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10 Tips for Negotiating a Higher Travel Nursing Salary

If you’ve ever felt shy about asking for a little more pay, you’re not alone. In fact, fewer than 4 out of 10 workers negotiate their salaries when starting a new position. Don’t be afraid to explore your options when you receive an offer from your recruiter. You’ll never know what you can get if you don’t ask! These tips can help you chart the course to effective negotiation.

1. Give yourself a pat on the back

It’s brave to negotiate — good for you. You’re advocating for yourself and your needs, which means you’re a true professional. You’re also showing you’ve got great qualities: you’re assertive, confident, and you want the best. Valuing these strengths illustrates your go-getter attitude and can set you up for success.

2. Prepare yourself

As a travel nurse, your finances are complex — sometimes even crazy complicated! Our travel nursing salary guide shows you how to put together the puzzle pieces of your full salary picture. Details like overtime pay, housing credits, and taxes make a big difference in your take-home.

When you’re considering a new job, a little research goes a long way. Different agencies will offer different perks in their packages. One might offer great bonuses while another has excellent medical benefits. By educating yourself, you can get a better sense of what’s out there and what’s reasonable to ask for.

Take into account the size and location of the hospital or clinic. It will help you understand the type of negotiation you might expect — and the possibilities.

  1. Recognize your value — and back it up

Remember that your skills, certifications, experience level, and background all affect your value in the marketplace. Keep your resume and references up to date.

Several websites can give you info and comparisons between different gigs. They’ll also give you an overall sense of your salary prospects.

  • Paysa shows you handy salary graphs.
  • PayScale can create personalized pay reports based on your experience level and the job’s location.
  • Glassdoor offers company summaries and includes reviews from former employees.

Practice the points you hope to make and imagine the questions you might be asked. Before you speak with your recruiter, review your resume (there’s a lot on there!) and your skills. You’ll want to point to specific strengths that show you’re the best fit for the job.

4. Think beyond dollars and cents

Seeing a big number on a paystub makes everybody smile. Who doesn’t love money? But quality of life matters, too. Imagine you’re offered identical pay for two identical jobs, and one’s in a city you love. Probably an easy decision!

So, consider other benefits with hard-to-qualify advantages, like workplace culture, travel distance, and career advancement opportunities. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what you value in terms of the pros and cons. It’s your choice, and that’s empowering.

5. Remember: you’re shopping, too

It can be tempting to think of your recruiter being the buyer, and your fantastic skills as being on the market. Try flipping that notion on its head by imagining yourself as the buyer. Your time is the money, and you want to get the most return from spending it.

6. Wait for it

Unless you’ve set up a call for the specific purpose of discussing salary, you’ll do best to wait until it comes up naturally. That way, when it does come up, you’ll know the ball is in your court.  

What’s more, you don’t have to discuss pay range as soon as it’s brought up. A simple “Can I get back to you later today or tomorrow?” gives you the space you need to consider all the facts. You’ll return to the table with a clear decision about how you want to negotiate.

7. See the range

Naming the exact figure you want is an okay strategy, but it can backfire. Instead, consider suggesting a broad range of salary based on your skills. To give you the best shot of succeeding, it should be comparable to the opportunities you’ve researched.

8. Answer questions with questions

Straight-forward responses to questions can limit your opportunities. If your recruiter asks whether you’re interested in housing credits, go beyond “yes” — ask what options are available.

Questions show your interest and engagement with the opportunity. Your recruiter will enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they’re doing the best they can to serve you. Plus, you’ll get more out of the conversation, too.

9. Strike the right chord — be confident, professional, and polite

See our post on effective communication for tips on how to be straightforward, clear, and positive. Confidence goes miles.

Set up a calm and private place to handle calls (even your car can work) to minimize distractions.

Remember the old saying: you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. If the conversation gets a little awkward or tense, remember — it’s not personal. It’s business. Lighten things up with a simple joke or small talk.

10. Keep in mind that negotiation is about compromise

Go in knowing the best possible outcome you want — and the “Goldilocks” option that will do just fine. Long-term, being agreeable to compromise will land you more opportunities. Negotiate effectively and you’ll make sure they’re opportunities that will keep you and your bank account happy.

Now take a deep breath and go for it. You’ve got this!

Looking for more on travel nursing salary? Check out our salary guide.

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