How-to, Locuming

Locum agency Dating: How to find your perfect match

Agency dating

Welcome to the agency dating game, the best way to find the perfect agency for you. Read on below to find out what questions to ask to find the right match.

If you haven't read our guide on the basics of locum agencies, we'd suggest reading that article to familiarise yourself with the some of the concepts discussed in this blog. 
Agency dating, as the name suggests is a chance for you to be (proverbially) wined and dined by different agencies to find out which one you want to give all of your time and energy to. Find the best suitor to invest yourself into and the relationship pays dividends in the long run.
The rules of the agency dating game are as follows:
  • You may date as many agencies as you like
  • You have to rate the agency on on
- Pay rates.
- Payment processing.
- Availability.
- Communication.
- Extras.
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1. Download the Locum Passport app for free and sign up for a pro account. 
Get yourself signed up to a few agencies that you're interested in working for (the pro account makes this so much simpler, but it isn't essential). If you don't feel like using the locum passport just sign up to each agency the good old fashioned (time-consuming) way.
2. See how long it takes for each agency to get back to you. 
Punctuality and communication are essential traits of a good relationship so you want the agency to be quick in contacting you, actioning your requests and updating you on any issues they may have. If an agency gets in touch promptly, they'll have you registered quicker and of course, available for placement sooner.
3. See what roles they have available. 
This is a good reference point as it will show you what opportunities the agency can offer you. Bear in mind however, this could change quickly as the locum market is very fluid and new opportunities are always becoming available. That said, you'll come to find that specific area or healthcare providers tend to have a preferred agency to use, so you can expect agencies with good amounts of work to normally carry that demand through the year.
4. Book yourself in for a shift with the agency. 
Was it an easy experience? With the new rules regarding IR35 coming into play, what the agency actually pays you can sometimes be a bit confusing. Does the agency lay everything out and make it a simple process to understand how much you will be paid, how they will pay you and when? Do they also give you a good chance of a smooth transition to your new role by providing you with the name of your manager, details about parking and security passes etc?

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  • Start the relationship as you mean to go on, if you don't like something, make sure you're heard.
5. You've worked your first shift and now its time to get paid. But no one likes a cheap date! 
Make sure the agency has an easy process to follow for being paid. It should be a simple case of filling out a timesheet or providing an invoice and sending it to your recruitment consultant. Finally, how long is the agencies processing time, are they charging you anything?
6. You've completed the shift(s) it's time to find new work. 
How proactive is the agency in finding you new work? Also, are they keeping tabs on your compliance and making sure your insurance is void by undertaking the necessary training and procedures (not that this is a problem if you're using the Locum Passport).
7. Extras - they always sweeten the deal. 
Is your agency a people pleaser - do they add added value to your work by giving you some extra bits that you wouldn't necessarily expect? For instance, some agencies may contribute towards your parking, milage or accommodation. While other agencies will process your payments extra quick over bank holidays at no extra charge as a way of saying thanks to you.
8. Measure your experience with one agency with another. 
No agency is perfect but like all good love stories you'll learn to live with some of the annoying habits so that you can enjoy the good times together! It is always good to speak to other locums about their experiences so you can avoid the rotten tomatoes, plus there's always a chance that you both could earn a small pay packet by referring each other to a good agency you've been working with!
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If you're new to locuming you may not have any idea what is the industry norm and what is perhaps sub-par for your value. We've spoken to a few agencies and these are the best results we could get:

2) With most of the agencies, we got a call back within a few hours to discuss our requirements and how they could help. Most of the agencies took on board what we wanted and actively engaged in looking for work that met our requirements.

3) Most agencies that we signed up with were able to offer a choice of at least 3 roles within a 90-minute commute of our location. Not bad choice if you sign up with 4 agencies.

4) We found that the best process was a quick phone call from our recruitment consultant who explained everything to us. From processing payments to giving us direction on who to seek out on our first day, we really felt prepared to hit the ground running on our first day.
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5) The agency did exactly what they said they would. The key question about this section is whether or not the agency delivered as promised. If they didn't, I hate to say it, you're only setting yourself up for continued heartache.

6) Our favourite agencies each gave us a 'debrief' where they were able to find out about what we learnt and how we developed. They then used this to update our details and skills ready to find a better shift for us in the future. Before the debrief, while we were still working, we also received a call around a week before the end of the contract to discuss options going forward. It was a nice touch.

7) The best treatment we received was a contribution to the £14 a day parking we had to pay while working at a local hospital! We also received quicker payment processing for free over the Christmas and Easter breaks.

8) We received a referral bonus of £500 for referring one of our locum friends to the agency!

We hope this helps in your quest for finding the perfect agency. Let us know how you get on!

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