8 Surprising Facts About Salary Negotiation

by Aubrey Bach

Surprised Baby

When PayScale decided to create our Salary Negotiation Guide, we decided we needed to start by really finding out who is negotiating and what kind of results they are seeing. So we asked 31,000 people who took the PayScale Survey if they had ever negotiated salary. If they said they had, we asked whether or not they got the raise. If they hadn't negotiated, we asked why not.

Then, like the data geeks we are, we sliced and diced the responses by gender, generation, job type, industry, location and many other factors. The results are both surprising and inspiring. Here are eight of the most interesting facts we learned about the state of salary negotiation today:

  1. Less than half – 43 percent – of survey respondents have ever asked for a raise in their current field. For the 57 percent who have not asked, the reasons most often cited are:
    1. My employer gave me a raise before I needed to ask for one (38 percent)
    2. I'm uncomfortable negotiating salary (28 percent)
    3. I didn't want to be perceived as pushy (19 percent)

  2. The higher your annual salary, the more likely you are to have asked for a raise and the more likely you are (with just a few exceptions) to have received it. While only 25 percent of those earning $10K-$20K received the raise they requested, 70 percent of those earning more than $150K received their requested raise.

  3. Women are more likely than men to state that they are uncomfortable negotiating salary – 31 percent vs. 23 percent – and that holds true even among C-level executives where 26 percent of female Chief Executives said they’re uncomfortable negotiating compared to 14 percent of male Chief Executives.

  4. The gender split between people who negotiate was largest in the Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction industry. More women than men in this industry have asked for a raise (51 percent vs. 40 percent), but men in the mining industry are also more likely to report that they received a raise without having to ask or have always been happy with their salary. For those that do ask for a salary increase, women in this field appear to be a bit more likely to receive the increase they requested (54 percent of women vs. 47 percent of men).

  5. Women holding an MBA degree seem to be struggling most with potential gender bias when it comes to salary negotiation. Of those who asked for a raise, only 48 percent of female MBA grads received the requested raise compared to 63 percent of male MBA grads. And, 21 percent of female MBA grads received no raise at all after requesting one, compared to 10 percent of male MBA grads.

  6. Gen Y is far less likely to have asked for a raise and far more likely to be uncomfortable negotiating or worried about being perceived as pushy. Both likely stem from lack of experience. Baby Boomers, however, are more likely to say they didn’t negotiate for fear of losing their job, which could indicate a concern over age bias in the workplace.

  7. Alaska had the highest percentage of respondents who said they had asked for a raise (53 percent), followed by Rhode Island (51 percent) and then Oregon and West Virginia (both at 48 percent). The states with the lowest percentages of raise seekers were South Dakota (31 percent), Arkansas (34 percent) and Nebraska and Nevada (both at 37 percent).

  8. Workers with low job satisfaction are more likely to ask for a raise (54 percent) than those with high job satisfaction (41 percent), but only 19 percent of people with low job satisfaction receive the amount they asked for, whereas 44 percent of workers with high job satisfaction receive the amount they requested.


Did these results surprise you? If you're ready to learn the best tips and tricks to talk your way into a bigger paycheck, keep reading our Salary Negotiation Guide.

Aubrey Bach

About the Author
Aubrey Bach is the Marketing Manager at PayScale.com and writes for PayScale about salary, higher education and career strategy. She is a recovering Diet Coke addict who grew up on the mean streets of Orange County, CA, but since coming to Seattle in 2007 has embraced everything the city has to offer (except, of course, the weather).

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