You've aced your big interview, impressed your would-be boss and now your potential employer wants to talk compensation.
Negotiating a salary can be tricky, you don't want to sell yourself short, but you also don't want to eliminate any talks with naming too high of a number.
Here are expert tips for how to navigate the perilous waters of salary negotiation.
Do your homework
Job seekers should always search online to determine the salaries similar employers are paying workers in comparable positions. Steven Rothberg, president and founder of CollegeRecruiter.com, recommends checking sites such as Salary.com or Glassdoor.com.
Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark Hire, a site that couples videos and video interviewing with traditional online job boards, recommends writing down your dream salary, your settling salary and an unacceptable salary. "This will give you a concrete idea when negotiating."
Don't initiate salary talk
Rothberg advises working to get the employer to make the first offer.
"That will establish a floor as you know that you won't get paid less than what they've offered," he says. "If you go first, you may mention a salary below what they would have offered. Whoever goes first loses."
Tolan recommends candidates avoid mentioning a specific salary request early in the application process unless they're directly asked.
"If there is no requirement to divulge salary information, it's best to steer clear," he says. "This is a delicate topic and one better to discuss closer to accepting a final job offer."
Give a range and don't mention past compensation
When asked about salary requirements, candidates should respond using a range, not a firm number, advises Karen Evans, director of experimental learning and career development at Albright College in Reading, Pa. She suggests using a response such as, "Based upon my research of this career and location, along with the education and experience that I bring to the position, the range that I am seeking is $X to $X."
Rothberg stresses you should never reveal what your salary at previous jobs. "It isn't relevant as you will be doing different work for a different employer. Your new employer should be willing to pay you based upon the value you deliver to them, not the value you delivered to your previous employer."
Don't be afraid to counter
If the employer makes an offer that does not seem fair, don't hesitate to negotiate. However, be sure to engage in this process before you accept the job.
"Once you have the job offer and before you accept the job you have the maximum leverage," says Rothberg, who adds you lose negotiating power as soon as you accept the position. "Negotiate now and do it in writing immediately. Promises of future bonuses, raises, stock options and reviews may be well intended but often have a way of being delayed or even never happening."
Tolan says candidates should avoid getting defensive during negotiations, stressing you should "make sure you keep your cool." If you've gotten to this stage in the hiring process, there's a reason - the employer likes you and this is a workplace at which you can see yourself excelling, he says. Instead of saying something negative about the salary, "focus on what value you can bring to their organization."