smart spending

3 executive salary secrets

Additional training or education can also increase your negotiating power with employers, says Lewin.

"Investment in deepening your skill and education base and broadening your company and industry base makes you more generally desirable as an employee," says Lewin.

Perhaps the most valuable bargaining chip executives wield is the perception of scarcity -- that should they not have salary demands met, they might move on to a different company, Lewin says. Average Joes can also play employers off one another, he says.

Joyce Richman, president of Joyce Richman and Associates, agrees, but urges caution in using this approach.

"You'd better be absolutely sure that people are not only competing for your services but you have an offer in hand, because I think that can come across as a threat," she says. "And it will be an empty threat unless you know that you can turn right around and accept the position that had just been offered to you."

No. 3: Networking is a full-time job

Many executives' success can be attributed at least in part to being well-connected.

"Certainly relationships are a key part of what makes a CEO successful," says Challenger. "Executives often have very high relationship-building skills."

Investing time and effort into creating long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with movers and shakers in your industry can have a whole host of benefits, says Richman.

"I think that (networking) should be a lifelong career strategy. I think it's essential, not only in times like these, where so many people are so stressed about their jobs, but we need to do it certainly in good times," Richman says.

"In that networking, be aware of what other people are doing and where they are in their careers, and how you might benefit them as well as how you hope they can benefit you, whether it's in your search or in your current company."

And in a labor market as competitive as this, where job openings are often filled before they're even advertised and raises are hard to come by, a web of strong relationships is key, whether you're an executive or not.

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