Negotiating Salary Tactics & Tips

Executives negotiate millions of dollars on behalf of their employers for contracts, products, and services every year. Why then is it so difficult for most executives to negotiate their salaries when offered a job? Whatever the reasons, senior managers, directors and C-level executives are not immune from negotiating their salary for a new job opportunity.  

In the pre-screen or initial interview, the recruiter or hiring agent wants to screen you out quickly. So they start the interview conversation with a compensation question, asking “How much are you currently making?” or “What is your salary level?” If you answer too low, you may be perceived as not competent, lacking confidence in your worth or sophisticated enough to handle responsibilities commensurate with a higher salaried executive. If you answer too high, you knock yourself out of the running and the hiring manager rapidly moves on to candidates more in line with their salary range.

executive_compensationFirst of all you should do your homework and know the compensation range for this position so you can use this information to your advantage at any point in the interview.  

Second, to delay the “money” talk, answer questions about compensation something similar to:  “I’d like to find out more about this position first and talk about compensation should we both agree I’m a good fit.”  

Third, if pressed to give an answer about your salary, give a range that is within the salary requirements for the job. This should keep you in the running and moving to the next interview phase.

During the interview process, continue to express interest in the position, but don’t discuss salary before the offer, if at all possible. You want to create a sense of need – that the hiring manager has to hire you because you are the best candidate for the job – before talking money.

It is a well-known fact that executives who are currently employed have a higher perceived worth than someone who is unemployed. Your job status could tip the weight of the salary negotiations. Know your worth and what salary you want before talking to anyone. Also have in mind the benefits you want/need to entice you to make this career move. That gives you confidence in what numbers you are willing to negotiate and benefits you are willing to give up if necessary. And, this gives you leverage during the discussions.

Okay, the offer is finally on the table. But it isn’t what you want. Employers expect people to try to negotiate so feel free to express your disappointment. Once you have done so be quiet. The silence will be uncomfortable and cause the hiring manager to pierce the silence with conversation – hopefully with an attempt to negotiate. At this point, if asked for your target salary, present a figure above what you want, so the negotiations can land close to your anticipated dollar amount.  
Negotiating your salary can be a complicated and challenging process. There are many factors that can come into play, such as hiring bonuses, stock options, profit sharing, short-term incentives, flexible work schedule, etc. So consider everything as you go through the negotiations, balancing salary with benefits and incentives. As any good executive, you know it comes down to the bottom line whether negotiating a multimillion-dollar deal for a company, or your salary and benefits. Get what you are worth and more!

The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Compensation Negotiation

As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to:

- Figure out your compensation value
- Navigate compensation questions during interviews
- Strategize how you counter and accept employment offers
- Negotiate a pay raise from your current employer
- And more!

Download Now!

About the author

Louise Garver's picture

Louise Garver, certified executive resume writer, branding and job search strategist/coach with BlueSteps Executive Career Services, has guided executives across industries and disciplines to land their ideal position in less time while maximizing their compensation. She would be happy to share this vital information with you! Energize your search and learn how to navigate easily the complex job market with her step-by-step job search system.

Learn more about the BlueSteps team of career advisors and the services they provide to help you improve your career trajectory here.

Other posts by this author

Share your thoughts


I found the article interesting!

I found this article interesting but only at very high level, most of it is more of having common sense. At this level of experience, most of us have that sense. It would really help if author interviews few senior level executives and talk in detail as to how the salary was offered, how the profit sharing or sign in bonus was negotiated, what finally closed the deal and what are the critical closing factors. How to ask for a raise who really besides that there should be a raise and what can jeopardize it how to prevent the mistakes while in negotiation. I shall look forward to such valuable details.

Julia Salem's picture

Hi Sukumar, thanks for your comment. If you're seeking more information on this topic, please check out the Compensation section of our blog: https://www.bluesteps.com/category/Executive-Compensation

Stay Connected