Bird in Hand

In a Turbulent Traveler Market, Taking an Extension is the Wise “Bird in Hand” Strategy

The age-old saying that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is a simplistic way of teaching the lesson that it is better to hold onto something you have rather than take the risk of getting something better – which may ultimately lead to having nothing at all. 

It’s a dilemma facing thousands of travel nurses and health care professionals right now as the market for travel assignments begins to constrict while at the same time pay rates are swiftly falling to pre-COVID levels. Travelers are facing contract cancellations and rate decreases – sometimes multiple decreases during the life of a 13-week contract – at a dizzying pace right now as hospitals scale back staffing and crisis pay as COVID and the Omicron variant drift away.

Enter in one of the favorite words in the life of a dedicated traveler: Extension.

Right now, taking an extension is the way to go for travelers if the opportunity to do so presents itself – even if it is at a reduced rate or perhaps even with a reduction in guaranteed hours or a less attractive schedule. The reason why is pretty simple: a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. It’s hard to make money if you are sitting on the sidelines hoping for a “return of crisis rates” or consistently only want the “top paying jobs” and are waiting weeks – even months – without a steady income. Not only that, but creating multiple-month long gaps in a resume is never the optimal move. 

Market corrections happen in all aspects of employment and life and the traveling health care professional market is no different as in recent months we have begun to see rates dropping at a steady pace and job openings – while still plentiful – dropping as well. At CrossMed, we are finding that travelers have to apply for 3 or 5 times as many jobs in order to secure an offer for an assignment. That’s simply the market right now.

So, if as a traveler you are on an assignment, your best bet for securing a contract for the summer months would be to do whatever you can to get an extension. Talk to your recruiter about it. Talk to your manager about it. Talk to your therapist about. Talk to everyone about it!

If an extension isn’t available, be prepared to expand your comfort zone geographically and drop your expectations financially (at least in the short term during this market correction) if you want to keep working as a traveler this summer. Most importantly, have a heart-to-heart with your recruiter about the right strategy for you and your life. But, right now, get that extension in hand if at all possible, because it is worth much more than those two jobs you saw on social media – which are probably already closed anyways. 

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