You’ve been job hunting for months – dozens of CVs, numerous interviews, and finally, you’ve received the long-awaited job offer!

Unfortunately, it’s £7,000 less than what you need to just survive and pay the bills. The dilemma is agonising: It pays more than nothing, but you still can’t meet your daily needs.

What do you do?

The first thing you should be sure to do is Knowing Your Worth. If you don’t know your worth, you enter the salary negotiation phase from a disadvantage. Realise, too, that salary ranges differ from small company to large corporation and from public to private sectors.

Try to assess the offer objectively. Does the position require less work or stress than your former positions? Are the benefits better? Is the environment more pleasant? Try to look for benefits to the job that offset the lower salary and ask yourself if a less demanding position (or whatever it might be) fits your needs even more than money.

Next, realise that for many industries and positions, the market wage has decreased significantly due the growing pool of available labour. When there are more out of work people than there are jobs, salaries tend to go down. Evaluate your worth based upon the current market, not necessarily on what you’ve been earning for the past five years.

With these tips in mind, it’s time to negotiate. Employers rarely offer their ‘top dollar’ and then tell you to take it or leave it. Just like you, they are in the process of weighing the pros and cons. They want to get the best ‘deal’ for the money. You will obviously need to compromise. Try to determine your walk-away number. This is the bottom line, absolute minimum you can reasonably accept from an employer. It will be painful and require sacrifice on your part, but you will be able to manage. Anything below that figure will not allow you to pay for basic needs. If their offer is significantly below your walk-away number, the job or company may not be for you.

Your opening bid will be well above your walk-away figure, of course. Say your previous salary was £50,000 per year, but you recognise that the market average for a person with your qualifications is now at £42,000. You’ve determined your walk-away number is £40,000. If the potential employer has offered £39,000, it’s highly likely that not only will the final number be higher than your walk-away number, you may get closer to your old salary than you think. Begin your side of the negotiation by demonstrating a willingness to compromise.

“I really appreciate your offer, even though it is currently outside my salary range. However, I was really impressed by your company and working environment, so I would feel comfortable accepting something close to £45,900.”

If a company is stuck on a figure, try negotiating non-monetary benefits that work to enhance your lifestyle. For instance, if company starting time is 8:00am sharp, but you need to drop them off at school at that time, negotiate a later start and end time. Be creative when negotiating and think outside the box. Keep the negotiations moving.

Finally, recognise that whilst you may have to accept a significantly lower initial salary, you may be back up to your old salary level (and beyond!) in a relatively short time period. Employers are being both thrifty and conservative during this down period, but they also know what they have to do to retain valued employees.