With all the hype about the demand for locum tenens doctors and nurses, it is easy to think that anyone with a license and a decent CV can get a good deal with a recruiter. But that is not necessarily the case. Recruiters and staffing agencies have to protect their own reputations even as they fill the slots made available by clients. They must be picky about who they choose if they want to protect their own businesses.
With that understanding, recruiters are looking for specific qualities in their locums. A clinician with the right qualities and the CV to back them up should not have any trouble landing high-quality assignments. Clinicians on the other end of the scale may not only have trouble finding work, but they might also discover they are not being actively recruited.
Clear and Timely Communication
Right at the top of the list is communication. Recruiters have more work than they can do in a single day. They don’t have time to chase down locums who do not answer their phones, do not respond to e-mails, and do not keep them updated about things that could potentially change the recruiter-client relationship.
Recruiters absolutely want clinicians who communicate in a timely and clear fashion. They want straight answers to their questions, honesty about concerns, and the courtesy of responding to inquiries within a reasonable amount of time.
Next on the recruiter’s list is a reasonable amount of availability. This applies in several ways. First is availability in communicating. If a recruiter can only reach a locum during a small two-hour window on any given day, that limits what the recruiter can do. Recruiters need to be able to reach prospects at most times during normal business hours.
Availability also applies to taking assignments. The clinician ready to take a new assignment as soon as the current one is complete will be at the top of the list of recruiters. Another who wants to work three months, then take three months off before searching for new assignment is going to be put further down the list.
Third on the recruiter’s list is scheduling flexibility. Again, this manifests in a couple of ways. First is a willingness to take an assignment even though it doesn’t offer a 9-to-5, Monday through Friday schedule. Sometimes a locum has to take an assignment that involves rotating shifts or three months on overnights. That is the nature of the beast.
Flexibility extends to being ready to respond at a moment’s notice as well. The doctor who says he/she’s ready for the next assignment whenever it comes is one who is ready to hop on a plane the minute his/her recruiter calls with an offer. Clinicians who are known to be flexible in this way normally jump to the top of the preferred list.
Finally is a cooperative mindset. Just like truck drivers have to do their best to get along with their dispatchers, clinicians who strive to cooperate with the recruiters make life easier for everyone involved. And let’s be honest, recruiters are not going to go out of their way to contact doctors who take joy in making their lives miserable. Such doctors will always be at the bottom of the list.
A CV alone does not guarantee locums work, let alone the best assignments in the business. Locums have to communicate well, be reasonably available, be flexible, and have a cooperative mindset to succeed. Those who have the four qualities listed above will be in the best position to enjoy a long and prosperous locum career.