Let’s be honest-job searching is extremely stressful. The resume tweaks, applications and interviews are just the beginning. Once you’ve received an offer, the pressure is on to negotiate the best compensation package possible, and for many, talking about money is extremely uncomfortable. According to a 2016 Glassdoor Salary Negotiation Insights Survey, nearly three in five U.S. employees accepted the first package they were offered with no negotiation. More alarming-68% of female respondents did not negotiate salary vs. 52% of the male respondents.

 “I was shocked to find that there is always room for an increase of at least 10%” says former corporate recruiter Tina Gojun. “My female applicants were often hesitant to push back, fearing they would be seen as greedy. It is important to be your own advocate, and equally important to be confident and well informed when negotiating.”

Like others, I find the negotiation process uncomfortable. At the same time, it’s important to not have “buyer’s remorse” with would’ve, could’ve, should’ve thoughts. Therefore, it always come down to the facts for me. The facts have always helped me determine what’s great, what’s good and when to walk away.

Here are some tools of the trade that I stand by when it’s time for negotiation.

Do your homework 

Before even considering a number, visit sites like payscale and glass door-they’ll give you averages based on your experience level and location. Speaking of location, if you are moving to a new state or country, be sure to research the cost of living. You can live very comfortably on $75,000 in Arkansas, but in New York or Boston, you may just be getting by.

“The biggest mistake a candidate can make in the negotiating process is having tunnel vision and only looking at their base salary” Says Dave Aronofsky, Senior Technical Recruiter at Kore1. “State by state taxation laws should be as important as any other factor in accepting a role.” Aronofsky suggests special attention should be paid to the following factors:

  • If relocation is involved, is there a state income tax, and how much? What are the different brackets?
  • How are bonuses paid and taxed?
  • How does the cost of living, rental and property tax compare to their current situation?
  • Can I keep the rest of my relocation package/bonus if I don’t use it all in the move?

Your Salary is just the beginning  

While negotiating your salary is important, don’t lose sight of the total compensation package. Depending on industry or specific companies, signing bonuses, performance-based awards, stock options and company equity are all important factors to supplementing your income. Healthcare benefits vary significantly from company to company.  Overtime earnings, retirement matching programs and payment for unused vacation days are also something remember.

“When I accepted my job at a national insurance company I was so impressed with the initial salary I didn’t even consider discussing overtime pay. After a flurry of layoffs and departmental restructuring, I was carrying the load of four agents and working close to 70 hours a week. I wish I had the foresight to negotiate overtime pay then, and it was definitely a consideration when accepting my most recent position” says Jennifer Knox, Production Manager at a global aerospace production company.

 Think beyond the paycheck  

Office culture, work-life balance and opportunities for growth are equally important as the number in your paycheck. If you need to work from home on a particular day, or, if it is important that you be at your child’s game every Friday-mention that up front.

Lauren Marquis, Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations at Wheelock College in Boston has found this to be a struggle in her current job search. “I have two young children under the age of six and currently enjoy a fairy flexible schedule that allows me to be a present mother and successful employee” says Marquis. “My school is merging with another large university in Boston this year and as I explore my career options, I’m finding that similar flexibility is hard to come by, which is extremely frustrating.”

Seek Opportunities for Growth  

To me, an important perk is executive coaching. This is a win-win for you and your new employer as it provides the opportunity for personal growth and professional success within the organization. Tuition reimbursement, leadership programs and access to industry events, networking summits are also ways to help you stay current with your industry or function.

The Bottom Line

After a long job search, it’s more than understandable that you just want to accept and get started, but it is important you do your homework to start with the right foot to maintain your work-life balance and accelerate your career on the table.  Your prospective employer wants you to begin a new chapter in your career journey with 100% commitment and motivation so that all parties can be successful.

What experiences have you had in the negotiation process? What other helpful tips do you have to share?