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. And 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, an international poll conducted by Monster found that less than one in five respondents (19 percent) are very comfortable with negotiating their salary upon accepting a job offer. And almost twice as many respondents (36 percent) answered that they are "not comfortable at all" with salary negotiation attempts.

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.

Salary Negotiation 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.

Salary Negotiation 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.

Salary Negotiation 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.

Salary Negotiation 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.

Salary Negotiation Tip #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.

Salary Negotiation 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.

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