04/02/2014 02:26 pm ET Updated Jun 02, 2014

American Money: How to Negotiate a Higher Salary

Whether you are interviewing for a new job or asking for a raise at your current place of employment, negotiating your salary is a delicate dance. And for most people, negotiating a higher salary is rarely easy and causes so much anxiety that many people forfeit negotiating all together.

This is particularly true for women. According to numerous reports, failure to negotiate results in women lagging behind their male colleagues in salaries, bonuses, promotions, and perks. Interestingly, studies reveal that women are just as good at negotiating as men. But, when it comes to negotiating for themselves, cultural and social norms present a unique set of challenges that makes the process particularly discouraging.

But, whether you or a man or woman, it's important to know your true market value and enter these conversations with confidence. Preparation is key and implementing some of the following steps can improve your chances of getting the salary you want.

Timing is Everything

One of the best opportunities to negotiate is immediately after receiving an offer for a new position. Most employers expect you to negotiate and not accept the first offer. So, be prepared to ask. But make sure your salary request is in line with your performance and experience.

If you are asking for a raise, schedule an in-person meeting with your supervisor. Your annual review may be the most appropriate time to negotiate a raise; but if not, make sure to schedule a time when you know you will have your supervisor's undivided attention.

Do Your Research

Research websites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor to gauge average salaries for your position and workload. Also, investigate the company's policy and culture around raises. This ensures that your salary expectations are competitive, that you are knowledgeable of company protocol and can enter the conversation with a solid case for why you deserve more.

Demonstrate and Document Why you Deserve a Raise

Most managers will not agree to a raise simply because you do your job well. That's why they hired you. Use your meeting with your supervisor to demonstrate -- ideally on paper -- how you have exceeded your job responsibilities; took leadership on new projects; brought in additional revenue, etc. Showcase why you are of value to your company and/or organization.

Be Prepared to Compromise

Have your bargaining chips ready. For higher pay, are you willing to work longer hours and travel more? Or, if your supervisor cannot afford to pay more but offers shorter days, the option to work remotely, etc., would that be agreeable? Being prepared to compromise will maximize your options and increase your chances of leaving the conversation satisfied.

Have an End Game

Your supervisor may not offer you a higher salary and you should have a contingency plan. Will you turn the job down or leave your place of employment? If not, thank your supervisor for their consideration; ask what can be done in the future to make a stronger case for yourself and when they estimate an appropriate time to revisit the conversation. In the interim continue being a stellar employee. Hopefully your employer will recognize your contributions in the future and, if not, you may be able to leverage your skills someplace better.

Remember, negotiating is not people's favorite thing to do but it is necessary -- to earn what your worth now and build your economic security for years to come.

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