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Here’s How Many Employers Will Negotiate Starting Salary

It pays to negotiate salary, especially when starting a new job. Experts have determined that not negotiating could cost you as much as $1 million in earnings over the course of your career.
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Still, many don’t do it. PayScale’s data show that 57 percent of workers have never negotiated salary in their current field. A new study from CareerBuilder reveals similar findings for starting salaries: 56 percent of workers say they don’t ask for more before taking a new job. Why are workers leaving potential earnings on the negotiation table so frequently?

Workers Have Reasons for Not Negotiating

According to CareerBuilder’s research, which was based upon the online survey responses of 3,462 employees and 2,369 hiring and human resource managers, over half of workers do not negotiate for a higher salary when they’re offered a job.

Respondents gave various explanations for holding back. Fifty-one percent said they simply didn’t feel comfortable asking for more money. Forty-seven percent said they were afraid that the employer wouldn’t hire them if they negotiated. And, 36 percent of respondents said that they didn’t negotiate because they were afraid it would make them seem greedy.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said they were afraid that the employer wouldn't hire them if they negotiated. Click To Tweet

Other research has revealed similar results — namely that people worry about the consequences of negotiating. Women and millennials don’t negotiate salary at the same rate as other groups. (This doesn’t help their own individual bottom lines, and it doesn’t help close the gender pay gap either.) These workers may have good reason for shying away.

For example, women negotiate less because people react negatively when they do. Research from Hannah Riley Bowles, Linda Babcock and Lei Lai found that when women negotiate their salaries, both men and women are less likely to want to work with them or hire them. It’s important to stop blaming workers for not negotiating, and instead seek to understand why they opt out. Asking people why they don’t negotiate is a good step.

Employers Often Leave Room for Negotiation

There is another important piece of the negotiation puzzle that workers should consider: These survey results reveal that many employers expect new hires to negotiate their salaries.

Fifty-two percent of employers said that when they offer a prospective employee a job, they offer less than they’re willing to pay in order to leave room for negotiation. Among that group, 26 percent said that their initial offer is $5,000 or more less than what they’d ultimately be willing to pay.

Today’s employers know that the current job market is competitive. Sixty-three percent said that they have to pay workers more because of the importance of securing good talent in a competitive market. Still, for lots of complex reasons, many workers still don’t ask for more money.

Workers Say They Want to Earn More

According to the CareerBuilder report, many workers aren’t happy with their current salaries and would like to earn more. Seventy-nine percent said that they aren’t currently earning their desired salary. And, 36 percent they don’t earn anywhere near it. This is a problem that starts early in a career and continues from there. Seventy-one percent of workers said that they have accepted a job when they knew that their skills and experience were worth more than they were paid.

Workers should consider bellying up to the negotiation table when offered a new job, despite the challenges. It helps to feel prepared for these conversations. Use the PayScale Salary Survey to determine what you should be paid and check out the Salary Negotiation Guide for other tips. Negotiations provide workers with the opportunity to earn more — don’t leave anything on the table.

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Melinda Rooks
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How do you negotiate a State salary?

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