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Executive Compensation Guide

Hiring an executive or contemplating your next career move? Welcome to the updated Executive Compensation Guide for 2024. As we provide insights tailored to C-suite, VP’s, Directors, Board Members, Fractional Executives, and beyond, we've revamped this guide to offer comprehensive guidance. In this edition, we've replaced the severance section to focus on the crucial soft skills needed for success in C-suite roles and delved into strategies for carving out a growth path towards executive leadership.

Navigating executive hiring or the job market can be daunting, but our Executive Compensation Guide serves as a valuable resource to help you make informed decisions. Drawing on Betts' extensive experience and insights from thousands of executive placements in the tech industry, this guide offers practical tips and strategies to guide you towards a successful executive career. Whether you're negotiating compensation, evaluating potential employers or employees, or mapping out your career trajectory, we're here to provide the guidance and support you need to thrive in today's competitive executive landscape.

There Are 5 Parts to the Executive Compensation Guide


2024 Trends


Leadership Compensation is
Flat, or is it

Despite hopes for a rebound, the trend of stagnant leadership compensation has persisted, posing a significant challenge for leaders tasked with heightened responsibilities but without the corresponding financial rewards. In the tech industry, where resources are tightening, leaders find themselves grappling with the reality of achieving more with fewer resources. However, there's a silver lining for individuals with highly specific, proven successful track records, as they can command a premium of up to 20%. Conversely, those lacking such track records may see a drop in compensation of up to 10%, highlighting the contrasting fortunes within the leadership landscape.

Successful Leaders Balance Results
and Empathy

In 2024, leadership has evolved beyond the dichotomy of results-driven approaches and empathetic leadership alone. A new standard demands leaders who adeptly navigate the delicate equilibrium between achieving goals and nurturing the emotional well-being of their teams. This shift is propelled by the recognition that sustainable success requires more than just hitting targets—it necessitates a culture of trust, transparency, and empathy. Leaders who excel in this paradigm prioritize emotional intelligence, transparency, and workload management, understanding that fostering team well-being is not a concession but a strategic imperative. The takeaway is clear: in today's landscape, effective leaders are those who harmonize results and empathy, fostering resilient teams capable of achieving excellence amidst evolving challenges

Executive Upleveling Through Coaching

In 2024, executives are increasingly prioritizing upleveling to adapt to the changing technological environment. The credibility of leaders is now intricately linked to their comprehension of technology, particularly AI, and its far-reaching impacts on economies, societies, and global politics. This means that merely being acquainted with the latest tools is insufficient; leaders must grasp the broader implications of technology to effectively steer their organizations. Consequently, many leaders are turning to coaching as a vital resource for personal and professional development.

At Betts, we've had the privilege of collaborating with an exceptional Executive Leadership coach, 
Whitney whose services we highly endorse for those aiming to elevate their skills in 2024.

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A Focus on Promoting Women in Tech 

There's a growing recognition of the importance of diversity, particularly in leadership roles. While women make up a significant portion of the workforce in companies like Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, they remain underrepresented in leadership positions.

In response to this disparity, initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusivity in tech leadership are gaining traction. Betts, founded by women, exemplifies this trend by actively advocating for gender equality in tech leadership roles as well as offering a database twice as diverse as the average tech company. To further empower women's advancement into leadership positions, we're establishing a direct channel of communication with our CEO, Carolyn Betts, reachable at carolyn@bettsrecruiting.com. Additionally, if you're seeking executive talent, feel free to connect with our dedicated Executive Search team. Together, let's drive progress and inclusivity in the tech industry.

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Fractional Executives are Here to Stay

As hybrid and flexible work models continue to gain momentum, the prominence of fractional executives remains steadfast in 2024. Through the concept of "Expertise as a Service" (EaaS), these leaders, also referred to as fractional executives, have solidified their position in the business realm, blending the roles of advisor and interim executive with finesse.

Whether it's navigating expansion plans, optimizing operations, or spearheading innovation initiatives, fractional executives play a pivotal role in propelling companies forward. Their agile approach to leadership, coupled with their ability to deliver immediate impact, makes them indispensable assets. As organizations continue to embrace flexibility and scalability, fractional executives are here to stay, serving as key drivers of success and growth in the years ahead.

Soft Skills Needed for the
Modern C-suiter

The significance of soft skills for C-suite tech executives has never been greater. While technical prowess remains essential, the ever-evolving nature of the tech industry necessitates a sophisticated blend of soft skills for effective leadership and organizational triumph. Paramount among these is communication and collaboration, enabling C-suite leaders to convey intricate technological concepts, foster cohesive teams, and navigate diverse stakeholder relationships. Given the prevalent remote and hybrid work models, mastering communication with empathy and clarity across virtual platforms is crucial, fostering trust and innovation within the organization.

Additionally, adaptability, strategic thinking, and empathy play pivotal roles in guiding tech executives through the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. Adaptability ensures agility, while strategic thinking allows leaders to anticipate trends and drive forward-looking strategies. Empathy underpins effective leadership and stakeholder engagement, fostering inclusive cultures and empowering teams. To excel in their roles, C-suite tech executives must prioritize soft skills alongside technical acumen, recognizing their vital role in organizational resilience and sustainable growth.

Here's a suggested list of 10 essential soft skills for these executives, along with strategies to assess them during interviews:

Communication and Collaboration: Evaluate candidates' ability to actively listen, provide constructive feedback, and foster open dialogue through role-playing scenarios or asking for examples of successful team collaboration.

Adaptability:  Ask candidates about instances where they had to adapt to unexpected changes or challenges, and how they navigated through them while staying focused on goals.

Leadership: Request references and inquire about candidates' leadership philosophy and experiences, including examples of how they've empowered and developed their teams to achieve success.

Empathy: Pose questions that assess candidates' ability to understand others' perspectives, handle conflicts empathetically, and promote inclusivity and diversity within teams. Give a real-life scenario of a difficult employee and see how they would handle the situation.

Strategic Thinking: Present candidates with real-life scenarios requiring strategic decision-making and ask them to articulate their approach and reasoning.

Decision-making: Probe candidates on their decision-making process, including how they gather information, weigh options, and make choices under pressure.

Networking: Ask candidates about their involvement in industry events, online communities, and mentorship programs to see how they build and use professional relationships. Make sure to also have them explain their network— who's in it, why, and how they plan to keep growing it.

Conflict Resolution: Present candidates with scenarios involving team conflicts or disagreements and ask how they would address and resolve these issues while maintaining team cohesion.

Resilience: Explore candidates' experiences with overcoming setbacks or failures, and how they maintain motivation and morale during challenging times.

Continuous Learning: Discuss candidates' commitment to ongoing professional development, including their approach to staying updated on emerging technologies and industry trends. Provide feedback during the evaluation process to observe how candidates adapt and evolve in real-time.

Growth path towards the C-suite

A few decades ago, ascending to leadership roles in tech required a lengthy 20-year journey of accumulating experience and expertise. However, about five years ago, amidst the rapid expansion of tech companies, there was a race to add employees, resulting in hasty promotions to the C-suite with only 5 to 10 years of experience. Now, we find ourselves in the midst of those two movements. Companies seek candidates with 10+ years of experience, sometimes even 20, yet they may be hesitant to compensate for that level of expertise.

Today, ascending to the C-suite demands more than just waiting for the right opportunity. It requires a proactive approach and a blend of technical acumen and essential personal attributes. Assess whether you possess the comprehensive skill set necessary to lead teams and drive organizational growth. While technical proficiency remains vital, the ability to effectively communicate, collaborate, and inspire others is equally indispensable. Additionally, a solid understanding of financial fundamentals, such as interpreting cash flow statements, bolsters your ability to make informed decisions that drive organizational success. By prioritizing the development of both technical and soft skills, you position yourself for success on the path to the C-suite in the dynamic world of tech leadership

Here are a few growth paths toward the C-suite in the GTM space:

“Join an early-stage company at Series A, shaping departmental direction from inception to leadership. Ascend through the ranks in MidMarket sized companies, offering tangible impact, risks, and receiving mentorship, and growth opportunities.”

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Establish your C-suite presence in
the GTM space:

1- Build a Strong Professional Network:

Networking plays a crucial role in career advancement. Cultivate strong relationships with peers, mentors, and industry professionals who can provide guidance, support, and opportunities for growth. Actively participate in industry events, conferences, and professional associations to expand your network and stay informed about emerging trends and opportunities.

2- Build a Personal Brand

Cultivate a strong personal brand that reflects your expertise, values, and leadership style. Leverage digital platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and industry blogs to share insights, contribute to thought leadership discussions, and establish yourself as a reputable authority in your field. Consistently demonstrate your leadership capabilities, integrity, and vision through your online presence and professional interactions.

3- Develop Soft Skills

Compensation Negotiation

Here are some key recommendations for comp negotiation to keep in mind:

Know where a company is in the startup lifecycle. Ensure the company’s exit strategy is one you can stand behind and that the timeline dovetails with your personal and professional goals. Getting in on the ground floor with a Seed or Series A-level company will likely yield more stock options and potential upside, but only if you believe in and can evangelize the company’s mission and product. If you are looking for a less risky situation, you may want to engage with a later-stage company.

Compensation Checklist




Optimized insurance packages

Legal representation commensurate with level of risk an executive takes on as a public figure

Travel riders to ensure a certain class of travel

Company vehicles

Education funding

Specialized financial services

Relocation compensation

Wardrobe stipend

Association memberships

Carefully negotiated severance package—sometimes referred to as a “golden parachute.”

Set yourself up for long-term financial success by negotiating for non-cash options like the right to consult.

Before you begin the comp negotiation dance, you want to understand the market and know your worth—this guide can help. As well, keep in mind that change is the only constant. When negotiating your comp plan, keep up and down cycles in mind—especially in the tech industry, which is sometimes known for short C-suite tenures.
Since executives assume significant responsibility and provide high value to companies, their compensation packages typically include more bells and whistles than for an average employee. Executive compensation packages generally include salary, benefits, signing, annual and retention bonuses, stock, equity options, and specific accelerators that kick in if certain benchmarks are met.
Generally speaking, we recommend focusing less on outright cash and more on ways to structure long-term wealth and financial protection with executive compensation packages.

Determine your salary range and necessary options and benefits. Before negotiating, determine the salary range you are comfortable with and whether you can dispense with other aspects of executive compensation, like first-class travel, in lieu of different components, like education assistance, that might be more important for you. Create a list of must-haves and negotiables—it will help keep you focused on your goals when negotiating.

A note to the wise: if you know your number is out of a company’s range and is not likely to budge, be careful in going too far down the line with them.

Understand option terms and set equity goals. Smart companies lay out triggers to entice an executive to hit certain benchmarks. Review these specific terms carefully—for example, make sure you understand the difference between:

  • Single trigger versus double trigger versus common 4-year vesting
  • Extended exercise
  • Cashless exercise
  • Milestone payments. They can be the difference between retirement (or not) at the exit.

Lobby for the right to consult. Another way to build wealth is to monetize your non-competitive expertise via consulting work. When negotiating a compensation package, ensure that it includes a “right to consult” clause.

Do a SWOT analysis of the new opportunity and compare it with your current role. Articulate strengths, risks, opportunities, and threats and use this to frame your conversation when discussing compensation.

Wait to negotiate your compensation. Focus on the value you bring to the company before talking numbers. You want to sell yourself successfully before getting into a comp conversation. Address other aspects of your candidacy, like experience, skills, and vision. You want to ensure that the hiring team feels you are a top candidate before segueing into the comp negotiation dance.

Let the company make you an offer first. If they ask what you are looking for in a compensation package, counter with a request for their initial proposal. You want to avoid asking under their salary range and benefit offerings.

Above all, hold your ground and believe in your worth. Set a compensation package and let the company know it is one you would sign if the company is in agreement. You want to set yourself up for success, not buyer’s remorse.

Scaling your organization efficiently with Betts

As companies grow, finding better ways to hire is crucial. Betts' recruiter subscription model (RaaS) is changing recruiting. It offers unlimited hires and full recruiter support for an annual fee. With Betts Connect, our advanced platform, we link top talent with innovative companies worldwide. Created by recruiters for recruiters, this new way of hiring not only makes it easier but also improves how talent and companies work together. Discover the future of hiring with Betts, where possibilities are endless and support is unmatched. Learn more at bettsrecruiting.com/hire

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