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A Guide to Salary Negotiation at an Executive Level

Salary negotiation can be a complex, and stressful process. But it is also something that’s important if you want to get ahead in your career and be appreciated. You will often be asked what kind of compensation you are looking for; and for most candidates this can be a very challenging question to answer. And so, they freeze up. With a big position, comes an equally big salary, so the stakes are high for candidates seeking to occupy the position. However, when the time comes you need to approach the issue, you may dislike doing it but learning to negotiate is a useful skill that will benefit you in the long run.

Read: Negotiating Your Salary and Career Path

Salary Negotiation Guide at an Executive Level

A common question often asked is why is it important to negotiate salary? It is important for you to understand that negotiating executive salary is a vital part of your career advancement. Your salary is a way for you to view how much your company appreciates your work and values you and your skills. It also allows you to state how you value yourself.

Here’s how you can tactfully negotiate executive salary;

1. Do your research

It is important to understand the value of what you are planning to negotiate for. Knowing your worth before entering a discussion regarding your salary is vital, this will require some amount of research. Your objective should be to determine the salary range typically paid to someone like you, with your level of experience, talent, and background. Having identified this, your next step would be to determine where you fit in this range, based on your credentials.

You need to be as informed as possible so pay attention to the in-demand positions or critical roles in your industry and how much each is being compensated. You will need to have a realistic perspective of the current salary rates in your industry before creating a salary negotiation strategy. You can use salary calculators to help you understand the basic salary trends in the market like PayScale’s Salary Calculator.

2. Build your case

Build a case for your desired salary because just saying you want a particular salary is not enough. You also need to prove that you are worth the amount you think you are worth. You need to prove that the investment of the recruiter is worth it. Practice what you are going to pitch, so that you are not nervous during the negotiation. Also, think ahead and consider all the possibilities they might offer so that you can negotiate confidently.

Read: How to Breakdown and Negotiate Your Salary

3. Be prepared to face resistance

When you are trying to negotiate an increase in salary you are bound to face some amount of resistance. This is why you need to be prepared to answer any questions about why you think you deserve this salary. Here is where your preparation and practice of building your case will be useful. You can calmly convince them that you deserve that salary you are asking for.

If that doesn’t work, have a counteroffer in mind. It is important to remember that you can provide a counteroffer if you are not satisfied with your initial offer. Once you have done your research, provide reasoning and come back with a more appropriate figure.


4. Be flexible as well as firm

Although you need to defend your salary, you also need to be open to work with what they are offering. That’s where the ‘negotiation’ comes in. It will not serve your purpose if you simply refuse to consider their point of view or their offers. Confidence and persuasiveness are key when negotiating for a raise. You need to mentally prepare yourself to go back and forth when negotiating executive compensation and make sure that the compromise reached is acceptable by you as well as the recruiter. To do this;

  • Have a range in mind rather than a concrete figure. This means you should have a lower limit below which you know is too less for you. You don’t need to share your range with the recruiter. This is just to help you negotiate better.
  • Try not to accept the first offer. Take the time to evaluate the offer and don’t rush into accepting. But remember also not to wait too long to accept their offer because they might hire someone else. You can schedule the next meeting and come back with your counteroffer and a few options to present to them.

5. Ask for a follow-up

If you realize that the negotiation is not going to result in you getting the job or the salary you want, you can ask your employer for feedback. You can also write a follow-up email after the meeting to your employer briefly clarifying the points you made and why you made those points. This will ensure that the people you are negotiating with are on the same page as you. You can summarize the meeting and list the key points of your salary negotiation. Following up can also be a great opportunity to express your gratitude for considering your proposal to negotiate and leave that encounter on good terms for possible future considerations.

6. Be willing to walk away

Walking away from an offer will never be easy, but it is important for you to know when to do it. If there is absolutely no way that you and your recruiter can come to a decision, understand that it is okay. Walking away from an offer could be based on your financial needs, market value, or simply your need to feel good about the salary you bring home.

In a negotiation, both parties need to feel good about the negotiation amount and the meeting. Because that’s the beginning of the professional relationship you have with that company. So if there is no way to come to a common decision, then do not be afraid to consider walking away from it.

7. Be appreciative

After you have delivered your pitch, you need to continue to put your best foot forward when the time comes to leave without the offer and the job. Regardless of the outcome, you must be understanding, appreciative, and thankful for the opportunity you have received.

So, whether or not the negotiation meeting goes the way you had hoped, you should behave in a professional manner and thank your recruiter for their time.


Salary negotiation can be challenging and stressful. But understanding the recruiter’s point of view, doing your research, knowing your boundaries, and practicing and considering every possible offer will help you be more confident at your salary negotiation meeting and hopefully help you get the salary you want and deserve.

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