As a recruiter, I've always tried to find innovative ways to locate and hire the best possible candidates for jobs. What makes being a travel nurse recruiter so unique is that we typically have hundreds—if not thousands—of jobs to offer our candidates. To make this task easier, I started searching for a way to share our massive database of available job openings while simultaneously driving qualified candidates in my direction.
I have no programming background but have a lot of experience working with Google Docs and building websites (since 1997). What made AppSheet so appealing is the way it's core functions are wrapped around a database. This allowed me to populate the back end with fresh information on a daily basis without releasing new updates to the app itself. The app I created allows job seekers to see job openings and then apply for those positions. In order to reach those candidates, I had to submit my app to the coveted App Store—a slightly terrifying experience! But I persevered and this is my AppSheet app creation story.
Developing My App: Learning as I Go
My first step was to find a way to organize and format our company's internal database of jobs in a way that would be easy for job-seekers to search or browse. That involved some tricky decisions about which nursing specialties to feature and how locations would be sorted. I ended up making browsable categories for the most common types of nursing units. I also created a location-based menu that allowed nurses to browse jobs by state, city, and finally, unit type.
I had the most fun creating the custom icons for the map feature. There are a lot of health-related icons already built into AppSheet, and trying to match the colors and icons to a particular kind of nursing unit was one of the more creative parts of the app building process. Critical Care jobs, for example, got a red ambulance icon, while Endoscopy jobs required a bit more discretion!
One thing that makes AppSheet so powerful is its ability to run Excel formulas right inside the app. Although I have plenty of experience with Excel, I'm not exactly a master. Fortunately, there are plenty of online communities dedicated to helping newbies like me with simple or complex questions. Putting Excel formulas inside my Google Sheets database made all the difference: instead of an app that just sort of sits there displaying jobs, my app intuitively guides candidates through the job search workflow so they can submit an application.
Once the Travel Nursing Jobs App was out of testing phase (I have to thank my husband for his help as a beta tester), I released it on the App Store and on Google Play as a white label app.
During the publishing process, there were a series of technical challenges to jump through (Android is fairly straightforward but iOS sets strict requirements for an app to appear in the App Store). But despite my complete lack of experience or education as an app developer, I was able to create developer accounts and go through the entire process on my own. Yes, it was very stressful at times, but the AppSheet team was always there to help with questions and look into the backend when something wasn't working.
My App's Market Performance
The Travel Nursing Jobs App has been on the market for nearly a year and it has consistently been the #1 staffing app for travel nursing jobs for Android and the iPhone. It's more functional and easier to use than other travel nurse apps built by major healthcare corporations—apps which serve the exact same function, but cost tens of thousands of dollars to create. In contrast, the only costs incurred with my app was the time I spent creating and deploying it—far less expensive than those apps built by healthcare companies!
In the past year, 10% of all travel nurses in the United States used the Travel Nursing Jobs App to search for their next assignment, and the nurses who have actually been hired through the app have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. In short, not only does the app do exactly what it's supposed to do, it's doing it better than the competition. Pretty impressive for a white label app created by a non-developer with no money!
Speaking of money: one of the most challenging features to add to the app was displaying a salary range for each open job. It was impossible to create thousands of different pay packages and upload them each day for each position, so I had to get creative.
A few months after the app was released, I wrote an extremely complicated Excel formula that allows me to instantly generate accurate pay ranges for each position. AppSheet's custom icon function made it possible to highlight the highest-paying jobs, which is a very popular feature for travel nurses looking to score a big paycheck while they're on the road. The Travel Nursing Jobs App is currently the only travel nurse staffing app with this feature.
The Travel Nurse Industry
Hospitals are perpetually looking for qualified nurses, and they're happy to pay staffing companies to help find them short-term help. However, over the past five years, the industry has exploded as more and more baby boomers require medical care and more Americans have health insurance and access to hospitals. This surge in hospital visits has resulted in a near-constant need for temporary staffing solutions. Travel nurses are that solution.
Healthcare staffing has undergone a major shift in the past few years. Cold calls and mass e-mails used to be the only way to find a nurse who might be interested in a job, and because travel nurse contracts are typically 13-weeks long, they are always looking for their next assignment. Facebook and other social media sites have drastically changed the nature of travel nurse recruiting: now a nurse can join a travel nursing jobs group and instantly have access to dozens of recruiters from every major staffing company.
However, the big drawback to social media recruiting is that a recruiter can only post so many jobs in one day and there's a ton of competition from other recruiters who frequent the same job boards. Recruiting apps, like the Travel Nursing Jobs App, provide a simple, easy way to let nurses see every single job, updated daily, right on their cell phones. And when nurses express interest in a position, only the app's owner receives their information. When it comes to nurse recruiting, it’s clear that mobile apps are the way of the future.
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Travis McHenry, is a former actor and U.S. Navy veteran who entered the corporate recruiting world in 2013. In addition to building apps and recruiting nurses, he also hosts a comedy podcast in his free time.