Getting any job offer is an exciting time. A new job can change your life and your circumstances. Whether it’s your first job out of college, your first management position, or your first executive role, you’re entitled to be excited. However, the process isn’t completed yet.

Negotiating your salary and benefits is important. It’s also very lucrative.

At no other time in your life can you earn so much for so little time. A few minutes of your time could lead to higher salaries for the rest of your life!

Negotiate wisely and effectively:

1. Take a hard look at the offer. Ensure that you completely understand it. Insist on a written offer. It’s okay to take a couple of days to review the offer. Spend the time needed to make a wise decision and clarify any confusing points.

2. Compare your salary. A little research will tell you all you need to know. Consider your job title, geographic area, and industry. For example, a Quality Manager in the furniture industry in Kansas probably pays less than a Quality Manager position in the pharmaceutical industry in New York City.

3. Consider the other benefits. Vacation and sick leave, 401(k) matching, life insurance, medical insurance, maternity/paternity leave, and bonus structure are just a few examples. Determine what’s most important to you.

* Great insurance and paternity leave might be critical factors in your job search. Someone else might be enchanted by the prospect of driving a company-provided car.

4. Remain likable. This is the first step in your negotiations. Remaining likable can be challenging under the circumstances. You run the risk of upsetting your potential employer and boss. Being too assertive can have disastrous results in the long-term.

* Stand up for yourself, but not at the risk of alienating anyone.

5. Be able to justify your requests. It’s not very effective to state, “I’d like another $10,000 per year.” A more effective request might be, “Similar positions in the city are paying $10,000 more. Would you be able to match that?” If you cannot justify your requests, you may appear unreasonable. No one wants to work with someone considered unreasonable.

* Bring your proof with you to the negotiations. Back up your claims with real facts. Have a reasonable explanation for all of your requests.

6. Understand the situation. In spite of being likeable and providing evidence to support your requests, the other person’s hands may be tied. There’s a limit to how much can be provided for a particular position. There may be constraints beyond your awareness.

* Ask yourself what the company really needs. What are they trying to accomplish by filling this position? How difficult would it be for them to find someone else? How valuable are you to them?

7. Always remember that a job offer is more than just a salary. The other benefits, work environment, and coworkers are also important. Avoid focusing on just the salary number.

8. Have integrity. It’s easy to fall into the trap of posturing, or claiming you have another offer when you really don’t. These tactics can easily backfire and put you back on the street looking for another position.

* Accept the position if all your requests are met. It would be a huge mistake, and unethical, to up the ante and increase your demands.

* If the position and original offer are acceptable to you, you might consider not negotiating at all.

Remember that the perfect negotiation is of little consolation if the job isn’t a good fit. Understand the average salary and benefits for your prospective job title within that industry. Go into the negotiations armed with relevant data and ensure that you’re able to justify your requests. This advance preparation will pay off for you.