You did it! You’ve secured an offer for a c-suite position! Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the c-suite or a first timer, receiving an offer for a senior position like this often brings feelings of exhilaration, relief, and excitement for your new role. You may be inclined to sign the offer letter and send it back without a second thought, already waving goodbye to your old position and looking forward to stepping into your new executive role and taking on new challenges.
Even this far along in the recruitment process, there are still some very important discussions that need to happen before you commit to the position. And even—and especially—in the c-suite, negotiation is your friend. At this level, you have more control over the negotiation process and more leverage when it comes to your compensation package, as well as the expectations that will come along with that, so you won’t want to leave those on the table—even if you’d be thrilled to accept the role for peanuts.
Here are four conversations you’ll need to have in the process of negotiating an offer for an executive role:
The Expectation Overview
You’ve probably already had this conversation in the interview process, but it never hurts to clarify expectations one more time. What are the primary goals of your new position? Is there an expectation that you, personally, will raise numbers by a certain amount? What factors will your performance in this role be judged on? Get these items in writing and negotiate for more favorable terms if necessary.
Additionally, if your potential employer has agreed to allocate resources in order to achieve these goals, get that in writing too. If you are brought on to lead a new division of the company, for example, and then the funding for that division is not provided, that fundamentally changes what you have to work with in that role. Clarifying expectations on both sides ensures that both you and your potential employer are on the same page before you commit to the role.
The Non-Compete Conversation
It’s extremely common for an executive role to be covered by a non-compete agreement. This agreement typically states that the executive cannot work for a competitor after leaving, and sometimes regulates the executive’s activity outside of their role. For instance, a non-compete might dictate that the executive cannot update their LinkedIn blog with industry-specific information. If the executive is already a thought leader in that space, this may be a problem and something that is worth negotiating.
In addition, it’s wise to get as much detail about the constraints around working for competitors as possible. If you lose your job, those competitors may be the best place to look for a similar position—so you need to know exactly where that line is, including the names of unacceptable companies, if possible. Negotiating your non-compete into being as specific as possible provides you with the maximum number of opportunities and peace of mind in the long run.
The Contingency Plan
Sometimes, nothing goes according to plan, through no fault of your own. Between mergers, market downturns, or other company changes, there’s always a chance that a role may simply be eliminated at some point, however unlikely. It’s important to have a plan in place to protect yourself in this situation, so make sure that you discuss an exit or severance package with your prospective employer.
At the executive level, this can look like a simple severance package, or it can be more complicated and include a placement service, stock options, or other benefits. Negotiate with the worst-case scenario at the forefront of your mind: If you no longer have a job, how will you take care of yourself until you can secure another position? At the executive level, it is reasonable to negotiate for a severance package in the case of a no-fault termination.
The Compensation Discussion
Your salary is a large part of the compensation discussion, but it’s not all of it. At the executive level, there’s more to consider in the compensation package. Stock options, bonuses, flexible work policies, equity, and more, are all options that may be applicable, depending on the company. When you begin to discuss compensation, it’s in your best interest to think beyond base salary.
That said, when you do discuss salary, don’t be afraid to ask for more when appropriate. Assign a monetary value to your accomplishments, do market research, and consider the company’s budget all before entering this conversation with a potential employer. If currently employed, it is reasonable and customary to expect a pay raise of 10-15% for a similar role. If the role is a promotion, then you may find that the base salary is the same because the pay raise is the title improvement. However, the ceiling should be much higher due to a better incentive package.
Only after you’ve discussed these essential topics can you sign that offer letter without reservation. Negotiating for an executive role may look a little different than you expect, and it’s just as much about compensation as it is about setting expectations for every potential scenario. But at the end of the day, it’s in your best interest to do so. When everyone is on the same page ahead of time, you’ve protected yourself against the worst-case scenario and set yourself up for success in the event of a best-case outcome. Even if it takes a little longer to officially commit to your dream role, it’s worth it in the long run.
Ready to secure your next executive opportunity? Contact GRN Mid-Cities today.