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  Salary Talk: What executive level suits my qualifications?
Salary Talk
Startups often let employees take on broad, diverse responsibilities. But how does startup work experience translate to a larger organization?
What executive level suits my qualifications?

Q. I have been running a small startup company for almost four years. Four of us are consulting to the company in various executive roles. I'm the founder and president, handling a wide range of duties, but mostly in business development. I have the skill set and experience of most directors of business development or higher positions. My role has also exposed me to areas in which business development professionals are not typically involved.

In considering other employment opportunities, how do I know which executive level I qualify for given my diverse background? Will companies discount my startup experience in the belief that it is not equivalent to experience with a national firm or a Fortune 500-type company? How does that influence what executive level I qualify for? Does the success of my business venture play a role in determining this?

A. Whether the company is a Fortune 500 company or a medium-sized company, try to understand the job and the expectations associated with it. The actual content, scope, and responsibility of the job should dictate the value of the job.

You seem to have lots of experience, which can translate into a number of opportunities. However, it's never a good idea to pigeonhole yourself into a certain level in an organization based on your experience. Instead, focus on what a company can offer you in terms of career opportunities and a competitive compensation package.

If you headed a business development group at a startup company, chances are you had limited resources. A large organization may offer you more resources and opportunities. So it's important to focus on other aspects of the company, rather than on where you fall within the organizational hierarchy.

Remember, most companies will pay you for your level of proficiency and skill sets you bring to the job. In some cases, you could earn more money as a manager or director in a large company than as an executive in a medium-sized company.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional

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