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Posted February 27, 2014

Congratulations! You’ve been offered a job. Now what? Are you going to be able to get the salary and perks you want?

While you should never bring up compensation in a job interview, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate what you want once a job is offered if you use the interview to learn as much you can about the practice. In other words, when it’s your turn for questions, ask:

  • What goals must the new hire accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days in this position?
  • What projects could the new hire help you with during the first 3 months?
  • Are there any constraints under which the new hire will have to work?

If you have the answers to these questions and have done research ahead of time on salaries in your geographic area, you’ll have a starting point for negotiating your compensation package. One place to research salaries is the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Just type the title of the position your seeking-for example, dental assistant or office manager-into the site’s search box, and you’ll get some helpful figures.

Don’t start negotiating as soon as a job is offered. Ask for a few days to think over the compensation package. You know that the people interviewing you, probably the practice’s dentists, must have liked you or you wouldn’t have been offered the job, but the person with whom you’ll be discussing compensation might not have been involved in the interview at all. This person might be meeting you for the first time, so when you return with your counteroffer, you have to make this person like you too. Be polite, professional, and confident.

iStock_000002744479XSmallSalary is not the only feature on which you can negotiate. A one-time signing bonus, insurance, start date, vacation days, parking, fitness club membership, commissions for bringing in new patients, and registration and course fees for continuing education are other items that can be negotiated. But don’t haggle over every little detail, as that can have negative consequences. Instead, signal what’s most important to you. This allows the employer to be flexible in rewarding you,

If you reach an impasse in the negotiations but this is a position you really want, ask if you can sit down together again after 90 days on the job to evaluate your performance and re-evaluate your compensation. Get that promise in writing.

If you’re asked whether or not you’ve been offered another job, don’t lie, but if you are indeed weighing two positions, remember that the one with the higher salary might not be the best fit for you. Consider factors like office culture and environment, commuting distance and cost, and job flexibility, responsibilities, and autonomy. Your happiness is most important, so choose the position that’s going to provide that.