Almost Half of Workers Do Not Negotiate Job Offers

August 23, 2013 ( – A failure to negotiate job offers means many workers are leaving money on the table, according to a new survey.

CareerBuilder found that even though 45% of employers are willing to negotiate salaries for initial job offers, almost half of workers (49%) accept the first offer given to them.

The survey, which explored how both sides of the table approach salary negotiations and looked at compensation trends for the upcoming year, found that in terms of age, a new hire’s willingness to negotiate the first job offer usually comes with more experience. Fifty-five percent of workers 35 or older typically negotiate the first offer, which is significantly higher than workers age 18 to 34 (45%).

As for gender, men (54%) were more likely than women (49%) to negotiate first offers. And in terms of industry, professional and business services workers (56%) were the most likely to negotiate salary. They were followed by information technology (55%), leisure and hospitality (55%) and sales workers (54%).

“Many employers expect a salary negotiation and build that into their initial offer. So when job seekers take the first number given to them, they can be undervaluing their market worth,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “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.”

If they are unable to meet a job candidate’s salary requirements, a majority of employers are willing to provide alternative benefits. Employers surveyed said they would offer:

  • Flexible schedule (33%);
  • More vacation time (19%);
  • Telecommute at least once a week (15%); and
  • Pay for a mobile device (14%).

However, 38% of employers surveyed said they would not be able to provide any alternative benefits.

While 11% of employers include wage or salary information in their job listings, the survey found that nearly one in four (24%) said they don’t reveal what the position pays until they extend the job offer. Nearly half (48%) will discuss salary during initial conversations or during the first job interview.

The survey also found that about one third of employers keep track of what competitors pay comparable employees via job postings (33%) or market average reports (34%), but many (35%) don’t factor in external compensation at all. Haefner noted that this can hurt employers competing for skilled labor.

“Forty-nine percent of hiring managers surveyed said job candidates have refused offers due to salary,” said Haefner. “It’s critical that recruiters and hiring managers are armed with up-to-date compensation data. If you offer premium talent below market rates, it can be very difficult to fill vacant positions.”

In addition, the survey revealed that more than half of hiring managers and HR professionals (54%) are willing to negotiate salaries on initial job offers in the next year. For offers given to new hires, 34% of employers said the average change in compensation is expected to grow less than 5% in the next year, and 16% expect increases of 5% or more. Thirty-four percent anticipate no change, 3% expect decreases and 14% are unsure.

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,076 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 2,999 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between May 14 and June 5, 2013.