How to Get the Most From Your Locum Agency
Once you're registered and fully compliant with a locum agency, you'll soon begin working with them to find shifts. In this article, we explain how that process works and share some useful tips for getting the most out of your relationship with your locum agency.
Your locum agency will assign you a dedicated recruiter as your main point of contact. This tends to be somewhat random based on when you register, but the better agencies will have dedicated teams for different specialties.
Locum agencies get a constant stream of shifts coming in from NHS Trusts. Most agencies will send out regular (sometimes daily) emails listing the shifts they have available. Some agencies will personalise these emails for you by only including shifts that match your criteria, while others tend to dump all their shifts into very long emails.
Either way, when you see an opportunity you're interested in, just get in touch with your recruiter and they'll pass your details on to the hospital. In most cases you'll get feedback very quickly, although it can sometimes take a few days if they have a high volume of applicants.
We strongly recommend tailoring your CV to the specialties you want to work in, and be sure to get references from departments where you've done similar work before. This will help place you nearer the top of the list and give you a better chance of being selected for the more popular shifts.
When you're successful in getting work, the agency will send you information about the department, what to do on your first day, and explain the process of working with time-sheets.
In addition to those basic aspects of the relationship, we've shared our top tips for getting the most from your locum agency below.
👉 Be proactive
The best shifts may not always be included in the agency's emails. Speak to your recruiter regularly, check in on what they have, and push them for roles that might be coming up in advance. If you're working a block of shifts, reach out to the recruiter a few weeks before its end to try and line up your next job. The more proactive you are the higher up their list you'll be, which increases your chances of being given the best opportunities.
👉 Know what you want
Always be as specific as possible with your recruiter about what shifts you're willing to accept. Before registering with an agency, answer the following questions:
- What specialties do you most want to work in?
- What other specialties are you willing to work in?
- How far are you prepared to travel?
- Are you happy to work weekends and/or nights?
- What's the minimum rate you expect to work for?
In a related article, we provide advice for making a living as a full-time locum, which covers the need to be flexible and the importance of being clear about what kinds of work you want.
👉 Be firm
You must always be firm with the recruiter about what you do and don't want. A common complaint is that agencies will push unpopular, hard-to-fill shifts on you, even if they're not relevant. If your recruiter tries to pressure you into an unsuitable role, be confident and remind them of your specific preferences.
👉 Play the field
It's perfectly acceptable to have several agencies working on your behalf, and that gives you a much better chance of finding good shifts. But be careful; you don't want too many, mainly because all the emails and calls can become overwhelming. Ideally aim for three or four that are each strong in a different specialty, or each have presences in different parts of the country.
👉 Use the Support Available
To help make this process easier for you and put the power in your hands, here at Messly we've launched a new service to help you find the best agencies for your unique interests.
Create a personal profile detailing exactly what kinds of work you're looking for, where in the country you want to work, and what rates you expect. A tailored, pre-vetted list of agencies will then ‘pitch’ to you through the system, offering you shifts matched specifically to your needs and preferences.
You simply register with the agencies you like and reject the ones you don’t. It's as quick, easy, and simple as that. You can also hide your profile if you want a break from receiving opportunities and reactivate it whenever you’re looking for more work again.
This article is part of a wider series, supporting doctors like yourself with a comprehensive set of guides to ensure your F3 year is a success. These guides cover everything from initial planning, options for moving abroad, help with finding work, and tips for making the most of the experience. Click here to visit our F3 Resource Hub to explore the full list of guides and articles.
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