[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG1IGxtG5yA?rel=0&hd=1&w=425&h=349] Negotiating compensation can be intimidating, especially if you've been out of the job market for awhile. Looking to jump in? Here's how to get ready. Returning job seekers often worry their technical skills won't justify the going market rate, or that seeking more than their last package will make them less attractive than younger, less expensive candidates. While it's true flexibility can help you land a job, don't sell yourself short. Depending on market conditions and your skills, you should shoot for ninety or ninety five percent of the going market rate. So do your homework and follow these tips to get a square deal. This might seem basic, but negotiating with confidence requires knowledge. You'll need a blend of human intelligence from local market sources - meaning people who work there - and data to come up with a targeted compensation range. Next, know your values. Notice I said "values." To negotiate effectively, you've got to recognize what you value in an employer, and what value you offer. For you, an easy commute could be worth taking three thousand dollars less in salary. For your employer, your eligibility for Medicare means less money for benefits. So think about time off, telecommuting or flextime as good trade-offs for money, depending upon what's important to you. Don't attempt to negotiate until you know a job's expectations, bonuses and benefits. If you have to name your salary, show flexibility by quoting a range. Even before you get that far, crunch the numbers. Before you start negotiating, calculate the value of each component of your compensation. If you throw out the first number, make it ten percent above your ideal salary as a starting point. Effective negotiations require give and take. So always know what concessions you're willing to make before you start. That way, you can break a stalemate by yielding when you have to.