Is Salary Your Only Currency?

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I’ve been reflecting lately on some recent scenarios I’ve encountered in the market, in which senior candidates (two to three roles before C-Suite) have been hedging their bets and taking a hit on salary in order to progress in an environment with more room to make a splash.

The New Zealand market is small and most of our larger enterprises are entrenched in preparation for ‘Digital Disruption’ with mixed results.

There are still a lot of businesses in our market where an appetite for a true digital channel shift hasn’t quite matured. Some might argue that others are spending more time changing the way they approach changing, rather than actually changing – (See what I did there).

This is particularly interesting because we’re seeing a lot of ’traditionalists’ (usually long-in-the-tooth career management/exec) sitting comfortably and not noticing the guillotine slowly raising (dramatic I know but that’s me!). Meanwhile, skilled Tech & Innovation natives are increasingly finding themselves struggling against a sea of red tape – just to getting them to recognise change is necessary to survive digital channel shift.

Those in the latter category have been coming out of the woodwork in droves. They’re looking for an opportunity to make a difference in a business that is nimble enough to make decisions and implement changes quickly in order to remain competitive in an increasingly volatile market.

Some of the things I’m hearing (more often than you might think) is that candidates feel like they’ve been stuck in larger enterprise roles. They believe they have been priced out of the market, and they’re beginning to almost redefine ‘currency’ in terms of:

  • The nature of the challenge in the role
  • Who has directed the strategy moving forward (ie. board, CEO, Exec)
  • Nimbleness and influence
  • What would the ‘next’ role be? (The role AFTER this one).

Some of them are choosing to go consulting in order to gain condensed transformation experience on a project-to-project basis. Consulting carries its own unique set of challenges, but can be a great way to break patterns, give you a new lens into the way different organisations work, and hone your ability to influence decision-makers in a more commercial way.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not proposing we all drop our pants for the next employer for some ‘sexy’ new tech… Ideally, you should be moving north in each salary negotiation… But people are considering less for the right environment, where the opportunity for influence equals the appetite for disruption.

Do you think this is sustainable?

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