Compensation Negotiations: Part 1

One topic I have written little about is salary negotiations. That choice is one I expect to rectify because it is a topic that requires attention.

One important variable is whether you have an agent.

Without an agent, you have no buffer, no emissary to protect you from misstatements or shooting yourself in the foot.

This doesn’t mean you should only use an agent; frankly, there are many circumstances where I have seen people do a terrific job without one.

Yet, the fact remains – good agents will do a superior job of negotiating for both sides. They protect you from yourself and emotional responses to situations, sometimes by talking you down from the ledge (the metaphor is one of talking a suicidal person down from jumping off a building and killing themselves). You can kill your candidacy with a stupid remark ­­and I have heard some beauties that I have intercepted!

They can also manage the client’s expectations, too.

Last week, I was working with someone who was interviewing for a position with a hedge fund at an office outside Philadelphia. The person was also interviewing for a job in New York and was going to get New York salary offers as well as an offer for a very good Philadelphia salary.

Knowing this and telling the client avoided offending the man’s sensibilities and allowed the client to make an extremely strong offer to him.

At the same time, a good agent is a trusted adviser to the client and that can work well for you, too.

In another negotiation, I knew the maximum price the client was willing to pay and the salary the candidate was willing to happily accept ($5,000 less).

When asked by the client what would cause the candidate to be extremely happy, I suggested a salary of $2,000 below budget and $3,000 more than the one the candidate told me would please him.

When told of the salary offer, the young man’s joy leaped through the phone!

So when you evaluate recruiting firms and whether they should represent you, make sure you find a recruiter with experience under his belt and not just a 23­year­old with a good voice over the phone and 15 minutes of experience.

The service you receive from a recruiter may be free but end up costing you a lot in a poorly run negotiation.


Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2006, 2008, 2016, 2020


JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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