Negotiating an Executive Level Salary

negotiating an executive salary

You got your foot in the door of that executive level position you were eyeing, you nailed the interview, and you’ve been told that you’re at the top of the list of qualifying candidates. Congrats!

Then, the interviewer asks that dreaded question, “What kind of compensation are you looking for?”

Most job hunters tend to freeze up here, but for execs it can be particularly frightening. Big positions tend to equal big money – money a company is shelling out – so the stakes are higher for candidates seeking this kind of position. Below you’ll find some tips on negotiating an executive level salary in addition to how to answer the above question.


Believe you’re worth the big bucks.

This may seem trite, but it’s one of the biggest issues people face when negotiating. If you want the big bucks you need to believe you deserve them.

You can’t let yourself get bogged down by stories of the economy, what the interviewer might think of you, what other candidates have said, or where the company may stand financially. The reality is that you don’t know how much money the company has or what the interviewer is thinking. You also don’t need to worry about what other candidates have said – the important thing to remember is why you’re the right fit for the job and why that merits the money.

Keep in mind that this is much different than being entitled. Entitlement is coming from a place of control where as believing you can get more money is just a healthy dose of self-esteem.


Aim higher than the minimum salary you’ll accept.

Most people will low-ball themselves at the first opportunity. They think they are being humble when in reality they could have made more money. Combat this by taking the minimum salary you’ll accept and aiming higher.

The worst that could happen is they tell you it’s not possible, at which point you begin negotiating. If this does happen then at least you know it probably won’t go any lower than your minimum requirement.

With that being said, there does need to be a certain level of reality when talking about salaries. There’s a big difference between asking for a 10% increase and asking for some extra zeros.


Back up your salary number with evidence.

Companies will pay good money for great candidates, therefore it’s your job to show them that they need you on their team.

This starts even before they ask you about the salary by making sure to show your leadership qualities on your resume and during the interview.

You can really knock their socks off by using quantitative examples. Tell them how you increased company revenue, brought down costs, blew sales numbers out of the water, or made employees more productive. The more proof you have to back it up, such as reports or performance reviews, the better your chances of getting the salary you want.

By providing hard evidence you also take care of any worries the interviewer may have had of you overreaching or sounding conceited.


Daily Career Tips


Landing your next job doesn't have to be an overwhelming, frustrating or time-sucking task. Get daily tips on how to find the position you deserve,  delivered right to your inbox:

  • The #1 addition every resume needs in 2023 and beyond.
  • How to get prepared for a job change even if you like the job you have.
  • How to handle a chaotic job market and where to focus your job-seeking efforts (hint, it’s not the job boards).
  • Where to find great jobs without submitting 500 meaningless job applications.
  • How to slice through the Applicant Tracking System B.S. and land a 6- figure role you love.
  • How to track down the “unpublished job market” and have your pick of the best jobs out there.
  • How to write a resume that will hit hiring managers right between the eyes and have them scrambling to book your interview.
  • How to get up to speed with your online branding and write a LinkedIn profile that positions you as the #1 expert in your field.
  • How to approach job seeking with the “human touch” so you can keep the bots at bay.
  • And finally, access to our 4-stage META Job Landing system we’ve used with thousands of job seekers just like you.

About Lisa

Lisa Rangel and The Chameleon Team are the only executive resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and job landing consultancy who has been hired by LinkedIn and recognized by Forbes. Our 4-Stage META Job Landing System stems from decades of corporate and executive recruiting experience to position you to land your next 6 or 7-figure role faster.


Looking for an article on a particular topic? Use the search below...