Survey: DC-area job seekers more likely to hold out for better offer

WASHINGTON — Many job postings include a statement that indicates “salary is negotiable,” and D.C.-area job seekers are more likely than most to take that seriously.

Overall, 39 percent of U.S. workers tried to negotiate a higher salary with their last job offer, according to a survey by staffing firm Robert Half. That compares to 45 percent in Washington, ranking the D.C. area No. 6 for salary negotiations.

“People in the D.C. market are well-versed in regards to what’s going on with salaries, and also cost of living has a lot to do with it,” Trey Barnette, at Robert Half’s D.C. office, told WTOP. With D.C. being one of the higher metro areas (for cost of living) in the nation, people do like to talk about salary and compensation.”

Men are more likely than women to negotiate salary, 46 percent to 34 percent, according to the Robert Half survey.

Robert Half noted employers are broaching the subject of salary expectations earlier in interviews to streamline the hiring process, but it might be best to wait before you bring it up.

“If the employer hasn’t brought it up, I would say (bring it up) closer to the end,” Barnette said.

“Once you get to a comfortable state in the interview process where you think you’ve really proven and shown yourself as a viable candidate, then that’s a good time for you to speak about it,” he said.

Robert Half also recommended practicing the conversation in person with a trusted friend or mentor, saying someone who has been in your position can help you prepare for the unexpected and make a stronger case.

In D.C., Barnette said private employers, especially tech firms, are most likely to have padded in some wiggle room in the salaries for position they are filling, anticipating candidates to ask for more. Nonprofits and associations are least likely to, he said.

Robert Half’s survey included more than 2,700 workers who were asked “Thinking of your last job offer, did you try to negotiate for higher pay.” Results for those who said “yes” by city, below.

Percentage of survey respondents who said they tried to negotiate for higher pay during their last job offer. (Courtesy Robert Half)

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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