February 22, 2018

The Challenges of Recruiting Travel Healthcare Professionals in a Heavy VMS/MSP Market


Recruiters in the travel healthcare staffing market face many challenges. One of the most significant set of challenges relates to increased penetration by vendor management services (VMSs) and managed service providers (MSPs).

Arguably 50 percent of revenue generated in the travel nursing space is generated through a VMS or MSP. The penetration rates are lower in allied and travel locums, but as hospitals and healthcare organizations continue to search for ways to lower costs, both the VMS and MSP models will continue to be attractive options.

These providers offer clients many advantages. In addition to improving fill rates and fill times, these providers offer consolidated billing, manage timekeeping systems, and complete credentialing and onboarding requirements for their contingent staff, among other things.

The Disadvantages of the VMS/MSP Model for Recruiters

The list of advantages these providers offer to agencies and recruiters is quite a bit shorter. While VMSs and MSPs do offer opportunities to many small and mid-sized agencies that would otherwise not have nearly as many open requisitions without them, these models also present several disadvantages to recruiters and agencies alike.

Here is a breakdown of the some of the major disadvantages an agency and its recruiters face when working with a VMS or MSP:

1. The ‘Black Hole Effect’ 

Recruiters submitting qualified candidates often receive little or no feedback from these providers. In fact, recruiters are often told if they don’t hear anything within 48-72 hours, they should assume the client is not interested.

Both the VMS and MSP platforms are volume-focused models. With increased volume comes increased competition. Unfortunately, many of these providers do not have the necessary resources in place to provide adequate support to suppliers.

2. Blind Submittals

This term used to mean a candidate’s information was sent to a client without the candidate’s name or contact information included. These days, it refers to the common scenario wherein a recruiter submits a candidate to a VMS or MSP position with little or no job details.

3. Variability of Requirements to Submit

resumeThere are more than 60 unique VMSs and MSPs, each with its own set of requirements for candidate submittal. Recruiters now have to create unique candidate submittal packets for each individual VMS and MSP. This is a serious issue when one considers the importance of speed to market in a competitive environment.

4. Job Search and Job Matching

A typical staffing agency partners with ten or more providers, each of which distributes its jobs differently. Many agencies lack a technology solution for assimilating all job orders into one convenient location, making the task of searching all available job orders tedious and time-consuming.

5 Strategies for Addressing the Challenges of the VMS/MSP Model

Given these very real challenges agencies and recruiters face, it is important to identify strategies to help mitigate the losses in productivity they may produce. Here are some useful strategies for agencies and recruiters:

1. Educate Your Talent Pool About the Market

It is more important than ever that agency recruiters are explaining the hiring process so candidates have realistic expectations. Many candidates, especially those who are new to the travel staffing industry, assume once they are presented with an opportunity and agree to be submitted, they will get an interview – or at least feedback from the client – within 24-48 hours. That was the case a decade ago, but the timeline is not the same in today’s market. Ensuring candidates have realistic expectations will help recruiters maintain trust with candidates throughout the placement process.

2. Increase the Number of Job Openings You Present to a Candidate

Because there is increased competition for roles, it is critical you have multiple irons in the fire. Always be certain a candidate has fully reviewed and accepted the terms of the assignment prior to submitting their profile for the position. Remember: “You’ve got to get the commit before you submit.”

3. Pre-Close All Candidates on a Position Prior to Submitting Their Profiles

Some valuable information will not be included in the job posting. Although that is not ideal, you must share any and all information you do have about the position. As a general rule, you should never have a candidate decline an offer because of some piece of information you had prior to engaging in the submittal process. For example, the candidate should never decline an offer because it is not the right location. After all, the assignment location hasn’t changed, right?

4. Agencies Should Provide Recruiters With Lists of All Partner VMSs and MSPs

The list should identify all requirements for each provider’s submittal process – e.g., vendor-neutral cover sheet, resume, two supervisor references, license verification, etc.

5. Identify Solutions for Assimilating Job Orders From VMS and MSP Partners

Care should be taken to ensure the assimilated list is accurate and updated at least daily. There are platforms readily available for those agencies lacking the resources to develop their own solutions.

Recruiters face many new challenges in the travel healthcare staffing market, given the increasing penetration of VMS and MSP platforms. A few of the major challenges can be addressed by following the steps outlined above. As technology inserts itself into the space, agencies and recruiters will need to adopt strategies that allow for increased productivity and efficiency.

Adam Gomez is the cofounder and chief operating officer at Moxie Mentoring LLC.

Read more in Temp Agencies

Adam Gomez is the cofounder and chief operating officer at Moxie Mentoring LLC. Moxie offers training and consulting services to travel healthcare staffing firms nationwide. Moxie is committed to giving recruiters and staffing firms a competitive advantage. Prior to launching Moxie, Adam and his business partner, cofounder of Moxie, and fianceé, Shari Dalton, worked as recruiters in the travel healthcare staffing market for more than a decade.