Many people find negotiating uncomfortable — especially when it comes to discussing starting salaries. Even though some have a more natural ability than others, anyone can learn the skill. Here are eight tips for preparing for salary negotiations in your next job interview.

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Many people find negotiating uncomfortable — especially when it comes to discussing starting salaries. Even though some have a more natural ability to negotiate than others, anyone can learn the skill; all it takes is a little research and some practice. Here are eight tips for preparing for those negotiations in your next job interview.

Understand the job. Make sure you fully understand the responsibilities, requirements and expectations for the position.

Learn about the company. Ensure that you’ve asked (and that you understand) how the company reviews employee performance, as well as the process for pay raises and promotions. (Note: This is a good discussion to have with the HR representative during the phone screening.)

Arm yourself with salary information. Conduct research to find out average salaries and salary ranges for similar jobs in your area, industry and geography. Try salary.com, payscale.com, indeed.com, careeronestop.org, glassdoor.com and jobsearchintelligence.com.

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Know your strengths and differentiators. What makes you special and unique from everyone else? Conduct a personal S.W.O.T. analysis to understand your differentiators and the special skills or experiences that could make you a more valuable employee. Write these down and use them as leverage to negotiate a higher starting salary.

Determine how much you’d like to make. Consider what you’ve made in your last few jobs, the results of your online salary research, and your strengths and differentiators. Given that information, decide on your target salary.

Decide on an appropriate salary range. Based on your research of similar jobs in your geography and industry, determine an appropriate salary range for the job. Your target salary should fall within this salary range.

Define your “walk-away” point. Think about the minimum salary you’re willing to accept, and then consider the reasons why you’d be unwilling to accept a lower amount. Write these reasons down, as you may need to use them during the salary negotiation.

Practice your negotiation skills. Ask a friend or family member to play the role of a hiring manager who has offered you a salary that is lower than what you want. Then practice what you’ll say and how you’ll say it to persuade the hiring manager to increase the offer.

Most hiring managers don’t automatically try to lowball salary offers, but they usually start with an amount that is lower than what they are willing to pay, because they assume the candidate will try to negotiate upward. So remember, it’s up to you to get what you want — and what you deserve.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.