Locuming 101: Locum Agencies and finding the best one for you

Locuming 101: Locum Agencies

Your best friends and at times, you're worst enemies - Locum agencies are they middle man between you and your next placement. To make sure you're getting the best out of your agency read our article below.

Much like a glove, the agencies you work for have to be the right fit. With so many agencies out there all competing for your services, finding the right agency can be tricky, especially when joining an unsuitable agency will not only cost you countless of hours signing up but potentially thousands of pounds in missed income opportunities. In this article we will talk you through the factors you should  consider before joining your agencies:

  • Beginning your search
  • Playing the agency dating game
  • Settling down with your preferred agencies.

Factors you want to consider before finding agencies.
There are over 200 different agencies and independents vying for your services to offer to healthcare institutions around the UK, which often makes finding the proverbial needles in the haystack challenge. While on the face of it, there may seem like very little difference between one agency and another, you'll often only find the ones worth working for after a quick chat with one of the agencies recruiters. 
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But making 200 odd phonecalls is neither fun or particularly efficient so we need to cut down the list. As you're the service in demand, you can be choosy with the agencies you work for and something to be picky over may include:
  • Professions covered.
  • Long term or short term contract specialists - we have a great article on this issue if you're unsure.
  • Locations covered.
  • Pay rates.
  • Primary, secondary or private care specialists.
  • Mandatory training requirements -(need help? - read this).
  • DBS check (check out our DBS checks if you need one).
You'll now have a good string of keywords you can pop into google that will highlight agencies. For instance, a quick search for "Locum agencies for pharmacists in London" will narrow down the options. Some agencies work nationwide and in these instances, if you see a name pop up a few times, its worth adding that agency to your draft.
Visiting the agencies website is a must for the following reasons:
  • Youll get a chance to see how open and transparent they are.
  • Youll may be able to see their latest vacancies.
  • You can read up more about the agency themselves and see what frameworks they belong to.
The final bullet above is key, as framework approved agencies get preferential treatment to fill locums in most NHS locations.
It's likely you'll probably have around 6 to 12 agencies that you're considering working with. Depending on how quick it is to upload your documents to these agencies (here's a great article on organising your compliance documents) and if you have decided to make use of tools like the Locum Passport, you may end up joining anywhere from 3 to all of these agencies.

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Now comes the fun part - agency dating. You'll soon have floods of potential job opportunities coming through and you'll be able to see which agencies are consistently providing you with the most suitable opportunities. You'll also be able to see which agencies offer you further value with help with things like umbrella companies, payment solutions and clinical development/revalidation. To read more about agency dating we have a great little piece on it, available here
Agencies that invest in you are the golden nuggets that you want to be working for. Remember you are the in-demand service and it's nice to be treated as such. If you feel an agency is wasting your time or simply unable to provide you with the work you're looking for, you have a few options:
  1. Talk to them directly and voice your concerns.
  2. Stop responding to their communications (although you'll still receive annoying and unwanted job offers).
  3. Request that you be removed from their database as you are not seeing any benefit of them having so much of your data.
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You've weeded out the non-starters, you've had to let go of the almosts and now you're left with the cream of the crop - 3 or 4 agencies that you can depend on to supply you with opportunities that are relevant and appealing to you. You'll also form some great relationships with your recruitment consultant who you'll be sure is working to secure you the best possible deals at every available opportunity.

Keep in regular contact with your consultants, let them know when you're available to work or taking a holiday or if your personal circumstances change meaning you need a change of role or perhaps location. The best consultants will be proactive with this information and make sure they have a list of options available to you when it’s time to move on from your current role. 

What do you think about our whistle-stop tour of finding the right agency, did we miss anything? Leave your comments below.

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