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The One Bold Salary Negotiating Tactic Only High-Achievers Can Use


salary negotiating tacticMany popular job search coaches give the executive salary negotiation advice to hold out and not say a say range when asked. Well, this is great in an ideal world and in reality it works occasionally. Except I can tell you first hand, as a recruiter, many executive candidates I interviewed did not move on to the next step when they did not give me a salary range.

This is how that conversation between my recruiter-self and the executive job seeker would go:


Employer: “What salary range are you seeking?
ExecJobSeeker: “Well, I am sure you will compensate in the right range for the talent you want.”
Employer: “Well, what is that salary range you are looking for?”
ExecJobSeeker: “Let’s see where our conversation goes and we determine what is fair at the offer stage.”
Employer: “Well, can you give us an indication?”
ExecJobSeeker: “Well, what is your budget Mr. Employer?”
Employer: “We expect to pay fairly for the most qualified talent. We don’t want to move forward unless we know we are all on the same page in the same range. Can you give us an indication of the salary ranges of the positions you are interviewing for?
ExecJobSeeker: “I prefer to keep chatting to learn more about the position.”
Employer: I understand. I know there are numbers candidates will not go below and numbers they would get excited about, but if you prefer to not offer that information, I understand. Let’s continue.”

This conversation can go on and on, if allowed… and at this point in the conversation, I would ask other questions to see if the person had enough proof to overcome their kind, yet red-flag indicating decline of the politely asked salary question. Most didn’t. Then I would end the interview and the candidate did not move forward in the process.


I was not going to be burned by someone saying they were in the ball park, getting to the final interview and then coming in with a range that was completely out of whack with what their skills warranted. This happened to me early on in my recruiting career and my company client was angry at me for wasting their time and setting their search back by weeks having to start over, since the candidate that assured me he was “within a reasonable range” was not even close to the above market range my client was willing to pay. Once burned, twice shy. This is why recruiters press for the desired salary number—some of your fellow job seekers ruined it for you.

What is the one bold salary negotiating tactic only high-achievers can use?

Be prepared to boldly state a compensation range first.

By now, most savvy executives on either side of the recruiting desk know the age-old negotiating tactic of “whoever says the first number loses.” Sometimes this game is played on an interview ad nauseam, as demonstrated in the above sample conversation.

So unless an executive job seeker is prepared to be shown the door when pressed by some recruiters for a range, I say be prepared with a range. Say it boldly and confidently. Being prepared with a range vs. only doing the deference of salary discussion is a tactic used by resilient executives prepared for all scenarios. However, this is not a tactic for the weak or bottom rung of performers. You need to have the achievements and the gravitas to pull it off.

Ask yourself “Do I think I can pull it off?”

What does your gut tell you?

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