CISO Compensation Negotiation Checklist

April 11, 2023 | By IANS Research

This checklist combines real-world experience from CISOs and other security leaders with market-based insights from cybersecurity recruiters to help CISOs negotiate an optimal compensation package.

Checklist for Negotiating CISO Compensation

Work Through a Third-party (Recruiter) Where Possible 

  • Leverage your recruiter’s negotiating knowledge 
  • Discuss your ‘wants’ and ‘nice to haves’ with your main recruiter
  • Team with them to understand components of your offer, especially detailed items like complex equity packages

Tip: Find the right search partner. Artico Search recommends finding a partner that: 1) Invests time in working with you to drive decisions, prioritizing the long-term benefits of a relationship over short-term gains of a hire; and 2) Is a specialist who understands the specifics of the cyber market, with deep networks in the security function

Be Transparent About Your Desired Salary Range Upfront 

  • Ask mentors and recruiters if your range is aligned with the market
  • Decide what will be the ‘cut-off’ lows of your salary range

Tip: Discuss compensation expectations. Don’t spin wheels and waste value job search time by not discussing a salary range up front. If a potential employer’s salary offer is off by 10% - you are still within a workable negotiation range. However, if it’s off by 40%, that will be a major issue and a deal breaker for all parties involved.

Your Initial Offer is Not likely the Best and Final Offer 

  • To keep goodwill, take the time to discuss and understand the rational around the offer
  • Work with your recruiter and hiring contacts to step through the rational around the offer and what can be adjusted

Understand Your Compensation Package Structure 

  • Be familiar with the components of your package beyond salary 
  • Dig into additional value-added benefits such as: Longer-term wealth creation opportunities (cash vs. equity, vesting schedules, etc.).  Make sure to ask about:  
    • Incentive bonuses
    • PTO and related perks
    • Career development: training, CISO certifications and education costs, MBAs 
    • Conference and seminar fees
    • Industry and related organizational membership fees


READ MORE: Leadership Compensation Negotiation Checklist


Be Flexible About the Structure of Your Offer 

  • Understand there are multiple ways to get to the right answer for you
  • Realize there is usually wiggle room built into job offers

Tip: Stay involved during your entire interview process. Make sure to leverage and develop the relationships you have with both the recruiter and the internal hiring team. A strong rapport will help you stay connected with the right people to get specific benefits questions answered to move the process along quickly. 

Request a Compensation Re-assessment Down the Road 

  • Ask for language in the contract that guarantees a compensation assessment after a certain amount of time
  • Consider pushing for re-assessment at the 12- or 18-month mark

Tip: Ask about hiring sign-ons. Available perks could be equity grants or retention bonuses. There's no one size fits all for additional hiring incentives.


Although reasonable efforts will be made to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in our blog posts, no liability can be accepted by IANS or our Faculty members for the results of any actions taken by individuals or firms in connection with such information, opinions, or advice.

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