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For many veterans and transitioning servicemembers, salary negotiation is an unfamiliar step in the hiring process.

Because every organization is different and many factors influence a salary offer, there is no single correct approach to salary negotiation. However, there are a few common tips to keep in mind. Use these methods to guide your salary discussions with employers, recruiters, and hiring managers:

DO establish your value early.

Before discussing salary, it is important to demonstrate your value and show why you are a good fit for the organization. Think of the process like visiting a car dealership. A good salesperson starts by demonstrating why you would want to purchase the car before they talk about price. They want you to know what you are getting before you decide to make a financial commitment.

The same idea can be applied in the hiring process. You are selling your skills, knowledge, abilities, and potential to the organization, so it is essential to demonstrate your value early in the conversations.

DON’T discuss salary right away.

It is tempting to open your conversations with potential employers by discussing the salary range for the role, but there are several advantages to waiting, if possible.

As previously noted, it is important to establish the value you bring to an organization before you talk about salary. The better you can demonstrate your potential impact, the more credibility you have when negotiating your salary.

In addition, waiting to discuss the specifics of a salary offer gives you more negotiating power. Most organizations will interview dozens of people for an open role. By the time you receive an offer, many employees have contributed significant time and effort to the process. At this point, the hiring team would likely rather negotiate with you than restart the interviewing and hiring process with someone else.

Keep your expectations realistic. If there is room to negotiate, it is often within a range of 10-20 percent.

DO start the process prepared.

Research salary ranges on Glassdoor and LinkedIn for roles you are seeking, but keep in mind that every organization is different. Typically, larger organizations have a tighter negotiation window for each role, and often the person interviewing candidates has less influence over the compensation. In a smaller organization, there may be more room to negotiate as the role will have a bigger impact on the organization.

Sometimes an organization wants to know your desired salary early in the application or interview process. Be ready to answer this question without giving up your negotiating power. Here is a good example: “I am trying to maintain or improve my current standard of living. I’ve done some research and I believe the salary range for this role lines up with my expectations.”

DON’T forget about benefits.

When negotiating and considering salary offers, transitioning servicemembers and veterans often overlook health and retirement benefits. Ensure you are calculating these costs and benefits into your compensation expectations, because they could drastically change your bottom line.

The cost and quality of healthcare benefits varies greatly by organization, so ensure you ask about the benefits package before advancing to the final offer stage. It is perfectly acceptable to ask about benefits once you advance past the first interview. Most organizations will be happy to provide an overview.

When considering offers from multiple organizations, make sure you compare their benefits. There are many scenarios where health and retirement benefits can make up for a slightly lower salary offer.

DO make a good impression.

You will have many interactions with hiring managers, recruiters, or interviewers before you make it to the salary negotiation stage of the hiring process. Make a good impression along the way.

At the end of your first interview, ensure that you demonstrated your value in a way that meets the organization’s needs. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, answer with something like this: “Thank you for your time today. Is there anything we discussed that would stop me from moving forward in the process? I think I am a great fit for this role, and I am very interested in the opportunity. I am happy to clarify anything I missed.”

When you get to the offer stage, make clear, specific requests. Often, the person interviewing you and extending your offer will need approval to negotiate, so make it easy for them to advocate on your behalf through their chain of command.

Also, be transparent if you are considering other offers. You can certainly leverage an offer with other organizations, but be transparent, honest, and realistic with your requests.

Take the next step in your post-military career here.

Justin Henderson is senior vice president of sales at RecruitMilitary and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. This article was sponsored by RecruitMilitary.

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