• First and foremost, keep your cell phone by your side at all times and answer it every time it rings. Your caller ID may not display the fact that a hospital is calling, and should the call go to voicemail, you’ve significantly lessened your chances of getting the interview. Many managers will move on to other candidates if they can’t reach you.
• Should you miss the initial interview call, call back immediately and leave a message expressing your sincere interest in the position. Remember, if the nurse manager doesn’t get you on the phone, they may interview someone else and fill the job before you have a chance to speak with them.
• If you’re asked to call the hospital by your recruiter, do so immediately. The first qualified candidate to make the connection will most likely be hired for the travel job. Keep in mind that the hospital is looking to fill travel nurse openings as quickly as possible.
• Be alert during the phone interview. Standing while on the phone keeps you more focused than sitting, and finding a quiet place with minimal distractions is crucial to a successful job interview.
• Educate yourself about the hospital with which you’re interviewing prior to receiving the call, and be sure to write down the name and phone number of the manager with whom you speak. Good communication skills are vital. Stay on topic and answer questions fully yet succinctly. Eliminate casual conversation and conduct yourself professionally.
• Know your resume and skills checklist like the back of your hand. You’ll be asked specific questions about your qualifications and answering them promptly (in much the same fashion as you would make a snap decision as a travel nurse on the floor) is crucial to presenting yourself as capable and confident.
• Plan the questions you have in advance and be sure to ask them. Questions regarding available shifts, floating, nurse to patient ratios, and scheduling will give you insight into the quality of nurse management. Be sure to ask the clinical questions you need answered as well. What EMR system are they using? What type of travel nursing job orientation can you expect?
• Smile during the phone interview. Believe it or not, smiling will help convey a positive, upbeat tone to your interviewer, something nurse managers consider an asset to their staff.
• Flexibility with dates, shifts, and schedules will increase the odds of securing the travel nursing position you want. Be sure to convey the fact that you have a reputation for being prompt and working well on a team. If possible, avoid the need to request specific time off while on an assignment; however, when doing so is unavoidable, be sure to let your recruiter know in advance and bring up the dates during the phone interview. Be flexible and offer something in exchange such as an extra weekend or holiday shift.
• Always carry paper and pen with you so you can write things down. Toward the end of the interview, verify important job details such as start date, shift, unit, floor, and the length of travel assignment being offered. Some of these details may have changed since your recruiter initially presented the job to you. If the interviewer doesn’t specify, ask what the next step is in the interview process.
• Ensure that you are available for the dates and times that you have agreed to interview. If not, you may appear disorganized, unprofessional, or disinterested to a nurse manager. Most importantly, don’t forget to tell the interviewer that you want the travel position and to call your recruiter immediately after the interview to discuss how it went.
• Get to the point. Your cover letter should be compelling and concise—keep it to one page. It should effectively make the case to your potential employer as to why you are the best candidate for the job.
• List benefits, not features. Your potential employer wants to know, “What can YOU do for ME?” Think of a cover letter as a sales brochure, and you are the product. In other words, don’t just tell the employer what you have done; let him or her know what you have the potential to do and how this can benefit the facility.
• Personalize each cover letter. You’ll want to customize your cover letter for each job to which you apply. Visit the website of the facility to which you’re applying, review the facility’s mission and vision statements and read through the job description carefully. How can the facility benefit from your skill set?
• Address your cover letter to someone specific. If you can avoid it, do not address your letter “to whom it may concern.” (Your recruiter will be able to tell you the name of the person who will be reviewing your cover letter and resume).
• Tell a story. Nothing compels readers quite like a personal story. Use your creativity to craft a brief story (no longer than one paragraph) that outlines a pertinent topic, such as why you went to nursing school, or what a nursing career means to you. It will give your cover letter a personal touch and let the employer take a sneak peek into your character.
• Use key words. Search for similar positions on job databases. Are certain words commonly used? Pepper these into your cover letter.
• Review, review, review. To illustrate your professionalism and attention to detail, make sure your cover letter is grammatically correct and has no spelling errors. Read it forward and backward, and ask a friend or family member to review it as well.
By following these steps, you’ll be able to write a cover letter that puts you ahead of the competition. Remember, you want your cover letter to make you stand out from a stack of other resumes.
It’s important for healthcare professionals to have a file of up-to-date documents and forms. There are several forms that are required to send to a travel agency upon being placed.
• Copies of license/certification for every state you are licensed in.
• Front and back copies of your certification cards (BLS, ACLS, PALS, TNCC, etc.).
• Copies of your Social Security card and driver’s license. Be sure to copy the backside of your driver’s license if you have any change of address listed there.
• Resume-up to date, with most recent experience and skills.
• Letters of reference and previous evaluations.
• Vaccination records- rubella, varicella, hepatitis B, measles, mumps and an annual influenza vaccine or titer test showing immunity.
• Annual physician statement from your doctor.
• Annual TB test—within the last year
Having an electronic version of these documents is often easier than paper documents because they can be quickly e-mailed to your recruiter.