How To Build A Competitive Compensation Package

By Paul Flaharty, executive director of the marketing and creative practice at global talent solutions firm Robert Half, which connects professionals with companies hiring in marketing, creative, digital, advertising and public relations. His primary responsibility is to develop and oversee the growth strategy for the company’s marketing and creative contract talent solutions teams across the United States. More about Paul below.


You’ve found a great candidate for your open creative role, moved them through interviews (without cutting corners, of course) and extended a job offer. Your hopes are high — until they tell you they’re going with a different opportunity.

With competition for top talent so fierce right now, building your ideal creative team may feel like an impossible quest. How can you make the most sought-after creatives choose you over your competitors?

Understanding what today’s creative professionals look for in a compensation package will help. Research from the 2022 Salary Guide From Robert Half shows not only what salary levels are appropriate for creative positions in cities across the country, but also what benefits and perks job seekers value most and other trends in the hiring market. Taken all together, this information can help you craft an attractive offer that makes top talent say yes to yours instead of another company’s.

Why Competitive Compensation Matters

 Salaries, benefits and bonuses may feel like expenses, but they’re actually investments in your firm’s future. Offering competitive compensation allows you to:


Building a workforce full of people with high-value skills could enable you to expand your client base or execute more complex projects. Having a top-notch team also helps boost your firm’s reputation — among potential clients and talented creatives alike.


Cost-per-hire is a crucial metric for hiring managers, particularly in smaller firms. By improving compensation, you reduce the risk of talented candidates slipping through your fingers after you’ve spent time and money pursuing them.


When staff are well-compensated and feel valued, they’re more likely to stick around, saving managers time and money on recruitment, onboarding and training.


Competitive compensation (particularly when it’s linked to performance) incentivizes employees to produce the kind of work that leaves stakeholders, customers and clients impressed.

4 Tips For Building A Compensation Package

A good compensation package makes both sides happy. The candidate feels like their value has been recognized; the employer is satisfied they’ve made a worthwhile investment. Here’s how to construct a win-win offer.


Candidates read salary guides, too, and do other salary research. They know their market value. If your offer is average, above-average talent may not apply.

Use the Salary Guide and Salary Calculator to assess median pay for the position in your city. If you can, set your offer a little higher than the going rate to attract the attention of highly skilled candidates. If you can’t, flesh out the package with tempting benefits and perks (see below), and make these prominent in your job posting.

If you don’t usually list salary ranges in your job descriptions, consider doing so now. Talented candidates have abundant opportunities in today’s market and may skip over the least informative job ads. Transparency could be your best policy.


Your compensation package should be designed to further your firm’s short- and long-term goals. For example, if your priority is to raise profits in the next 12 months, you could offer a bonus for hitting a certain metric, running a successful marketing campaign or bringing new products to life.

If you’re looking to build a highly experienced creative team, your compensation plan might include gradually accrued benefits like company matching for a retirement plan or a company share scheme to reward loyal employees.


Everyone wants to do well, and that’s a lot easier to achieve if the goalposts are well defined. Knowing how bonuses are awarded how much you’ll earn for each commission or how to get a raise is important for morale. To eliminate unconscious bias or perceptions of favoritism, bonuses should be given across the board or clearly linked to performance in line with the company’s mission.

The more transparent you can be about your compensation process, the more motivated staff will be to focus their efforts in the right direction.


Benefits and perks can be just as important as salary in a hiring and retention strategy, so make sure your incentives are what workers actually want. Tuition assistance, for example, sounds like a desirable benefit, but research from Robert Half reveals that only 6% of candidates regard it as a priority. The same survey found that health insurance is a must for three-quarters (76%) of employees, followed by paid time off (57%) and a retirement savings plan (51%). Flexible work schedules are also highly desired as employees seek to maintain a healthy work-life balance in the wake of the pandemic, and over half of creatives would appreciate having the option to work remotely at least a day or two per week.

Following these tips will help you set up the bait, but it doesn’t guarantee your preferred candidates will bite. Don’t despair. Recalibrate your package if needed, but stick to your strategy. If you’re offering the right opportunity with the right compensation, it won’t be long before you make the right hire.



More About Paul Flaharty

As noted above, Paul Flaharty is executive director of the marketing and creative practice at global talent solutions firm Robert Half.  Paul began his career with Robert Half in New York City in 2005. After seven years of building successful operations in the tri-state area, he relocated to Los Angeles. Paul has held several leadership positions, including division director, regional vice president and district director. He most recently oversaw operations throughout Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area for the company’s technology and marketing and creative practices. Paul is a spokesperson for Robert Half and frequently quoted expert on various hiring trends and workplace topics. A graduate of Cornell University, Paul is now based in Los Angeles and is proud to be raising two incredible children.