VPs of Talent Acquisition can pull down $185K to $300K per year salary, according to Glassdoor and some anecdotal chats with people I know. But I’ve got TA friends who make 7 figures per year (or the annual equivalent over a 5 period (e.g $5 million+ over 5 years).

How do they do it?

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from these TA rainmakers on how they pull in 7 figures:


1) You have be an amazing sales person

To get what you want, you have to know how to sell. A couple of examples:

Recruiting — Your boss (CHROs and other C-types) will pay you big bucks to recruit all stars even if you have your own recruiting team. And to be a good recruiter you have to know how to sell.

My 7-figure friends not only recruit amazing recruiters but they personally still recruit themselves, including key engineering, sales and C-level positions.

Leadership — Secondly, you need to sell yourself, your beliefs, and agenda. That means that you’re selling up (to your C-level boss), selling sideways to your peers and selling to the team you’re leading.

I call this sales leadership

To “sharpen your saw” in sales, I recommend you (re)visit resources such as:

  • Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion — this book outlines the 6 pillars of influence: Reciprocity, Commitment, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity through fun real-life stories.
  • Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People — it’s old-school but there’s a reason it’s a classic.
  • SPIN Selling — The book SPIN Selling is a concept focused on selling through questions (she who listens the most wins!) that will forever help you close.
  • Chet Holmes — Listen to anything from the late-great Chet Holmes (top salesman for Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s right-hand man) — Check out The 5 Qualities of a Sales Superstar for a summary of Chet’s approach to hiring sales people. Notice how he comes up with high levers such as Ego and Empathy.
  • Brian Tracy — Read or listen to anything from Brian Tracy. Here’s one book (The Psychology of Selling) that’s helped me.

If you’re not on the track to making 7 figures, it might be that you’re not studying masters like these above enough.


2) You have to manage well

C-Level folks will pay you handsomely to absorb management stress, so you need to manage big teams really well and keep your team’s problems off of your boss’s plate.

A good rule of thumb is that your salary will increase with the size of the team and initiatives you manage, if you manage it well. Is there anything at all talent-related you can take off your boss’s plate?

High Output Management by Andy Grove is one of my favorite management books.

Talent Acquisition Management


3) Bonuses & Commission

Salary alone will rarely get you to 7 figures — you need to do it with bonuses/commissions as well as equity. Push your C-Level boss to give you a bonus based on a fun goal that truly moves the needle for him and the organization.

For example, if your company is ramping up a new division/business or in a new location, come up with a stretch goal of $200K to $500K+ to nail a certain goal in record time. Chances are that such initiatives might be worth tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars in annual value to your boss/company.


4) Equity

Again, salary alone will rarely get you to 7 figures as head of TA. But if you can help move the stock price of your employer, then the public market (buyers of the stock) can put money in your pocket without your company spending a dime of their own money on you.

Your C-level leadership team typically has 2 ways to boost your company’s stock price: A) Increase sales and B) Increase profits. Ask for a healthy stock plan and then work with your boss on how to drive more sales, increase profits (see #5 below) or both!;

Note: To get higher bonuses/commissions and more equity, use the data from my article “The 80/20 of Hiring How Your Next Star is Worth $30 Million”. This would be especially effective if you could point to someone you’ve hired who turned into a superstar worth an average of $30 million per year for your company. But even if you haven’t hired one yet, you can use this data to justify coming up with some fun new bonus/commission/equity-related goals.


5) Cut Costs

Cutting costs (if done properly) drop the bottom line. For example, a friend of mine reduced staffing firm placements at his company by 18 fills (worth $380,000 — his boss was glad to give him a $200K bonus last year for that).

The way he did it was to boost his internal recruiter’s productivity (fills per recruiter) by 50%. This was such a transformational model that my pal is likely going to get another $100K bonus this year just for keeping it up.

If you can do these 5 things well, you’ll be on your path to a 7-figure year in TA.

by in Leadership, Talent Acquisition