Did you negotiate your salary for your current job? If not, you're not alone. Some 41 percent of people didn't, according to Salary.com. 

Many fear that haggling over the starting salary will take them out of the running for the job entirely. 

But not negotiating for a competitive salary at the start of a new job starts you off on the wrong financial footing, because every bonus and raise you get moving forward will likely be a percentage based off that starting figure.

Smart move: Don't take the first offer. You have the most leverage when they want you, but don't have you yet — and it's important to recognize and take advantage of that moment. 

People think you have to ask for what's acceptable, but you should ask yourself: What do I need to earn so that I don't have to worry about money? That's what your time is worth.

Also understand that the expectation from the other side of the table is that you will ask for more. A study from CareerBuilder shows 45 percent of employers are willing to negotiate your initial job offer, and in fact expect you to do so.

You're only letting yourself down if you don't.

Before you even begin salary negotiations with a prospective employer, you need to find out how much the job is worth – and how much your skills and experience are worth to the employer. 

Take the time to research salaries long before you even begin discussing pay. 

That way you will be prepared to make your case and land a job offer that's realistic and reasonable.

The most productive salary negotiations occur between people who realize that they have a common goal: to get the employee paid appropriately for their skills and experience. 

Negotiations needn't be adversarial, and no one has to get aggressive. 

If you're a reluctant negotiator, it might help to keep in mind that you're on the same side.

Negotiations can include all aspects of compensation, including salary, bonuses, stock options, benefits, perks, vacation time, and more.

Here are some salary negotiation tips:

1.Wait for the appropriate time. 

Start by being very patient. When interviewing for a new position, do your best not to bring up compensation until the employer makes you an offer.

Resist throwing out the first number. If you're asked what your salary requirements are, say that they are open based upon the position and the overall compensation package. 

Or tell the employer you'd like to know more about the responsibilities and the challenges of the job prior to discussing salary.

Base your salary request on data. If you're forced to give a number, provide a salary range based upon the research you've done up front. 

Use this research to inform your negotiating technique. Talk about what's appropriate for the role, based on your experience and what you have to offer. 

Resist the temptation to talk about your personal financial needs.

2.Take your time. 

Once you've received the offer, you don't need to accept (or reject) it right away. 

A simple "I need to think it over" can get you an increase in the original offer.

Consider saying no. If you're ambivalent about the position, a "no" can bring you a better offer too. 

3.But don't decline a job that you want or need. 

Be careful though, if you do definitely need that new job there's a risk that the employer may accept your declining the position and move on to the next candidate.

4.Negotiate benefits. 

Consider whether there are employee benefits and perks that might be negotiable, even if the salary isn't.