So. You’ve aced the interviews and been offered a job. You’re almost ready to advance your career in a new position. But before you sign an employment agreement, you still need to talk about your salary.

Whether you’re having a review, getting a promotion or you’re entering into a completely new position with a new company, your salary is probably one of your biggest motivators. When you feel like you’re properly compensated for your work, you probably feel happier on the job.

Unfortunately, not everyone tries to negotiate a salary that works best for them. Asking for more money can be scary, but undervaluing yourself and your work can be even worse.

Knowing how to negotiate your salary is the best way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. To prepare for your next salary negotiation, here are a few steps you can take.

1. Do Your Research

If you’re about to ask for a larger salary, you need to know whether or not you’re being realistic. While you may believe you’re worth the amount you’re searching for, you need to know that it’s within the industry standards for a similar job.

Look online for expected ranges for the position you’re considering. If you can’t find information online, pick up the phone and talk to some recruiters. Develop a salary range that you would be comfortable considering.

2. Select a Specific Number

Don’t go into a negotiation with only a salary range. If you don’t appear confident in the salary you’re asking for, the employer may not believe you’re worth that amount.

Choose an actual number somewhere towards the top of your determined salary range. If you select an exact number rather than a rounded number, you’ll show the hiring manager that you’ve truly thought about how much you’d like to get paid.

3. Have a “Walk Away” Point

Your “walk away” point should be the lowest salary that you’d be willing to take. By thinking about this number before you walk into a negotiation, you won’t need to take the time to think about it while your potential employer is waiting for you.

Your walk away point may be determined based on your cost of living, financial need or just because you know that your work is worth more than that. While it won’t be easy to turn down a job offer, taking a salary well below what you know you need will only hurt you in the long run.

4. Write Down Talking Points

When asking for a bump in your salary, you’re going to need to have a few reasons that explain why you deserve it. But when you get nervous, you may be likely to forget the points you want to make.

Save yourself the stress by creating a one-page sheet that outlines all the reasons you deserve a raise or a higher salary. If you already work at the company, you may want to include some points about specific projects you’ve assisted on and how your performance helped. If you’re interviewing with a new company, talking points about accomplishments, awards or certifications will do.

5. Get Comfortable

The more you practice what you want to say, the more comfortable you will be when the time comes to actually talk with your boss or hiring manager. Spend some time getting familiar with the points you want to make and the conversation you’d like to have.

Writing down your talking points is a great place to begin. You will also want to rehearse the conversation aloud a few times. If you have a friend or family member willing to sit with you, talking with another individual through the main points can be very helpful.

6. Carry Yourself With Confidence

Confidence is key when you’re asking for a higher salary. Immediately before going into your meeting, you’ll want to take a few moments to breathe deeply and practice your power stance, which exudes confidence.

When you’re ready to walk into your boss’s office or your meeting, keep your head held high and a smile on your face. Stay positive and approachable, but also be determined.

7. Lead With Your Accomplishments

Instead of jumping headfirst into the conversation and asking for more money, build up the conversation by talking about your accomplishments. Move the conversation forward by talking about what you would be able to do for the company if you were compensated better.

When your employer decides to boost your salary, they’re doing so to get a return. If they can’t see the value in giving you more money, they’re not likely to agree to your terms. Instead of assuming they can see the value, don’t be afraid to spell it out for them.

8. Don’t Be Demanding

While you want to be confident in asking for a higher salary, you don’t want to come across as demanding. Instead of only stating that you believe you need a raise, open the room for conversation about why your boss may feel like you do or don’t deserve more money.

This is especially true if you are negotiating a starting salary. While most employers expect you to negotiate a little during the interview process, seeming too pushy can actually prevent you from closing the deal. If you come across like you may be a difficult employee, they may retract their offer and give it to someone else.

9. Get a Number on the Table First

When negotiating a salary, you want to be the one to start the negotiation. The first number discussed will act as the jumping-off point for the entire conversation, so if it begins too low, you may not be able to raise it to the salary you’re hoping for.

This being said, always use the top number in your range as your opening salvo. Because you and the employer will probably settle somewhere below the initial offer, you won’t be able to raise your request after the negotiation begins.

10. Keep Your Personal Needs Out of it

If you’re looking for a higher salary, it probably has something to do with higher living expenses or wanting more financial freedom. While these are valid reasons for wanting a raise, they probably won’t tempt your boss into giving you a higher salary.

Don’t use personal financial needs to negotiate. Rather than talking about how you need more money, explain why you deserve more money. Stick to things like your achievements or advancements within the company, or things you’ve accomplished during your career.

11. Rank Your Requests

If you’re negotiating more than just your salary, you’ll want to focus primarily on the one that’s most important to you. In most cases, this will be your salary, but you may also want to negotiate the terms of your benefits or vacation time.

When listing your counter offer, do so by including the most important items first and the least important items last. This will give your boss or the hiring manager a clear indication of where your priorities lie and will be able to better negotiate terms you’re happy with.

12. Give Yourself Time to Think

If you lay a number on the table and your boss gives you a counter, don’t feel like you need to jump at the offer before it disappears. While you may be scared that the number will drop as time ticks away, the negotiation process is meant to take time. You don’t want to accept an offer you’re unhappy with just because you felt pressured to answer.

Whether or not you agree with the number provided, take at least a few seconds to think it through. Hesitation can ensure you know what you’re agreeing to, but may also make the other individual a little nervous, putting you at an advantage if you want to counter.

13. Listen Before You Speak

When you’re talking about needing a raise or a higher salary, you may become wrapped up in what you’re saying without really listening to what your employer is telling you. Before you jump to further explain why you believe you deserve a salary boost, look for clues as to why your boss may be hesitant.

In some situations, the company simply doesn’t have the money to give you a salary bump. If it isn’t in the budget, negotiating for more money will probably get you nowhere. However, if you listen to what your employer is saying, you may be able to negotiate for other benefits, such as more vacation time or remote working opportunities.

14. Avoid Threats

You may feel tempted to tell your employer that you’re leaving if you don’t get the raise. But while you may think this will scare them into giving you the money you’re after, it actually may reflect badly on you.

Companies want to invest in people that want to work for them. If you demonstrate that money is your sole priority, they’re not likely to ever give you a boost in salary. Because many recruiters, interviewers and managers have networks of similar individuals, it may also get around that you’re a difficult employee.

15. Don’t Give Up

Negotiating a salary is something that you will probably do many times during your career. Until you get used to the process, you’ll always be nervous about talking numbers.

Instead of panicking over the thought of a negotiation, accept it with open arms. Continue to practice negotiating whenever you can, and soon you’ll be a master at the skill.

Don’t let the fear of negotiating keep you from getting the salary you think you deserve. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way toward becoming a negotiation master. Remember: do your research, practice and carry yourself with confidence.

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Published by Sarah Landrum

Millennial career expert Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career and lifestyle blog for millennials seeking career happiness and success.