personal finance adviceWhether you’re interviewing for a new job or trying to renegotiate your salary with your current employer, preparation is important. You need to know what you’re worth and how to convey that to your employer.

If you do your research now and look to personal finance advice from the experts, you could wind up with a higher salary than you were first offered.

Five steps to negotiating a higher salary

1. Research salaries.

Find out what pay you can expect depending on your position, as well as what is reasonable for someone with your experience and education. Sites like Salary.com and PayScale.com can help you determine what to expect.

Don’t forget to research your market as well. For example, you can’t expect to receive a big city salary if you live in a small rural town.

2. Be ready with results.

Put together a package that outlines what you’ve accomplished in your current position. You need to be able to show your accomplishments and translate them into value for the company, so be sure to highlight tangible examples. For example, you can share information about how you led a project to successful completion, how you boosted company efficiency, or how you implemented a new program. When you can express results, you stand a better chance of negotiating a higher salary. Show—don’t tell—your value.

3. Don’t be the first to offer a number.

Try to avoid talking salary until the potential employer brings it up. You want to show that you are a team player hoping to be the right fit for the company, and not that you are simply worried about how much money you can expect to make.

Although waiting for the employer to bring up salary first will give you an idea of what to expect, you don’t have to accept the first number offered. In some cases, companies offer a salary on the low end of the pay scale in order to see if they can get you at a bargain price, so don’t be afraid to ask for a little bit more. Often, the first number thrown out is the floor, and you should counter with something higher.

4. Provide a salary range, rather than a number.

Another tactic you can employ is to use a salary range. Rather than pinpointing a hard amount, suggest a range—between $50,000 and $62,000, for example—and then ask for a salary between those two numbers.

Offering a range provides you with the chance to establish your lower limit and to give the potential employer the opportunity to pay you a little bit more. Odds are that you will be offered a salary somewhere in the middle of your range.

5. Consider non-monetary compensation.

Sometimes, there is more to compensation than money. It may make sense to accept a little bit less in terms of salary if the company is also offering, for example, a strong benefits package, a great health plan, or perks like day care or a gym membership.

In addition, generous vacation days, flexible work hours, and other policies should be considered as part of the negotiation. Think in terms of total compensation package and not just salary number.

With a little preparation and a willingness to be flexible in your compensation requirements, you can negotiate a salary that is acceptable to both you and your employer.

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance, family finance and business topics. She writes for several online and offline publications. Miranda is the co-author of Community 101: How to Grow an Online Community, and the writer behind PlantingMoneySeeds.com.