Negotiating a salary can be tricky. Here's how to make a good impression while securing a great deal.

After spending countless hours updating your resume and practicing in front of the mirror for the interview, you successfully impress the hiring manager. Now it’s time to focus on how to negotiate the best salary.

Negotiating salary and benefits is just as important as customizing your professional resume for the role and properly preparing for the interview. Your negotiating style tells an employer what kind of team member you are. While it is important to impress your new boss, it’s just as important to ensure that your new job offer will pay the bills and honor your skills and abilities.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels comfortable negotiating salary during the interview process. In fact, a survey by ZipRecruiter found that 64% of respondents said they “accepted the first salary offer they received the last time they were hired,” meaning only 36% of professionals have negotiated their salary at all.

If you find yourself shying away from the negotiating table, it’s time to overcome your fear! Take a deep breath, shake off the nerves, and apply these six simple salary negotiation tips to ensure you make a great impression and receive a fair deal.

Tip #1: Find out if it’s a firm offer or probationary status

The status you enter the company with determines your ability to negotiate higher benefits. For example, if the board of directors hires you to take on the role of sales vice president, it may be a six-month probationary agreement with little negotiating room. On the other hand, a firm job offer gives more wiggle room. Just ask the hiring manager if the company is extending a firm job offer or not.

Tip #2: Determine if there’s wiggle room

After the interview team confirms its intention to hire you and the benefits package is revealed, the first question you should ask is, “Is this negotiable?” The answer may surprise you.

If the hiring manager says that he can’t make any changes, say that it’s not an issue, but ask if there is an option to revisit the compensation in the near future. Should the answer be no, it may be a good idea to explore other job opportunities.

Tip #3: Ask about stock options

You can impress the "numbers" people on the hiring committee by asking about base pay versus total compensation. Total compensation means the deal on the table is all-inclusive, while base pay is the basic salary plus any benefits and compensation.

This is the time to ask if there’s an option to purchase stock in the company for a reduced price and to find out if the company offers common benefits like retirement plans, travel, and living stipends, professional development or training opportunities, or anything else that could help you financially. For instance, some news stations will offer a clothing stipend to on-air reporters because they are required to dress more formally. Jobs that require a lot of travel often offer a cell phone and gas stipend.

Tip #4: Be patient; don’t rush the job offer

One of the most common and unfortunate negotiation mistakes applicants make is accepting the job offer on the spot. While it is understandable that you need to feed the dog and pay the electricity bill, you can yield greater rewards if you wait to give your answer. Sometimes businesses need to fill a position immediately and will toss more benefits on the table to close the deal. However, be careful with this gamble; it could backfire.

Explain to the hiring manager that you’d like to think things over before making a decision, and ask if this job offer has an expiration date. Once you know the deadline to provide your answer, you can take the time to consider your salary negotiation strategy, find out how desperate the company is to fill the role, and demonstrate to your prospective employer that you are a professional who doesn’t rush to judgment.

#5: Sign on the dotted line

Never, ever, accept a job or offer without getting the details in writing. Your salary and benefits package should be represented in some form of a contract. If none is presented, start questioning the professionalism of the company and its management. Most companies will not hire a new team member unless he or she signs a benefits agreement. This not only protects the new hire, but the company, as well. Any company that doesn’t follow this practice could have legal issues in the future.

Tip #6: Always keep your eyes open for better opportunities

Even if you decide to accept the position and the benefits accompanying it, never turn a blind eye to other opportunities for career advancement. Some may present themselves within the organization while others may be found outside the office during a professional networking event. Treat your personal brand the same as any company would treat its consumer brand: promote, sell, and cultivate.

Not sure if you negotiating the salary you deserve? Our TopInterview coaches can help you pick up the negotiation skills you need to get what you earned.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on our sister site, TopResume.

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