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Tips for salary negotiation depending on your career level

Written on Aug 12, 2021

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager  

Although the prospect of negotiating salary can make some professionals cringe, it’s a crucial skill to develop.   

“A survey was done by the Society of Human Resource Managers and four out of five employers said they are willing to negotiate compensation,” said Kris McGuigan, CEO and founder of career services firm Professional Courage. “It’s actually an expected part of the process. And that doesn't change just because we're in a difficult economy.”  

Although there are overall best practices to follow during salary negotiations, differences can arise depending on career level. For entry-level candidates researching salary averages for a role in a specific geographic region is crucial, as they don’t typically have as much experience to reference during the discussion.  


“A newer job seeker is more likely to rely on the position value in the marketplace, because they don't have as much evidence of their individual value at that point,” McGuigan said.  

Once a professional has gained some years of experience, they can come to the negotiation with supporting facts and figures of how they’ve improved a company’s bottom line or contributed to its mission.  

“They can speak to some of those specific accomplishments of meeting tight deadlines, managing projects, increasing sales, lead generation and solid contributions,” McGuigan said.  

This advice applies to those in senior-level roles as well, but in a broader capacity. Senior-level positions are often guiding teams through complex projects and responsible for moving the needle on key initiatives while also putting out fires. Senior professionals need to show they can handle juggling all of this while achieving the company’s goals.   

“Your ability to come forward and say ‘These are the different accomplishments I've had and the impact that they have on this organization,’ starts to carry more weight,” McGuigan said.  

While negotiations can seem scary, McGuigan said view it as an opportunity to improve your career long term.    

“Don't take the first offer,” she said. “Go ahead and engage in that negotiation and see it as an opportunity to learn and strengthen that muscle.”  

Hear more tips from McGuigan on salary negotiation such as common mistakes to avoid and how to calm nerves in this podcast episode