The Truth About Compensation

If you are interested in hiring me for Compensation, I have two services for job seekers: 

1. Market Analysis Pull - Based on your role, experience, job family and industry  I can provide an in-depth overview of your current and potential market valuation and how to get to optimal places within a few job changes. The rates are based on your job family, experience, industry and location and sources. 

2. Salary Negotation Strategist - As the guy who approves Compensation offers post negotiation, I am an excellent resource to have on your side during the interview process. I will guide you every step of the way, including the negotiation. Using my services, employees average a rate of 28-33% above the initial offer. (Based on my familiarity with industry and role).

The cost for this is one flat rate, and then a % on the delta if I am able to get you a better offer. 

To learn more - go to the Compensation Product here.

To learn more about Compensation - here is a general overview and guide that explains the fundamental issues with Comp and how to optimize for it as it relates to job searching. 

Compensation is a Personal...and a Business Expense

Compensation is one of the most fundamentally misunderstood and hot-button topics there are so I hope my information helps illuminate a few things. 

After working very closely with compensation in Tech, Entertainment and Media companies as both an HRBP and a Comp Consultant to FAANG. I have come to understand that so much of the negative stigma simply comes from a lack of education and information and it's on each side - and in the absence of information, we are prone to thinking the worst...

  • Companies are strangely and needlessly obscure and secretive about compensation structures, decisions and pay philosophies 
  • Managers are not trained on how to have sincere, comfortable and meaningful conversations with employees about Compensation
  • Employees either feel misled, underpaid, entitled or confused and spend more time talking to each other and getting further upset than if they were just told the information in a clear and honest way

No wonder everyone is annoyed and confused. Let's shed some light on some of the current misperceptions...

 Note: I know every experience is different and a lot of these elements depend on industry, company, size, location and job family. For the most part this is GENERAL information for corporations of more than 3,000 employees (this is usually the time where you need to have a very well documented compensation model)

 The Myths Around the New Hire Offer Negotiation

Have you heard of things like...

1. "Never answer the salary question...."

2. "He who gives a number first loses..."

3. "If you go too low on the salary, the company will lowball you..."

4. "Make sure you do your research on Glassdoor..."

While either intending to help you or support you, the truth is following this advice may work against you.

I'm serious. 

Don't believe the poster on Blind. Or the negotiating AirBnb guy, or all of these other "experts" that teach you the truth about "how companies negotiate?"

How do I know?

Because..I am the one that approves the final offer. 

HR Partners work closely with Compensation for their business unit, understanding all of the recent market trends, patterns and data and determine a compensation philosophy structure with the leaders, so when you enter the negotiation phase, and it's beyond the recruiters limit to approve -  it is brought to me for approval or denial

If you take advice from someone who has never sat in HR, than what you are getting is Point of View advice  - it's a "this is what has worked for me". Even if it worked 10 times in a row, there is no conclusive data that links the approach with a conclusion.

My perspective is systemic. It's approving tens of thousands of offers in my career. Trading best practices and models from other HR experts in leading companies. Watching market rates change, update, flex and surge as new roles enter the market and impact valuation and watching the cultures of negotiation and candidate satisfaction change. 

This is why I balk and want to pull my hair out when I hear "self-proclaimed experts" tell you their secret strategies like "Don't Answer the Salary Question".

Why? Because it makes a really bad impression and you risk just being immediately passed.

Contrary to popular belief, the company is not looking to lowball you. I want you to make as much as possible - within reason. I am ensuring we make you an offer that is fair, well thought out against the market value, gives you room to grow and doesn't cause negative impact to your peers - my ideal goal is that you join and accept the offer feeling excited. When an employee feels well compensated, everyone wins. For the right candidate we will use all the levers at our disposal to make sure you get an offer that you are excited by as long as its within our range and reason to do so.

But I don't CARE about Internal Equity - that's stupid

It's funny how that sentiment vanishes really fast when you are an employee and we make the next hire.

" do what?"

I've had the fortune to work for companies that exemplified really good pay practices and do you know what happens when companies are proactively thoughtful in their offers? They hire good and productive employees. 

When you are asked the salary range during the initial phone screen - the big fear is that if you go too high, you will be priced out. If you go too low - you will get lowballed. 

Here is something that might surprise you...companies aren't looking to lowball you. The full cost of hiring you can be between 1.5-2.6x your offer, so the company isn't looking to "save a few bucks" on your salary. 

If you give a number that is below the range - I am very happy to tell the recruiter to bring it up. If we hire employees that are too low in the range, it causes huge flags for me to fix later. It's far better if we bring employees in at the right level - respective to their experience and skills of their peers. 

Why Won't Companies Just Publish a Range?

I can't speak for every company and I have seen a few try - but the results seem somewhat disappointing after a few years. For me, there is a reason I am in support of not making the whole range available - and it's to account for the reason the range exists in the first place. 

When we in HR build job descriptions we realize we will never find the exact match. We work with managers to try and capture the exact roles, qualifications and experience that the position does, but every applicant will be on a continuum, so to account for that we don't usually have a set salary in mind and instead we publish broad ranges to account for different levels of experience and impact 

The problem is - human beings can't "unsee" a number and we will always "hear" the top of a range. 

So for example - if I was hiring an experience Technical Project Manager and we had 2 candidates - the first who had 7 years of experience coming from a big tech company and fulfilled all of the qualifications (and then some)... but the other candidate has 4.5 years of experience and came from a non-profit and didn't have all of the qualifications, they would perform at two different levels - and as such their compensation packages would reflect that.  

The problem is - they (and myself included when I am a candidate) have trouble with this - and when we "hear" the range, we associate with the top number - not considering that the range is accounting for measurable differences in experience. So we try to do what is best and ask for your expectations and try our best to optimize for it with those filters. 

The Optimal Way for Compensation Negotiations

Ignore all of the advice you've gotten about "how to negotiate" - I am going to give you the optimal advice I've seen work the most in candidates favor (that I also use when I am the candidate)

1. When asked for salary expectation, answer it - and give a range

2. Do not talk about "Glassdoor" or that you "did your research" - every company, industry, location and job family pays differently and whatever other companies are paying for what may or may not be a similar role does not impact the other. A Marketing Manager in Chicago who works for a 200 person pickle-packing company is going to make a very different salary than a Marketing Manager working for a luxury diamond dealer in San Francisco. 

3. Remember the company is (usually) not looking to low-ball you. While we know you want the highest possible offer, what we want is to give you the best possible offer that makes the most sense for what we think your performance could be...provided it does not cause damage to internal fairness

4. After giving the range - follow up with this question: "How does that compare against the range of the position?" Pay very close attention to the answer. You are being given very good information

5. If the company says they want to make you an offer - do not feel anxious or worried about negotiating. You aren't going to lose the offer if you bring it up in a professional or polite way. The worst they will say is that is the best they can do. 

6. It boggles me how much people don't know that you can use the recruiter. Sure, they are working for the company, but they want to CLOSE THIS HIRE. You can simply ask them. "How do you think this offer is?" "How does it compare to other previous offers?" "Do you think I would have room to negotiate on the equity?". 

7. When negotiating, do NOT talk about Glassdoor, Other Offers, What You Wanted, What You Heard Your Friend Makes...those are weak arguments to Compensation. Remember it's a business calculation based on an estimated valuation of your performance. It's much more effective to refer to cases in the interview or a unique skill you have that makes a clear distinction for more on the offer. 

Finally - and most importantly - if the company can't match your expected compensation don't take it personally. They aren't trying to lowball you, they aren't trying to insult you, it's not personal. It could be your role is outside of their range. It could be this is not a company that has strong alignment between your job family and the industry. Simply thank them for the offer, politely decline and move on to the next. 



Interested in hiring me? Click here for more information on my Compensation offerings








1 comment

Aug 25, 2023

“Contrary to popular belief, the company is not looking to lowball you”
“The company isn’t looking to “save a few bucks” on your salary. "

Buddy, are you sure you’re an expert? lmao

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