Merito Group is a talent acquisition firm that helps our clients the best possible candidates to fill their open positions. There are many important factors we consider when recommending candidates, including salary offers.

Negotiating salary. An undertaking that freaks out many a job seeker and one that’s ripe with potential pitfalls.

Should you always negotiate on salary? Or is it never? Or if it’s dependent on the situation, in which ones should you maybe raise your hand and say, “More, please?” (And in which instances will you either look like a jerk or, worse, risk losing the offer altogether?)

There there. It’s not always as complicated as it appears. Let’s simplify things with a few down and dirty tips on when (and how) to negotiate—and when not to.

Consider Negotiating When

1. You Have the (Written) Offer in Hand

Having been a recruiter for 10+ years, I’ve seen more than a few missteps among job seekers who start playing hardball over moolah before it’s even been established that an offer is forthcoming. Basic rule of negotiation: You have way more power when you know they want you. So if you do have an offer in your hot hands, and it’s not quite what you were anticipating, now would be a decent time to put together a thoughtful counteroffer. If you’re still waiting for that official letter? Hold your horses.

2. You Can Clearly Spell Out the Value You’re Bringing In

Here’s a very important thing to remember: Your future employers do not care how much your rent, your car payment, or your kid’s braces are costing you. They care about what you’re going to walk in their doors and deliver. So if you’ve got that offer in front of you and are ready to negotiate, you absolutely must pull together a pitch that demonstrates that you’re worth the extra cash. What value will you bring into the organization that will make the extra investment make perfect sense? Make these your negotiation points.

To read more of Jenny Foss‘ tips to navigate the terrifying process of salary negotiation, click here.