A failure to negotiate job offers means many workers are leaving money on the table. A new CareerBuilder survey finds that even though 45 percent of employers are willing—and expect—to negotiate salaries for initial job offers, almost half (49 percent) of workers accept the first offer given to them.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder this summer, among a representative sample of nearly 3,000 full-time, private-sector, U.S. workers and more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals. Its questions explored how both sides of the table approach salary negotiations and looked at compensation trends for the upcoming year. 

Who is most likely to negotiate? 

The survey found that a new hire’s willingness to negotiate the first job offer usually comes with more experience. Fifty-five (55) percent of workers 35 or older typically negotiate the first offer, which is significantly higher than workers age 18-34 (45 percent). In addition, men (54 percent) are more likely than women (49 percent) to negotiate first offers.

Industry plays less of a part in negotiating offers. Professional& business services workers (56 percent) are the most likely to negotiate salary, followed by, information technology (55 percent), leisure and hospitality (55 percent), and sales workers (54 percent).

When do employers talk about salary?

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

About one third of employers keep track of what competitors pay comparable employees via job postings (33 percent) or market average reports (34 percent), but many (35 percent) don’t factor in external compensation at all. Haefner notes 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.”

Although, more than one-third (38 percent) said they would not be able to provide anything, if unable to meet the job candidate’s salary requirements, a majority of employers are willing to provide alternative benefits. Employers said they would offer the following:

  • flexible schedule: 33 percent
  • more vacation time: 19 percent
  • telecommute at least once per week: 15 percent
  • pay for mobile device: 14 percent.

“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 are oftentimes undervaluing their market worth,” says 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.”