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Flying Through the Storm:
An Interview with Peter Carter, CLO of Delta Air Lines

Featured Articles - Issue 10

Ask a Recruiter: Your Questions Answered

In our recent Negotiate Your Compensation Like A Rock Star: This Time It’s Personal (Part 2) webinar, we received more questions than we could answer during the program. Here are some insights on how to better negotiate:


I have a manager who does not recognize the value of prompt client service and being a business facilitator; instead, they promote people simply based on length of time at the organization and risk avoidance, irrespective of business performance. How should one navigate that?


If a manager doesn’t understand these critical pieces of your role, at some point you need to look for a new job at a company that does respect this. Is there a person in the organization who does get it? Look to that person for guidance or talk to HR. But if it’s a place that doesn’t understand the value of being a business lawyer, then it is always going to be hard to make strides in changing that mindset and it’s better to move on now.


I recall seeing an interview where Sheryl Sandberg received an offer from Facebook and her husband said she had to counter because a man would definitely counter. Is that true? How much back and forth is typical?


A candidate doesn’t always need to counter; sometimes it is just a great offer that might even be above expectations. However, we often encourage candidates who are going to counter to do it all at one time. A prolonged back and forth puts a strain on the future relationship. Also, counters should be reasonable. Pick the top three or four things that are the most important and make reasonable asks all at once.


How do you determine whether you are underpaid (in cash and overall compensation) compared to your peers, especially if you have gender and ethnic “minority” status?


Do research, talk to your peers, talk to an MLA recruiter and utilize various compensation surveys and benchmarking reports to determine where you should be. If there are multiple people with your title, HR should be able to tell you the current range being paid to people at your level. The good news is that compensation information/resources are more readily available now than ever before. We are also always happy to share anecdotal and benchmarking information with you.


What elements of a compensation package are typical in a GC package?


Base, bonus and equity are the standard package. After that, it varies dramatically by company. Companies may offer all sorts of fringe benefits (e.g., professional development dues, car allowance, executive clubs, airline clubs, executive physical). Of course, companies will provide various types of sign-on bonuses to address what a candidate will leave on the table.


What are you seeing in terms of working remotely from one state part of a week and then commuting and working in the office in another state the rest of the week instead of relocating?


The question of remote work and relocation has definitely become a larger part of every conversation. We are seeing a bit of everything, and we expect things to look differently even a year from now. Employers have always been nervous about long-distance relationships, and even though many of us have worked remotely for a long time now, that nervousness has not gone away. At the GC level, more often than not, we are seeing requests for a full relocation regardless of whether there is a remote working arrangement. This may vary depending on geography. If you have experience with 2-to-3-day commuting arrangements, be sure to mention that information to your employer to put their mind at ease.


Should a lawyer review the offer letter for a GC/CCO role?


This depends on the company and the components of the compensation package. If it is complex and there are complicated equity issues, a candidate may want to speak with a lawyer in advance of actually receiving the offer, and oftentimes after receiving the offer.


Is it poor form to leverage competing offers from two new companies?


Yes, you want to be up front and open; it should not be a last-minute surprise to either potential employer that you have two offers on the table. If you have been open about this likelihood, you can easily say to your preferred option: “I did receive another offer. I would prefer to work for you, but here is what is attractive about the other….” We do not recommend saying this to both employers and playing them off each other.


If you are honest with them both and with yourself, you can successfully improve the offer from the company you want to work for. If you try to play them against each other, they may both lose interest.


How does the negotiation change when you have a gap in employment and are currently unemployed?


Right now, employers are more forgiving than usual. Just make sure that wherever you go next you are prepared to stay for a while to effectively “erase” the gap.


Companies tend to start the negotiating process by asking the candidate to first disclose what they are looking for. How can a candidate flip that so the company provides their range first?


Do exactly that. “Before I share my expectations, can you tell me more about the compensation range for the role?” But you should have your expectations in mind so when you do need to share those, you know what your bottom line might be.


How do you broach the compensation conversation if you are considering staying at your current employer and not actively looking?


If you are trying to ask for more money, you may want to approach this with benchmarking information about the particular role to show that you may be underpaid in the market. Sharing that you will look for a new job if not compensated correctly isn’t necessary if you are armed with the right information to show that you are underpaid. Data is always key. A lot will depend on your relationship with your current employer. Do you have the ability to say to them, non-threateningly, that you are dissatisfied with your current compensation and will need to seek a change? More importantly, will that be received as a threat, even if you don’t mean it that way? Threats do not help for long-term changes; they tend to sour the relationship even if you do get more money in the short term. But if you are valued and tell your employer that you are dissatisfied, they should try to do something about it.


How do you negotiate compensation when you are working with a non-U.S.-based entity that is just building out a legal presence in the U.S. and does not understand what the market looks like here?


There needs to be an understanding of the culture of the company and what you are going to be up against in terms of compensation. Oftentimes, there aren’t a lot of inroads to be made. On the other hand, with the war for talent, companies no matter where they are based are beginning to understand the importance of providing competitive compensation packages. In other words, we are seeing this as less of an issue more recently. We suggest presenting them with the compensation survey and making sure they know what the market rate is in the U.S. and then having them speak with professional recruiters. Any and all recruiters are likely delivering the same message in this market, which is: There is a war for talent and you cannot expect to make a hire without engaging in battle.


Watch the webinar to hear their engaging discussion and gain more insights into negotiation.



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