1. Before a job interview, think of your dream salary and practice saying that number out loud in front of a mirror. "If you rehearse asking for what you want, there's less chance you'll chicken out and settle for something lower," says Thomas.
2. During the interview, delay stating your salary number. "You want to dazzle them before you talk compensation," says Thomas. If the interviewer tries to pin you down, say, "Why don't we hold off on talking about that until you decide if I'm right for the job?"
3. Make the interviewer give a number first. "Knowing their suggested salary gives you negotiating power. Otherwise, you risk your number being lower than what they had in mind," says Thomas. Once your interviewer names a number, resist the urge to accept. Always ask for more-but in a friendly manner to show you want to reach an agreement.
4. After you arrive at a salary that sounds good to you, use a technique called "nibbling" to close the deal. "This is when you tell them, 'If you throw in an extra week of vacation [or tuition reimbursement, flex time, or other perks], I think we'll have a deal.' By that point, the other side is so eager to close, they're almost guaranteed to give you the little extra," says Thomas.
5. Ask about the possibility of a "signing bonus." Employers might be able to give you money up front more easily than they can raise your salary, because bonus money often comes out of a company's recruiting budget, which is separate from its compensation budget.