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Does the search firm have the compensation range?

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

“I get sharing expectations, but doesn’t the search firm have the compensation range?”

Kind of.

In my experience, the more senior the role, the more vague this is.

Usually this is the conversation:

Search firm to company: “What is your compensation range?”

Company: “Typically X but this is a new/different role. We don’t want to turn down great talent. Actually, what do you think we should pay?”

Search firm: “You may be able to hire someone at X, but I’d like to show you people up to Y because that will really open things up. Thoughts?”

Company: “Yes, please send us anyone you think is a great fit and let us know their comp expectations upfront.”

There is a range, but it’s loose. At the executive level there are many levers to pull during offer creation. Compensation isn’t so cut and dry as base salary and cash bonus.

If the search firm has worked with this company before, they’ll have a good idea of what can and can’t be done. They’ve seen the levers get pulled between org/title changes, sign on bonuses and RSU grants. They’ve lived the offer process. Until then, it’s hard to say.

This is why recruiters don’t usually throw numbers at you. They don’t know what the company can ultimately do. If a recruiter does tell you a range, keep in mind it isn’t yet tailored to you.


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