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Some candidates may shy away from negotiating a job offer, but this is actually the best, and possibly the only, time to negotiate what you are worth. Employers generally have room to negotiate the terms of hiring, even when they say they don’t. It is sensible to negotiate terms that are flexible before you sign a letter of offer.

If your new employer has to abide by a pay grid that has been negotiated as a part of a union agreement, he or she will not be able to negotiate pay with you because that would violate the terms of collective bargaining. Hopefully, the union has already done a good job on your behalf.

Non-unionized employers do not have collective bargaining restraints, so your ability to get what you are worth can be based on your own negotiation skills.

Negotiate what you feel you are worth in terms of an hourly wage or annual salary. Know what people in your field are making so that you are competitive. Many regions have local employer survey results on salary and benefits. If your region has them, use them. If your region doesn’t have them, use those from a region close to you.

In addition to salary (and sometimes because there is limited negotiating room on salary), you can negotiate the number of weeks of vacation you get every year and when you start to accrue them, the hours that you will work every day (e.g., a compressed work week), the date that your benefits will start (i.e., waiving an enrollment waiting period), working at home one day a week instead of commuting, and so on. Another sometimes overlooked area in hiring negotiation is professional development. Are there courses, workshops, or seminars that would benefit you in your new job that the employer can send you to?

Make sure that you are happy with the terms you negotiate before signing any that are captured in your job offer letter.