unhappy businessmanNo matter how passionate you feel about the position you are applying for, or how much you want a job, the topic of salary is going to be an important aspect of the hiring process. Though not always the biggest factor when choosing a career, salary is extremely important—and you’re going to want to ensure that the salary you earn is appropriate for your experience and the amount of work that you will be doing.

You may be hoping that you will walk into the interview room, the recruiter will immediately love you, and he or she will offer you a huge salary right off the bat. Unfortunately, it very rarely works that way. Instead, you will go into the interview, and even if the person does love you, you will likely still have to wait around for a little while to hear that you been offered the position. And before you make any final decisions, you will need to hear about the salary, which isn’t always an amount that you would like to hear.

So how do you begin a salary negotiation conversation with a potential employer? Here are some tips for getting the discussion moving in your direction:

If they are pushing you to name a salary that you would like but you aren’t sure what they expect to hear, don’t hesitate to say something along the lines of “I will need more details about the job and the total benefits package before I can make a projection.”

If the interviewer names an expected salary that sounds a bit low for you, inquire if there is any flexibility. This will give you an idea of their thoughts on salary and can provide you with a transition into a discussion about increasing the amount. An article on Monster.com offers great questions to ask after when negotiating a salary offer. Some include:

“Thanks — is this a firm job offer?”

“Is this negotiable?”

“Is this base only?”

If the recruiter starts talking about vague concepts, such as stock options, don’t hesitate to tell him or her that while that sounds great, you will need a present dollar value of the entire compensation package in order to feel truly confident about taking the position.

A powerful phrase to use when you are negotiating salary based on an initial amount that strikes you as a bit low is “I’m a little disappointed.” Use it as a transition into asking how the amount can be negotiated to a more acceptable amount. It also softens the negativity as opposed to just saying that you don’t like the amount.

Another great phrase to use is “That seems like a good starting place.” This phrase introduces negotiations for a higher range or allows you to discuss details, such as raises, incentives, and bonuses. U.S. News & World report’s “5 Phrases that Will Get You a Higher Salary” lists both these phrases in its five that it says can earn you an extra $5,000, $10,000 or more.

Establish at this early stage that you expect a review after three months. This can help you get through roadblocks in your negotiations and establish a point where you can expect a raise.

If you are able to negotiate a more desirable compensation package, make sure that you get all of the details in writing so that there is no question later.

Remember, if you don’t take the time to ask for a higher salary, the answer is definitely going to be no. It may be awkward, but it’s better to try and get turned down then it is to just accept a less than satisfying amount and never know if you may have been able to get more.

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