How do I negotiate my salary?

I just received a pretty sweet job offer and the recruiter said to expect a call from my future boss to “discuss my compensation.”  I’ve done some on-line research and the wage range for similar positions is pretty big. How do I know if the offer I get is a good one? Do I even get to negotiate this or do I just take what they offer?
— Salary Rookie

You always get to negotiate, just make sure you do it in a way that feels more collaborative and less antagonistic (we should all have our own Jerry Maguire so we could avoid this stuff).  Keep in mind your future boss does this all the time AND they’re the decision maker, so go in knowing they have the upper hand.  It’s best to have a minimum number in mind before the conversation begins, but ask your new manager to say the number first (“What’s the suggested starting salary?”).  Whoever says the number first loses. You want to know what they’re thinking before you let them know what you’re thinking.  Be prepared for lots of “We consider the WHOLE compensation package when targeting salary levels” statements.  But stick to salary as your “key benefit” since you can’t eat your unvested stock options. Use cost of living, competitive employment conditions, and excellent skillset as reasons for your counter.  If the opening number is close, go for a small counter (or accept as is).  If the opening number is far from your minimum, be candid about that (“Hmm. That salary is a lot less than my research indicated.”).  Come back with your minimum (don’t waste a lot of haggle time when you’re far apart) and gauge reaction.  If they balk, you may want to re-consider accepting.  If they move to your target, seal the deal.  

Good luck,

Bossy Skirt