There are FIVE very important things you need to know before taking your next travel assignment:
1. SALARY, SALARY, SALARY.
Chances are INCREDIBLY HIGH you are NOT getting paid top dollar for your assignment if you accept the Standard Benefit Package travel companies offer.
Most travelers (both new and seasoned) do not realize that the Standard Benefit Package offered by a travel company is only a STARTING place for negotiation. Because the initial salary offered is higher than what they receive for a stationary job position, often travelers quickly take the standard salary, not realizing that negotiating for MORE is relatively easy.
I know for a fact that I have worked along side other medical travelers doing the same job I was hired to do at the same time in the same hospital and they were making less per hour than me…And some of these people were not new to the travel game! Why? They might either be unaware of the pay range for their job title and competency and/or they simply thought that their current assignment “just paid that particular amount.”
But the real NUMBER ONE reason they aren’t getting top dollar is they don’t know what to ask and how to ask for it!
Just knowing what to ask can signal to a recruiter that you are a savvy business person and immediately increase your changes of getting the best deal.
Don’t take years to “catch on”, losing money all the while, when you can start smart right out of the gate. And if you’ve already hit the road and are suspecting you’re not getting the best deals, you can change that today!
2. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!!
You can end up in some very undesirable locations if you don’t know how to access the best travel assignments.
When I first began medical travel I had no idea of the broad scope of places I could visit. I merely took the only job I was offered and set out to drive across the country in my own car. I arrived to spend a very desolate 13 weeks in a little out of the way town that offered nothing of interest. In addition it was a very dull working environment. So much for the glamour of travel!!
The type of job I just described is obviously harder to fill with a more knowledgeable traveler and therefore many companies merely take advantage of the traveling novice and send them packing to the outer parts of nowhere. After all, the travel company gets paid for you to work…where you work is your problem!
However, even those who have been traveling for awhile often do not know how to land the most desirable job locations. It took me several years to figure out the “nuts and bolts” of ending up where I really wanted to work and visit. (After all, one of the main reasons besides salary to hit the road is to enjoy the view!!) Looking back, accessing the BEST job locations was really just a matter of know-how and not complicated at all.
3. TRAVEL NIGHTMARES!
You can get booked on some flights from “you know where” if you are unaware of the options the travel company can provide.
Some years ago I took a job in Oregon that necessitated me flying across the country from my Florida address. I was still in my medical travel learning curve and thus ended up changing flights three different times complete with hideous layovers plus I arrived at 1 am in the morning at an airport that was two hours away from the town where I would be working! I took the rental car awaiting me and drove to the hotel where I was to spend my first night (if crawling into bed at around 4 am could be called going to bed for the night!) On top of that the motel ended up being a colossal dump with a stuck heater system that turned my room into a steam bath, finally driving me out into the early morning air exhausted and angry.
Since travel companies normally cover your travel expenses, they can save money by re-routing you all over the place and by having you arrive at weird hours and in towns or cities within “driving distance” of your destination. Trust me, it happens often! If you don’t know your “rights” you’ll have the experience fairly quickly once you begin to travel.
So just know that because you’re told your “travel plans are all taken care of” it doesn’t mean you’re going to like the arrangements one bit!!
4. HOUSING…LOUSY, JUST AVERAGE, OR GRAND!
There are many ways to either enjoy or rue the day you took an assignment and one of those factors is the type of housing accommodations the travel company provides for you.
Most assignment last 13 weeks and 13 weeks is a long time to live somewhere you don’t like and enjoy. I’ve had just about every experience possible since I began traveling, from fairly lousy, to just average, to absolutely grand. And as any traveler will tell you, GRAND is always better!
To tell you the truth I could just kick myself when I think back to some of the housing conditions I accepted. It wasn’t that they were terrible (well, one was pretty bad!), many were just “ho-hum.” (Certainly not directly overlooking the ocean, which I have now experienced on two assignments…all due to the negotiating techniques I’ve learned along the way.)
But now I go first class on each of my assignments and I do that on a regular basis. And believe it or not, it’s very easy to get those upscale housing considerations. Very easy! Among the many considerations I ask for and receive besides an upscale apartment complex or condo community ( a good start in and of itself!), are a BIG television (I like sports and I don’t want to squint to see the action!), a washer and dryer inside my personal apartment or condo (no trips to the local wash-dry-and-fold for me!), availability of a pool and work out room, a really well stocked kitchen (not just a few barely adequate necessities) and even a hide-a-bed sofa at my current assignment just in case I want to have guests. These are just a few examples of the things I ask for and receive…My list goes on and on!
5. THE RIGHT JOB!
There are some very simple but critical things you need to ask to determine if you’re walking into a job straight from the pit or into smooth sailing complete with a great environment and friendly co-workers and physicians.
You will be interviewed by a recruiter from the travel company to see where you are best suited to work and you will also be interviewed by a representative of the hospital where you are being considered for a travel position. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to interview them too.
I am still appalled when I hear even seasoned travelers tell me they ask very few questions, other than the basics, when they are considering a position. As a result, horror stories constantly make the rounds about travelers arriving at jobs that turned out to be anything but what they expected. And now they are bound by a legal contract to complete the assignment!
To me, not asking the right questions is not only totally foolish, it’s completely unnecessary. Almost without exception I can spot “red flags” about a job just by asking some critical questions of the travel company recruiter and the hospital representative. In fact, you’ll be awed at the information people will volunteer if you just ask the right way!!
Case in point…not long ago I was interviewing for a position in my home state of Florida. It had all the criteria on the surface that made it seem the perfect set up. However, after asking the questions I’ve learned over time to ask, I knew I would be walking straight into one those situations I wanted to avoid at all costs. For example, just one of the red flags that presented was this…three people had left all at once from this particular department, indicating there were some major problems there. I would not have known that if I hadn’t asked the right question. The exit of those three employees leads me to ask a few more questions. As a result, I quickly moved on to another assignment.
The interesting follow up to this story is that some months later I returned and took this exact assignment. Why? The whole stage had changed…new people, new environment…things had settled down and the unworkable situation had been corrected. And the job was great this time around. One of the other travelers that had lasted out the initial nightmare and had renewed his assignment told me I had certainly avoided the worst. Hear, hear!
Now, I’ve given you just five things from the many chapters of my book, Insider Secrets to Medical Travel that you must know before taking your next travel assignment, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned traveler who has become dissatisfied with the deals you’re being offered.
Implementing any ONE of these five things in an informed manner can bring you tremendous benefits while saving you untold grief and a lengthy, painful learning curve.