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5 Tips for Choosing a Locum Tenens Recruitment Agency

If you're a physician, PA or NP seeking a new locum tenens opportunity, you have a wealth of choices in front of you. Now more than ever before, locum tenens agencies are abundant, with more springing up every year to take advantage of the current pressing need for employers to find qualified candidates.

Of course, we highly recommend working with Locum Leaders, a well-established locum tenens company offering personal, one-on-one service from our team of knowledgeable, dedicated recruiters. And because we're a company of AMN Healthcare, the nation's leading healthcare recruitment network, you can be confident that we're not going anywhere. We'll be there when you need us, from the beginning of your assignment through your entire locum tenens career. (Read about more reasons to work with Locum Leaders.)

Whatever choice you make regarding your locum tenens agency, we want to make sure you're equipped to understand how to sync your career goals and personal needs with the recruiter you choose.

5 Tips for Choosing a Locum Tenens Recruitment Agency

1. The Client Pays (Not the Candidate). Recruiters can help you find a locums assignment, but that doesn't mean you should pay for their services. Recruiters are always paid by the party seeking a physician or advanced practitioner, and never by the candidate. If a recruiter asks you for any type of payment, you should avoid working with that agency.

2. Understand the Difference Between Retained and Contingent Agencies. There are two basic kinds of locum tenens recruitment firms — retained firms and contingent firms. Retained firms get an upfront fee or retainer from clients before the search, and a placement fee when the search has been successfully concluded. Contingent firms don't receive any upfront fee, and are paid only when they make a placement. Retained firms employ consultants who represent a limited number of assignments. They usually visit the assignments personally to obtain a relatively in-depth level of knowledge about the job, as well as the community. Contingent recruiters, on the other hand, usually don't personally visit the employment site. They also usually represent many different opportunities.

A good retained firm offers the advantage of in-depth knowledge about the employer, as well as a high degree of support services. A possible drawback of retained firms is that they may only present you to a limited number of employers. A good contingent firm, on the other hand, may not offer the same level of knowledge or support, but will present you to a wider range of employers. Remember, there is no imperative to work with one kind over the other. You find it a good idea to try out both kinds.

3. Don't Spread Yourself Thin. It's a mistake to work with every recruiter out there. If your CV is too widely circulated, it can make you look too eager (or even desperate) for a job. Some employers may then assume that there's something wrong with your work or training record, even if that's not the case. It can also create confusion, because recruitment firms may not know whose candidate you really are, and hence, who gets paid should you take a particular offer. In some cases, recruiters won't work with a candidate if they think the CV has been "over-shopped."

There's no college degree for recruiting, nor are recruiters licensed. Anyone can call themselves a recruiter. Therefore, it's important to get to know about the firms you work with. Determine who their clients are and, in general, evaluate their level of professionalism. This isn't a choice to be made randomly, as you're ultimately trusting your recruiter to help you with the very important task of finding an assignment.

4. Know What You Want! Try to have a realistic vision of what you need! You may want a part-time job (with full-time pay) working for a hospital in Florida. What you may actually need, however, is an established referral base in an area with minimal competition. Determine, in general, the type of location you truly need (considering factors such as outdoor recreation, family friendliness, location, the position you need, and the pay you need. This will allow your recruiter to accurately present you to employers matching those needs.

5. Don't Tire Kick. Professional locum tenens recruiters have no problem with candidates who ultimately choose other opportunities, as well as those who decide to stay put. They know that those candidates will come back the next time they're seeking an assignment. What recruiters do object to, however, are candidates who aren't really serious about finding an assignment, but are simply "tire kicking." If you don't seriously intend to accept a serious offer, don't put yourself on the market! You'll only end up frustrating recruiters and potential employers, which doesn't bode well should you want to work with them again down the road.

During the time it takes you to identify an assignment, interview, negotiate and close, you should be in close, continual contact with your locum tenens recruiter. You can judge the commitment of your recruiter by the amount of time he or she spends with you and with your spouse or partner on the phone, providing you with key information and detailed answers to any questions you may have. Keep in mind that the recruiter's goal should be to create a valid and lasting match between you, the candidate and the employer. As such, there should be no "high-pressure" sales tactics. Rather, there should be a consistent, professional effort to help you find the locum tenens assignment that best meets your needs.

Seeking new physician employment opportunities in the United States? Search our current list of locum tenens job openings here.

Adapted from an article originally published on

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