Top 5 Tips for Negotiating a Pay Package

Top 5 Tips for Negotiating a Pay Package

Written by Anna Lamberson, Travel Nurse

Here are some top tips for negotiating a pay package! Step one complete. You have found the ideal location for your next travel nursing assignment! (Read about our top destinations here). The only thing standing in your way from signing on the dotted line is knowing that you are worth more than the price point that is being offered. Knowing you’ll be receiving higher pay as a travel nurse is great, but it is still a competitive market. So make the most of your time and hard work by negotiating the highest paying travel nurse pay package that is equal to your worth as a health care provider. Here are some tips to help with your part in the negotiating.

1. Do your research ahead of time before negotiating a pay package

Before you even begin utilizing tips for negotiating a pay package with a recruiter, do your homework. This means looking at contract packages in the area you are hoping to work in. A great jumping off point here is to go over and search on Wanderly because it is free and you can easily compare a whole range of leading agencies without any commitment. Understand how a pay package is broken down to ensure you are taking home the most amount of money. Figure out what your expenses will be relative to the area you are looking to go. Basically, gain all the insight you can before negotiating a pay package so that you can present the information you have gathered and reach an agreeable pay rate for both you and your recruiter.

2. Know your Goal and your Bottom Line

Here is the next tip for negotiating a pay package. After you feel you have gathered enough information its time to sit down and set what I tend to refer to as your “Goal Rate” and your “Bottom Line Rate.” When thinking these over make sure you take into account why you are asking for that rate. For example, does the assignment take place in a high-paying area? Will you be working more than 36-40 hours a week? What is the cost of living like in that city?

Your goal rate should be what you reach for as the high-end price point you would ideally like to make. While you can expect to make higher pay for travel nursing, this would be the pay rate you are reaching to get while understanding it is probably top tier. Your bottom line rate should be the absolute minimum rate you are willing to accept for this particular assignment after factoring in all the research you had done prior. The important part is to NOT tell your recruiter this number. This is just for your frame of reference when you are in negotiations. When you are negotiating a pay package be careful what you tell your recruiter in terms of your ideal rates, because it is a business after all and your aim is to settle closer to your goal rate rather than your bottom line rate.

3. Important Negotiating Tip: Be Confident

Some nurses describe the most difficult part of the process to be showing their confidence. A good strategy to have when speaking with a recruiter is to have the information you’ve gathered prior in front of you as a quick reference. Maybe even practice saying key points you want to verbalize that are direct and forceful. Make sure to be clear and transparent about what you are looking for in a contract and pay rate. A lot of times recruiters become your friends which can be great, but don’t let that come in the way of asking for what you need out of a contract. Again, be direct and assertive.

Additionally it is a good practice to let them know that you are working with other recruiters and that you have other potentially higher offers on the table. While honest, this encourages recruiters to get creative in providing that higher pay for travel nurses and highest paying travel nurse contracts. The bottom line is that a recruiter does put in a lot of time and effort with each one of the travel nurses they work with so they really do want to provide whatever they can to have you sign a contract with them.

Side Note: Confidence

Confidence in your speech can be something that comes with time so practice is key if it is not your strongest attribute. Speak in a way that shows you are decisive in knowing what you want/need from a contract. Talk about the research you have done prior to show you are knowledgeable. If you are uncertain or uncomfortable about the information you are getting back from your recruiter tell them you need to think it over and respond back to them at another time – be cautious about feeling pressured into making decisions on the spot. Find that balance between taking time to weigh your pros and cons while being prompt to respond.

4. Be Flexible While Negotiating a Pay Package

Know your worth, but be flexible! This is why the “Goal Rate” and “Bottom Line Rate” are worth you taking the time to sit down and outline for yourself. Negotiating is about a give-and-take so you need to acknowledge that you might not check every box that adds up to your vision of the perfect contract. Keep an idea in the back of your mind (or even better, written down) of what you would be willing to give up to make this contract work and ideally negotiate a pay package worth some big money!

5. For Companies that DON’T Negotiate a Pay Package for Travel Nurses

During your search you will come across agencies that will tell you they do not negotiate. While this can be true of some, that doesn’t mean you need to cross them off your list just yet. When in discussion about an assignment, reach out to see if they are willing to offer any other type of incentive such as reimbursements for relative expenses or bonuses for contract extensions and/or completions. This is often a loophole you can use to make up for some of the money they were not able to offer in your stipends or hourly pay.

Ask for a sample pay package to review in order to see how they breakdown your pay. In some circumstances you might find that even though a company originally quoted a higher gross rate, the pay/stipends are taxed and divided differently – meaning you may make the same or even more on your net pay than you would with a different agency.

Good luck, stay confident and use these tools to go out and get the pay that you deserve as a traveling healthcare professional!

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