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Negotiating a salary can be a daunting task, regardless of your level of seniority and position. Furthermore, Asians are typically less confrontational than Westerners and tend not to challenge the status quo.
As an executive, salary negotiations are typically longer and more complicated than when you were a junior staff. While negotiating for the highest possible salary may be your main objective, you should also remain open to discussing other benefits and perks which could help close the gap between your expectations and what your employer can realistically offer.
Here are our tips on how to negotiate your salary at the senior executive level, to help you get what you are really worth. While it applies to those who have just been offered a new role, it’s also useful for those who plan to negotiate the executive compensation package.
5 ways to negotiate your remuneration package.
1. ask for it
It sounds obvious but to win the lottery you need to buy a ticket. And if you want a higher salary, you need to ask for it.
You could argue that there’s never a good time to talk about your salary, but that doesn’t mean you should just avoid the topic altogether.
The easiest way to get a salary increment is to speak with a new employer. If they are willing to invest in you, they will make an offer that meets your expectations. However, it may be difficult for your existing employer to increase your salary prior to the next budgeting period. Nonetheless, leave it too late and you may just lose your chance.
Some people don’t even try to negotiate their salary for fear of upsetting or offending their bosses. But just by asking shows that you’re open to negotiation and that you’re committed to the company. It takes courage and confidence to do it, and a good boss should recognise this.
Tim Castle, author of one of the best-selling books “The Art of Negotiation” says, “Above all else, focus on believing in yourself and the value you bring, don’t count yourself out before the race has even begun. The best way to be persuasive and influence the outcome of the negotiation is to get people on your side by having them like you.”
2. don’t oversell yourself, but commit to exceeding expectations
When it comes to negotiating a higher salary, it’s always good to have a strong hand. In the case of a senior executive, that should be your proven track record and exceptional performance.
Remind your boss why you were hired, how you’ve progressed so far, as well as highlight your notable contributions and achievements, and the impact you’ve made to the organisation. Explain how you’ve not only met the expectations placed on you but have very well exceeded them.
If you are interviewing for a new role with another company, discuss how you can bring some unique skills and experiences to the table. Employers are always looking for problem solvers and people who can think outside the box to increase their bottom line. They may see value in your ability to bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to the business challenges they face.
However, you should refrain from overselling your capabilities. Failure to meet those high expectations can cost you your job and reputation.
3. be creative with your remuneration package and benefits
With more and more CEOs joining the $1 salary club, a sky-high salary can come under intense scrutiny, especially when top-level executives lead a flamboyant lifestyle despite poor business performance.
Besides the base salary, there are many other perquisites to explore and discuss. If you hit a roadblock on salary discussions, move on to negotiate other benefits such as equity bonus, retirement planning or sabbatical leave. If you are interviewing for a decision-making role with a start-up, ask for a share of equity.
Profit sharing, stock options and bonuses can make up 40% of an overall senior executive salary package. A cash-heavy package (bigger salary) might be better if you need higher short-term cash flow. However, if you can afford to be patient then long-term incentives such as stock options, retirement bonus or performance shares can really pay off. Just make sure you understand the exact terms for exercising stock options and the accessibility of long-term incentives.
There are a host of other benefits to consider as well, such as car and travel allowances, club memberships, guaranteed severance package and relocation compensation. You could even ask about an education fund (such as an online MBA programme) and explain how it would help you become a better leader.
Although it has no monetary value, you can also negotiate for a better job title to make sure you have the most senior-sounding one available. Individuals with senior titles are perceived to hold more important positions in the company, especially in the Asian context. A more senior title would also enable you to better connect with your peers, command meetings and influence key stakeholders. If you’re being hired at the director level, request for your title to be an executive director or senior director instead.
4. know who you are negotiating with
Your bosses managed to get to their current positions because they are probably very good at negotiating. They know how to make good deals, manage stakeholders and employees, and budget for rainy days.
So you’ll need to bring your A game to sell yourself and prove you deserve the compensation package you are asking for. If they feel that you deserve it and that you have the potential to offer more, they’ll be willing to fight tooth and nail for you.
If you’re interviewing with a new employer, try to work out their negotiation style with your professional network and find out what’s the best approach to take. It is also very likely that they have been profiled in the media or spoken at conferences, so take some time to read the news or watch some clips to gain a better understanding about their passions, values and aspirations.
Employers have a wide range of approaches when it comes to executive compensation and you need to know where your boss sits on that spectrum.
5. be prepared
A recruitment specialist has a broad professional network that consists of senior-level executives as well. They will know what the real requirements of the job are and the reason why your predecessor left the company along with the salary range that you would likely receive if you accept the opportunity. Information of the job responsibilities and culture can help you make a well-informed decision on your career.
Tim Castle adds, ‘’Put in the time, do your research and have the conversation. And enjoy it. You are giving them a fair portion of your life to expand their business so make sure you get what you deserve’’.
are you ready to negotiate now?
Truth is, no matter how prepared you are, you’ll still feel nervous. This is because you’ve set an expectation for yourself that you would need to meet.
If you’re unable to come to an amicable agreement with your boss on your remuneration package and wonder what your other options are, you can always reach out to us.