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September 12, 2023 51 mins

"The most common thing I hear nearly every day on negotiations is, I hate negotiating my compensation. I usually ignore it, and now I've got this new offer or I'm getting a promotion." says executive compensation expert and attorney at Cohen and Buckmann, Sandra Cohen.

Sandra boasts over 30 years of hands-on experience, guiding top-tier professionals through pivotal moments in their careers. Listeners will gain an invaluable education as Sandra breaks down a job offer. Key components are highlighted including short-term and long-term compensation, sign-on bonuses, restrictive covenants, and the all-important severance protection. Sandra provides guidance on which questions to ask and when to broach specific topics. 

For those with an eye on equity as part of their compensation package, Sandra delves deeper into its complexities. She touches on the unique advantages and potential pitfalls between the equity offerings of public and private companies. Sandra offers key insights on navigating these differences, including how to evaluate the true value of such equity, understanding vesting schedules, and the implications of liquidity events such as an IPO or acquisition. Armed with this knowledge, listeners can better assess the weight and worth of equity in their compensation negotiations.

A standout segment in this episode tackles termination and severance clauses. Rather than shying away, Sandra advises listeners to approach this head-on during the hiring process, positioning it as an essential part of risk management and job security. She offers strategies for handling potential challenges such as changes in company leadership or shifts in job roles, and points out crucial considerations for options in private companies.

This episode is an essential guide for anyone stepping into a C-suite negotiation. With Sandra's advice, you'll be better able to advocate for yourself or partner with an executive negotiation attorney to secure the best compensation package possible on your behalf.


  • “The number one thing you need to do is to find your original employment offer and save it at home, the signed one, because that is when somebody is already fired, it's hard to know where the starting place is. Please save your documents. (7:00 | Sandra Cohen) 

  • "You can gain confidence going into a compensation negotiation with some data, with good data about what should the market range for this job be. There's always a range. It's a little easier to negotiate by talking about ranges, but make sure you're comfortable with the bottom of your range because as soon as you give a range, that's going to be the place that they start." (28:51 | Sandra Cohen) 

  • An arbitration clause can be from three sentences to a page or two about how the arbitration is going to go. But the one thing that I might add on behalf of an executive is, okay, we'll do arbitration but the employer is going to pay the arbitrator's fee. That's actually more expensive than you would have thought paying an arbitrator. (48:15 | Sandra Cohen)

  • I think banning non-competes is kind of a mistake but I'm of two minds on it because at the executive level it's something you can offer to contract for more money. If you are one of those key people with key secrets that is a legitimate business interest to keep you from working for our competitor, that could be a valuable thing that you can get paid for and if they're banned, it's value that should be contracted for that's sort of disappearing. (50:23 | Sandra Cohen)



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