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September 27, 2011
Bonuses Are Back: The New Value of Experience
During the past two years, powerful executives have been accepting jobs that brought severe pay cuts and junior titles. The big question employers were asking was “What can we get him/her for?” Everyone was ready to pounce on a bargain. 
Lately, however, I’ve noticed the tide seems to be turning. In the past few months, we’ve seen candidates bidding for higher compensations — even if it means losing the opportunity completely. What happened to the past few years when we were all just happy to have a job? 
Last year we saw that businesses were starting to employ again, but they were mainly willing to bring on junior executives and offer smaller compensation packages. This year, that trend had seemingly continued, until recently. Our clients have decided to restart searches in order to elevate them. Meaning, they were finally willing, and able, to invest in talent again. They have realized that the economy had not only hurt their annual volumes; it had been a detriment to their home talent pool as well.
Many companies found their teams to be too young, too inexperienced, and frankly, too cheap. It was time to pay for experience again. Companies began to realize that if the economy was starting to turn around, even if slightly, they would need executives who could hit the ground running — people that carry the know-how, superiority, and rank.
When it comes to the economy, our world leaders are more than frank. Europe’s indexes are down, the unemployment rate is still soaring, and our world is confused and edgy under the weight of war and natural disaster.
And yet, people seem to be buying again — even if it is with a sense of frugality. This small change is causing companies to invest in talent again, and this time with larger bonuses, better stock options, higher base salaries, and company incentive packages. They have realized that if there is some economic turnaround, their products had better be representative of their brand and capable of grabbing the attention of even the most prudent spender.
We have always believed that talent is the primary differentiator, even if it hasn’t been recognized for a few years. 

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A founding member of Martens & Heads!, Kate Benson brings more than 15 years of industry experience and executive search expertise. She focuses on senior-level placements within the lifestyle practice and specializes in general management, sales, marketing, human resources, and operations. Her clients include global iconic brands as well as entrepreneurial startups.

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