You can never underestimate the importance of having a plan. By that I mean doing some simple salary calculations so you go into an interview with a range in mind. Negotiating salary during the interview process can be very overwhelming. You don’t want to sound greedy or too high on yourself; but on the flip side of that coin, you don’t want to be too meek to ask for what you’re worth. Many interviewees also don’t like the idea of starting off on the wrong foot with a potential new employer, and the thought of confrontation leads them to accept whatever offer the company gives.

Sure, negotiating a salary can be uncomfortable, however, if you take less than you think you’re worth, you’ll be unfulfilled financially won’t stick with your new job for the long-term. I once made this mistake myself, when I took a job in Denver for a really low salary. Instead of negotiating for what I thought I was worth, I stuck it out until I had to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney because I was so miserable. I could have avoided bad blood between myself and my employer by having a salary range in mind and demanding to be paid what my skills were worth.

To help you avoid making the same mistake I made, go into any job interview with a salary calculation in mind and follow these 8 steps to negotiate the salary that you deserve:

1. Have a number in mind

Going into any interview setting, you must know that the interviewer will ask you what your salary expectations are. So be prepared with a salary range before entering the interview room. Do this by researching the average salary of similar positions in your area. Don’t forget to figure in your education and qualifications as well. Also, keep in mind that if you ask for a higher salary, you will almost always get a bit more money than what the employer originally offered if they think you have the experience and skills to back it up.

2. Let the employer bring up the topic of salary

Eventually the interview will lead into discussions on salary. However, my negotiation tactic is to let the interviewer provide a range before you offer up an expected amount. This way, you’re working within the employers presumed budget and not firing so far out of the ballpark that they aren’t interested in you anymore.

3. Always negotiate within a range

This way you have a high and low end for the employer to work with. Don’t under value yourself, but providing a range shows that you are willing to compromise and negotiate from there.

4. Support your expected salary with an explanation

Explain to the interviewer that you came to the salary calculation based on the skills and value you will bring to the company in this position. For example, talk about your education, skills, expertise, accomplishments in the profession, and your years on the job.

5. Bonuses and holidays are also up for negotiation

If the money you’re offered is on the low end, but you see a lot of promise in the company, don’t be afraid to do a little more negotiating as far as holidays and benefits. Many newer companies offer lower salaries, but are willing to top it off with additional holidays or bonuses until they can afford to pay employees more money. Remember, bonuses and holidays can add another 40 percent to a basic salary and you can still negotiate as far as lieu days, reduced hours, and the option to work from home.

6. Remain amicable

Negotiating doesn’t give you a right to be defensive and abrupt. Remember, you are still making an impression on a potential new employer so remaining firm with the salary that want, but displaying some flexibility will show the interviewer that you are a team player.

More salary tips at Show Me the Money! 4 Things to Remember about $$ and Job Search.

Colleen Harding is a freelance writer and guest blogger who specializes on writing about law. Her passion for the legal realm started with a job as a Legal Aid and continued when she accepted a role as a Human Resources Coordinator for a mid-sized U.S. manufacturing company.
Image credit Eric May

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