Feb 6 2015
Property owners who want to sell usually have a figure in mind that they plan to ask for their property. That’s their asking price. However, savvy property owners know that asking price and selling price can be two very different numbers. What the market will bear overall and what their property offers that gives it a distinct advantage in the marketplace can bring the two prices quite close together or drive them miles apart.
The same is true for you as an executive seeking a new position. What you feel you should get for compensation and what you actually will get could bear little resemblance to each other. So how do you determine what you’re really “worth” and how can you secure that compensation level for your next job?
How Much are You Really Worth?
This is somewhat of a two-part question. First, you need an idea of where your experience and other qualifications fit in the general marketplace. Then you need to determine the challenges that could stand in your way and the factors that might give you an edge—that is, push you toward the high end of the range.
Three Challenges You Might Face
- A crowded job market: At the best of times, fewer opportunities exist at the executive level than at lower levels. When the job market is tight, you’re competing with more people, many with similar qualifications and their own unique assets.
- Special requirements you have: For instance, if geographical location is a critical issue, your options become more limited. Similarly, salaries and other compensation elements can vary geographically, and your preference for relocating to a particular area might involve the specter of lower compensation.
- Reorganization impact on your prospects: Your current company might have gone through a reorganization that put you in a lower position through no fault of your own. Even if you were able to keep your compensation unchanged, the situation could weaken your ability to make a strong case for receiving the same or more in your next position.
Three Factors That Could Work to Your Advantage
- Unique experience and opportunities: On the face of it, a given executive title might carry much the same description of responsibilities regardless of the company. However, you might well have had or unearthed opportunities to gain experience and contribute value that many of your contemporaries didn’t.
- A robust network: Smart executives have been building and strengthening their network for a long time because they know it’s not just a key element in their job search; it’s part of their value package with regard to their next employer. For example, if you have a good connection to someone in a company that your potential employer would like to do business with, you might be a big help to them.
- Special knowledge and abilities: If you have developed extensive knowledge of a particular company and its industry, you might be able to bring that knowledge to bear in a way that would give the potential employer a competitive advantage in the marketplace. By the same token, if you have demonstrated the ability to pull success out of apparent defeat in a variety of challenging situations, you could offer special value to companies that are struggling with similar challenges.
How to Negotiate the Compensation You’re Worth
It’s not within the scope of this article to cover in any depth the complex subject of compensation negotiation. However, here are a few key points to keep in mind:
1. Dealing from a position of strength gives you an advantage. The extent of the advantage might vary, but it’s important to take whatever steps you legitimately can to put yourself in that position. Maximize your value proposition and minimize the possible impact of “desperation” elements that might make you more vulnerable and prone to accept less than you should.
2. Knowledge is a form of power in negotiating compensation. There’s really no excuse for not investigating the situation as fully as possible to determine not only what people like you are currently making in the targeted role but also other business and economic factors that might influence the negotiations. You can’t go back and renegotiate if you find out things later that you didn’t know and should have.
3. The desire to burn bridges when you’re leaving a bad situation needs to be restrained. Even if you were forced out in a power play not of your making, you need to move beyond the bad taste of that and focus on moving forward without leaving a disaster zone behind. It’s important to keep that situation from becoming a roadblock to successful compensation negotiation in your next position.
Know what you’re really worth and then get it: That might be easy to say, but you know it’s probably not that easy to do. On the other hand, it’s not impossible either. And as the saying goes, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for.” Gear yourself up for the fight and go for it!
The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Compensation Negotiation
As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to: