hey, friend, guess what? You just interviewed. They offered you. This is great." And as soon as the interview is finished, my travelers are going to call me. They're going to tell me all the details about the job, and my first question to them is, "Hey, if they offer you this job, are you going to accept it?"

Rich Smith: "Are you taking it?"

Lindsey Martin: So I already know.

Rich Smith: Right.

Lindsey Martin: By the time the offer gets to me, I already know. I'm just double checking the details to make sure they're good, and we're working through the process of getting everything signed.

Rich Smith: Well, and I think that's important, too, is, at least from a traveler standpoint, because they may not know that after you interview it's okay to call your recruiter and talk through it. Because there are times probably where stuff comes up in the interview and they think, "Uh oh. That's not what I expected." Through no fault of yourself or the client manager or whoever. Maybe the job description was poorly written. Maybe there was no job description. Maybe you just know I wanted an ICU job in Phoenix and it turns out it it's an ICU job in Phoenix, but it isn't what they were looking for at all. It's a medical ICU floor, and they've never had that experience, and the ratio was off, and whatever. There could be any number of things wrong. That phone call to your recruiter immediately after the interview is vital.

Lindsey Martin: Yes, because we want to make sure that we're on the same page, and if there are any questions that arise, that we can help you through that. Our job is customer service. Our job is to make sure that you are happy and comfortable where you are. I can't account for a grumpy charge nurse, but I can account for making sure all the boxes on paper are checked to make sure you are comfortable and you are getting to the places we want you to get to, and the places you want to be with everything lining up.

Rich Smith: Perfect. So I hope that answered most of the questions.

Lindsey Martin: Most of the questions. There are details, but those are things you go over with your recruiter.

Rich Smith: There's always going to be other details along the way. Always.

Lindsey Martin: It's always going to depend.

Rich Smith: And your recruiter is your lifeline.

Lindsey Martin: Yes.

Rich Smith: Before, after, during. The entire life cycle of that, of you as a traveler, as you going out on the road. And it all starts from the application all the way through the offer.

Lindsey Martin: Exactly.

Rich Smith: So, Lindsey, thank you so much.

Lindsey Martin: Absolutely. This was great.

Rich Smith: This was awesome. If anybody's interested in her five page white paper on what to expect from the submittal summary interview process, you can email her and she'd be happy to share that with you.

Lindsey Martin: Yeah, I'll share it with you. I'll talk you through it. Yeah, I'm here to help.

Rich Smith: Awesome. All right. See you next week.