Whether you’re a chef dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a recruiter looking for a job, things get a little trippy when you’re on the other side of where your profession usually takes you.

A lot of people find the concept of a job-hunting recruiter to be rather meta. And it’s not without good reason. Applying to jobs and going through the motions of interview scheduling are rather different when you know exactly what’s happening on the other side.

But hey – someone’s got to recruit the recruiters.

And why not? As a recruiter, you surely deserve to enjoy all the things you help other job-seekers find: inclusive work culture, compassionate leadership, work-life balance and great pay. After all, what good can you do for others if you’re not satisfied with your own situation?

That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide for recruiters looking for the right opportunity to set them on the fast-track of career growth. It’s all here: a collection of average recruiter salaries in major American cities, followed by seven easy-to-follow job negotiation tips that even the best recruiters might find useful.

Tip #1: Know your role.

As a recruiter, you know that each job opening is unique and deserves to be approached on its individual merits. The same is true of jobs in your domain as well.

Positions with recruiting firms and in-house openings have varying dynamics. There are even nuanced differences across the spectrum of the latter: startups, mid-size corporations, enterprise companies, public enterprise, and more.

Knowing exactly what a specific role entails and calls for makes it easier to create a justifiable ask with solid reasoning behind it.

Will you be working remote? What are your targets? What roadblocks are you likely to encounter? The answers to these questions (and many others) can and should affect the type of compensation you seek.

Tip #2: Don’t play games.

When you’re trying to fill a requisition, the last thing you want to deal with is a candidate who treats this as anything less than 100% serious business.

So when you’re applying for a position yourself, don’t play games. Be direct, honest and transparent with your recruiter so that they can do everything in their power to get you the best deal possible.

Are you looking for a 30% increase in pay? Say so. Is doubling your time off absolutely vital for you? Tell them. Is the company’s offer really not worth the effort of switching jobs? You know what to do.

Tip #3: It’s not (all) about the money.

Speaking of winning the best compensation package you can, it’s quite easy to look at the numbers on your prospective pay stub and nothing else.

The truth is that compensation deals have never been as diverse as they are today, and that means a slightly lower take-home pay could be offset by advantageous perks and benefits.

Stock options, cutting your commute by 50%, medical coverage, liberal work-from-home allowances and access to facilities make a real difference to your cost of living. So it might be worth taking a slightly lower raise if it means you don’t have to pay for a gym membership, doctor’s visits or transportation costs.

Tip #4: Come prepared.

The only thing worse than a candidate who doesn’t show up is one who does but has no idea what’s going on.

Homework is essential to negotiating and landing the right deal. Before you walk into that interview, you should have done enough research to figure out exactly what you’re worth and why. This includes labor market conditions, your cost of living and the nature of your responsibilities.

Not every opportunity is going to help you meet your financial goals, and that’s okay. But being prepared means you spend less time considering those opportunities and more time on the ones that will help you get there.

Tip #5: Think like the recruiter.

Every negotiation is going to come with its own set of challenges and stumbling blocks. Maybe there’s a clause in the contract you take issue with, or perhaps you aren’t able to provide enough data to back a specific claim up.

If at any point during the interview you feel like you’ve reached an impasse, or that the tide isn’t moving in your favor, take a minute to consider the recruiter’s position (it shouldn’t be tough).

When you realize exactly what it is that the recruiter is trying to achieve, or how far their limitations really extend, you’ll be able to direct the conversation into territory that’s more amenable to mutual compromise.

Tip #6: Be your ideal candidate.

Ask a recruiter for their worst candidate stories and you’ll hear dozens of different takes, ranging from mildly amusing to downright horrifying. But ask them for their description of the perfect candidate, and it’s fairly universal.

Most recruiters don’t want to unearth the next Superman or Elon Musk. They just want to deal with people who know how to act professionally.

That starts with showing up – on time, neatly dressed and carrying everything you’ve been asked to bring. Throw in some market research, the ability to communicate one’s thoughts effectively, and top it off with a thank-you note sent a couple of hours after the interview, and you’ve got the exact person you wish you could interview every day.

Tip #7: Know your limits.

Interviews and negotiations are a great time to gain clarity on exactly what it is that you’ll be expected to do in a new role. This gives you a chance to figure out where your limits are, and where you’ll need help.

But it’s not just restricted to your prospective duties.

One mistake many candidates make is upping the ask after it’s met, just to extract as much money as possible. When this is necessitated by a change in circumstance, it’s perfectly fair to make a revised ask with a clear explanation as to why.

But never should you push the limits if you’re just trying to see how far it can go, or if you failed to do your homework earlier.

‘Perfect’ is a matter of perspective.

There’s really no secret to a good negotiation except to do your homework, behave professionally, and let experience be your teacher. But it all means little if you walk into that discussion expecting to find perfection.

The ‘perfect’ job. The ‘perfect’ salary. The ‘perfect’ company. None of these things exist any more than the ‘perfect’ candidate does.

That’s because in order to attain perfection, you need the rest of the world to stop moving. But companies will continue to grow, technology will always evolve, the cost of living will keep rising, and people change.

Today’s ‘perfect’ is tomorrow’s ‘less-than-ideal’. Instead, focus on what’s right for you (and those around you) at this moment in time.

That’s when you’ll find the happiness that you help others discover; the happiness you deserve.