And I thought Randy Mott\u2019s $2.2 million signing bonus was big money. Kevin Turner, who used to work for Mott in Wal-Mart\u2019s IT department in the 1990s, inked a $7 million signing bonus, according to documents Microsoft filed with the SEC when it hired him. I wonder what Mott thinks of this, his former direct report getting a bigger bonus than he did? His annual salary at HP is still bigger than Turner\u2019s is at Microsoft, if that counts for anything, but I\u2019m sure there\u2019s no hard feelings between the two gentlemen, who are probably laughing (all the way to the bank) about it.When I heard about Turner\u2019s signing bonus, I naturally called my main executive compensation man Reynold Lewke, the recruiter with Egon Zehnder, to get his take and to see how Tuner\u2019s signing bonus stacked up in the history of signing bonuses. To my surprise, Lewke was not bowled over by the figure. \u201cI don\u2019t think it\u2019s anything unusual,\u201d he told me. \u201cWhen you look at what a meteoric rise he had at Wal-Mart--at 34 he was Randy\u2019s replacement and within six to eight months they kicked him upstairs--it\u2019s not surprising. It shows that Microsoft is willing to bet that Kevin\u2019s value add is going to be worth that much.\u201d In addition to illustrating how much an employer thinks a hire is worth, Lewke says the signing bonus also represents the wealth an executive has accumulated in stock over the course of his tenure at a company that he\u2019d be forfeiting if he left that company. \u201cI can only imagine what he had as far as vested Wal-Mart stock. Clearly he was leaving a pretty good chunk [of change] on the table.\u201dThe reason why $7 million sounds so extravagant (at least to a proletariat like me), according to Lewke, is because the public has more visibility into executive compensation today as a result of Sarbanes Oxley and other changes than it did five to ten years ago. Seven mil also sounds high because it\u2019s cash, which has to be reported to the SEC. More companies are giving out cash because it\u2019s easier to deal with than stock option packages due to all the accounting changes that have been put in place over the last several years. Cash is also less risky. (Before you get your hopes up, be aware that signing bonuses aren\u2019t as common as they used to be, according to our online Executive Career Counselor Beverly Lieberman.)Some of the biggest executive compensation packages Lewke could think of included Meg Whitman\u2019s at eBay and George Shaheen\u2019s at Webvan (reportedly a $13.5 million signing bonus and stock options then valued at $123 million.) He also mentioned some of the packages that executives received during the infamous leveraged buy-outs of the 1980s, including the $53 million F. Ross Johnson reportedly pocketed when Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) bought out Johnson\u2019s company, RJR Nabisco. In the words of our columnist Dora Vell, you get what you negotiate, not what you\u2019re worth. See Negotiating Your Worth for a strategy for your own negotiations.