Survey Finds That Half of All Candidates Don’t Negotiate Job Offers

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I get a ton of surveys sent my way, and sometimes, it’s good to just read one that reconfirms what you already kind of know.

Here’s a case in point with the latest research from CareerBuilder:

Nearly half of all workers (49 percent) don’t negotiate the offer when they are applying for a new job, according to a nationwide survey from Harris Interactive and CareerBuilder, and as you might expect, this means that a lot of candidates are leaving money on the table.

More experienced workers negotiate more

The survey of nearly 3,000 full-time, private sector U.S. workers and more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals, conducted between May 14 and June 5, “explored how both sides of the table approach salary negotiations and looked at compensation trends for the upcoming year,” as CareerBuilder put it.

Here are some of the other key findings:

  • The survey found that a new hire’s willingness to negotiate the first job offer usually comes with more experience. Some 55 percent of workers 35 or older typically negotiate the first offer, which is significantly higher than workers age 18-34 (45 percent).
  • Men (54 percent) are more likely than women (49 percent) to negotiate first offers.
  • Professional and business services workers (56 percent) are the most likely to negotiate salary, followed by, information technology (55 percent), leisure and hospitality (55 percent), and sales workers (54 percent).

“Many employers expect a salary negotiation and build that into their initial offer,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, in a press release about the survey. “So when job seekers take the first number given to them they are oftentimes undervaluing their market worth. Not every hiring manager will be able to raise the offer, but it’s never a bad idea to negotiate — especially if you have experience and possess in-demand, technical skills.”

When do employers talk about salary?

This survey didn’t necessarily surprise me, but it does raise some concerns. While 11 percent of employers include wage or salary information in their job listings, nearly one-in-four (24 percent) said they don’t reveal what the position pays until they extend the job offer. About half (48 percent) discuss salary during initial conversations or during the first job interview.

To my way of thinking, getting a fix on the candidate and salary is a key part of the hiring process and something that should be done during the job interview. It’s an important piece of the hiring puzzle, and that’s why I’m mystified that a quarter of hiring managers think you can avoid the subject for so long, and until such a critical stage.

That’s a poor way to hire people, I think.

And, that’s borne out by this:  about half (49 percent) of the hiring managers surveyed said that job candidates have refused offers due to salary, the survey found, and that’s reason enough for getting pay on the table early in the negotiations.

“It’s critical that recruiters and hiring managers are armed with up-to-date compensation data<” said CareerBuilder’s Haefner. “If you offer premium talent below market rates, it can be very difficult to fill vacant positions.”

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Other issues employers will negotiate over

This also raises another question — what do hiring managers do when they can’t increase the salary offer to a candidate they really want to land?

According to the CareerBuilder survey, a majority of employers are willing to provide alternative benefits, including the following:

  • Flexible schedule — 33 percent willing to offer;
  • More vacation time — 19 percent;
  • Telecommute at least once per week — 15 percent;
  • Pay for mobile device — 14 percent.

But, there’s on more thing — some 38 percent of hiring managers said they would not be able to provide anything else to sweeten the job offer, making you wonder how serious their organizations are about hiring people anyway.

Not a lot of surprises here

Not surprisingly, 51 percent of employers expect salary increases of less than 5 percent in the next year, while 16 percent expect increases of 5 percent or more. This pretty much goes along with other 2014 salary surveys this summer that show the expected pay increases next year to be around 3 percent or a touch higher.

The CareerBuilder survey also asked employers about expected average compensation increases for current workers and new hires. Nearly a quarter — 23 percent of all employers — expect no changes, while 9 percent are unsure.

Yes, there’s nothing terribly startling or new about this latest survey, but it does tell you one thing — the slow recovery from the recession continues to plod along, and the fact that there are no big changes or surprises in this research just underlines that.

That’s how it looks to be continuing well into 2014 and beyond. My guess is that other surveys you’ll be seeing will give us pretty much the same message.

John Hollon is managing editor of Fuel50, an AI Opportunity Marketplace solution that delivers internal talent mobility and workforce reskilling. He's also the former founding editor of TLNT and a frequent contributor to ERE and the Fistful of Talent blog. 

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