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 Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


0 Comments on “Survey Finds That Half of All Candidates Don’t Negotiate Job Offers

  1. This is another reminder to job applicants. Passing up negotiating is a mistake.

    There is no easier and better time to claim value than before you accept a position that an employer wants you to take because you created value for them.

    The problem remains a lack of confidence, with the root of that shortcoming being a lack of a negotiating skill set, which should be taught, if not in high school, then certainly in college or an trade education.

    Not offering this to students is dropping the ball.

    However, if it isn’t offered, then every parent should be recommending it to their children to benefit them. If we’re long past high school and college, then we ought to be proactive in taking a negotiating course.

    As John writes, effective negotiating isn’t just for salary. It’s for schedule flexibility if possible, vacation time and I’d add continuing education expenses, sick leave, and more. Negotiating is not aggressive bartering, is not best done with all-or-nothing thinking or split-the-difference approaches. Pursue a course and have your eyes opened to possibility.

    The more you develop skills, the more confidence you will have to negotiate, which you will, and then you will increase your aptitude.

    Michael Toebe
    High-Value Outcomes
    Business First Aid for Disputes and Anger

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