Half of workers don’t negotiate salary. Here’s why they should

WASHINGTON — Salary is usually at or near the top of the list when trying to land a new job, but a CareerBuilder survey finds most people don’t try to negotiate a better deal.

It says 56 percent don’t negotiate for better pay when they’re offered a job. About half who don’t negotiate say it’s because they don’t feel comfortable asking or are afraid the employer will decide not to hire them.

Another 36 percent in the survey added that they don’t want to appear greedy.

But in reality, there’s usually room for some negotiation.

CareerBuilder says 53 percent of employers are willing to negotiate salaries on initial job offers for entry-level workers, and 52 percent say that when they first extend a job offer to an employee, they typically offer a lower salary than they’re willing to pay so there’s room to negotiate.

More than a quarter of employers surveyed who offer a lower salary say their initial offer is at least $5,000 less than what they’re willing to offer.

The national surveys were conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 24 to June 16, and again from Aug. 16 to Sept. 15. The surveys included 4,600 full-time employers and 3,500 full-time U.S. workers across industries and company sizes in the private sector.

Age matters

The survey found that 45 percent of those 35 or older typically negotiate the first offer. It also says 47 percent of men negotiate, compared to 42 percent of women.

Information technology workers, sales, financial services and health care workers are the most likely to negotiate that first offer.

Despite the leeriness to ask for a better offer, 79 percent of those surveyed said they don’t earn their desired salary, and 36 percent say they don’t earn anywhere near it.

CareerBuilder has the following tips for negotiating a better deal once you get the first offer:

  • Ask all of your questions: It’s important to have all the information on the table before you accept or reject an offer. It’s OK to ask questions such as: Is this base only? When would you like an answer? Will there be a sign-on bonus? How will I be evaluated, and will there be an increase based on that evaluation?
  • Treat negotiation like a job interview: Remind the employer of the experience and education you have and why you are worth more, but understand the employer’s restraints. There may be a salary cap that no amount of negotiation can loosen.
  • Consider more than the salary: Negotiating a job offer and negotiating a salary are not synonymous; consider the other factors you can negotiate that greatly impact your role and overall happiness with it such as: responsibilities, location, travel, flexibility, opportunities for development and perks.
Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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