How Much is Someone Actually Worth?

As an executive search consultant, I deal in compensation daily. Some companies begin a search with a prescribed salary range in mind that cannot be deviated from, while others adapt as needed when an opportunity arises to hire a true top talent. For those with strict limits, this means in some cases the most impressive and capable potential hires are simply out of reach. You’ve heard it said by me in the past that “money isn’t the driver.” This remains true for the vast majority of great people. Most people are driven and energized by great teams with incredible products. There are three primary tanks you have to fill in order to attract the best. Culture, Competitiveness and Compensation are the three C’s of Attraction. In the absence of these elements, it is all about money. Frankly, the toughest search is one where the client company has extremely high standards for talent and experience yet suffers from the inability to afford and thus attract this individual. The answer to the question of what someone is worth is of course subjective. To one company, paying at the 95 percentile is not even a consideration, while to others it is how they attract and retain the best and brightest. So, if you can’t afford to pay these high salaries, how do you hire the best? Your only hope is to have such a great company culture and exceedingly good managers and invest in the professional development of your people. All that and the money still has to be there.


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