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Advice online abounds about how executive compensation should be negotiated. There are tips on why it’s important to research the compensation range for your targeted position, when to bring up the “money talk” and what to do if pressured to give a figure when it isn’t in your best interest to do so. This post won’t be addressing those negotiation tips.

What I’d like to do here is invite you to take a big step back.  

Recently, during an evening with friends at the local club, the topic of compensation negotiation emerged as a dominant theme amidst discussions on various topics. It got me thinking and based on an analysis of various pieces of advice doled out by others over the years, and my own research, here’s a dossier on this important aspect of our corporate lives:

Ask! Are you aware that barely one-third of candidates even negotiate? And less than half of internal candidates talk about raises during annual appraisals? While people may have their own inhibitions for not doing so, it’s important to remember the old adage that you miss 100% of the shots you do not take!

What is the most difficult question during the interview process? It’s not “Why are you the best candidate for the job?” “Tell me about yourself,” or even “What is your greatest weakness?” The hardest question during the interview process is “What is Your Salary History?” The question is challenging because it can have a major impact on your earnings and, sometimes, even the likelihood of being hired. If your current salary is lower than what the standard salary for the role is or what you are truly worth, you may end up getting an offer than is lower than you deserve.

Executive compensation negotiation is often seen as a necessary evil for candidates navigating the interview process. With so many pitfalls, and high stakes with lasting repercussions, it can make candidates of all levels feel somewhat worried and uncomfortable. However, there are several steps that candidates can take to better prepare and alleviate some of the stress.

Step 1: Do Your Research

BlueSteps recently hosted an #ExecCareer Chat on the topic of executive compensation negotiation, featuring Renee Arrington, Pearson Partners International, and John Ryan, TRANSEARCH International.

Some of the questions asked included:

You must be prepared to answer compensation-related questions before you start interviewing. Unfortunately, these are not always easy questions to answer. By gathering information from these sources, you should be able to come up with a salary range and compensation package needs and wants to use if these questions are brought up during an interview, during negotiation process, or when requesting a raise.
 

Executives negotiate millions to billions of dollars in their roles every day, but often fall short when it comes to negotiating their own salary.

Yes, you may have been job hunting for several months and really, really want/need to be re-employed. No, you don’t have to take the first offer.
 

The executive interview is often a challenging experience. We recently shared our guidelines to help you prepare for your interview in our post “The Best Ways to Prepare for an Executive Interview”. The interview process is often one where search consultants analyze your experience, skills, competences, and potential fit with the company. The process is often less of a two-way conversation and more of a Q&A session with the search consultants directing the questions at you. But, there are some vital questions that you should be prepared to ask and discuss during the interview process.

If negotiating your salary makes you uncomfortable, you are not alone. In a survey conducted by Salary.com, only 37 percent always negotiate their salaries—while 18 percent never do. Even worse, 44 percent responded that they never brought up the subject of a raise during their performance reviews.

What’s behind this reason? If you guessed fear and lack of negotiating skills, you’re correct.

BlueSteps recently hosted an #ExecCareer Chat on the topic of executive compensation, featuring Frank Morogiello, from Pearson Partners International.

Some of the questions asked included: