Quote from WanderingVee
Does anyone have tips on how to negotiate on your contract? What portions of the contract are the most negotiable (e.g. base rate, OT rate, housing stipend)? Are you supposed to tell recruiters up front "I'm looking for x amount as a weekly take home"?
Hi WV. I'm going to start by agreeing with Argo: shopping around is your best bet. That cuts right to the chase, how much you are going to make without one iota of negotiation. Just like you shop best price for anything else without negotiation and you will learn what your fair market value is in a given market at a specific time for your specialty and experience.
Second point, you don't have a lot of value to either an agency or hospital at the moment. You need proven experience as a traveler so they know you can adapt quickly, hit the ground running, and are not as big a risk to bail. So forget about chasing money for your first assignment. Instead, you are looking for a traveler friendly assignment well within your skillset. And at least one good recruiter on the same page, putting your needs first.
Third point, Chris mentioned a gross profit margin. This is what an agency needs overall to cover their costs (recruiters and marketing and offices don't come cheap), and make some net profit. But you don't care (any more than what Walmart pays for stuff you buy there). Some agencies may work on a higher gross profit margin (meaning they pay you less of the bill rate), but they may have higher bill rate assignments. What matters is what you get to keep, and the only way to find out is to shop around.
That said, that same gross profit margin means your portion of the pie is relatively fixed. Easy enough to negotiate if you simply want to shift say to a lower base rate and a higher housing stipend (actually many agencies won't do that, but smaller agencies will). That is zero sum negotiating, not costing the agency a cent, just shifting how they cut up your portion of the pie.
Yes, with experience, you can demand more pay. Argo is a very experienced nurse with extensive management and proven travel experience in a very hot specialty. He can demand more, and an agency will still love to have such a valuable traveler to send to valued clients even if their margin is lower. Good business. Hopefully you will be in such a position some day.
So there is an article specifically on how to negotiate a travel contract with an agency. You can find it online at PanTravelers. It is behind a pay wall, I believe that annual membership is either $60 or $65 dollars. I wouldn't pay that now, you don't need it. But if it does raise your pay by even $1 an hour, that is $2,000 annually.
There is a free option that gives you access to about 80% of the content, which includes everything a first time traveler needs to know. That includes a calculator that will help you with agency offers and boil them down to a single number you can get. Quotes are impossible to compare directly without a lot of math and the calculator helps a bunch.