Question: How do you go about discussing salary or handling salary negotiations? –Josephina C., Chicago

Answer: In salary negotiations, both the employer and the prospective employee want to reach the same end point: a salary that the two of you are happy with. Of course, it’s never quite that simple to reach this goal, is it? Some tips to find the sweet spot during the course of the conversation:

Assess your situation. Where are you in this point in your career? What is your current role and salary? What are your goals five, ten years down the line? It’s important to be honest with where you are before beginning a conversation surrounding compensation.

Determine a range. Don’t fixate on one figure. It pigeonholes you and makes it more difficult for you to negotiate properly.

If in the interviewing process, wait for the hiring manager to bring up the topic of salary. You don’t want it to appear as though you are only searching for a specific dollar amount in order to accept an offer.

Anticipate resistance. It is wise to consider the fact that your hiring manager is unwilling to budge on salary for a number of reasons. Anticipate resistance and prepare answers to common questions that come with it.

Lastly, look outside the box. Say the hiring manager can’t extend an offer for a dollar more. Look outside the box and consider extraneous factors such as transportation/cell phone expenses, vacation days or bonus potential.

Salary negotiations are a prickly endeavor, but worth participating in throughout the course of your career. Not participating and passively accepting each offer or raise does you a disservice, especially if you have gone above and beyond the call of duty for your dream job. Hearing the word “no” is not the worst thing that can happen—silence between both parties is!

Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.