Making cents of salary negotiations: Can benefits replace higher pay?

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Payment dayA recent CareerBuilder survey looked at how employers and workers approach salary negotiation, revealing alternative ways companies are attracting in-demand workers.

According to the nationwide survey of nearly 3,000 workers and 2,000 employers, 45 percent of employers aren’t just willing, but actually expect, to negotiate salaries for initial job offers. Yet those employers that aren’t willing to or can’t negotiate higher salaries are in luck: 49 percent of workers surveyed say they are willing to take the first offer.

When asked what they do to meet candidates halfway and stay competitive, most employers say they are willing to discuss alternative benefits, such as:

  • Flexible schedules: 33 percent
  • More vacation time: 19 percent
  • Telecommute at least once per week: 15 percent
  • Pay for mobile device: 14 percent

Thirty-eight percent of employers say they would not be able to provide anything.

Salary negotiation: Who’s pushing back?
While nearly half of workers are willing to take the first offer, when broken down by age, gender and industry, older workers, men and those in professional and business industries are the most likely groups to try to negotiate higher salaries.

  • Fifty-five percent of workers 35 or older typically negotiate the first offer, while only 45 percent of workers ages 18-34 do the same.
  • Men (54 percent) are more likely than women (49 percent) to negotiate first offers.
  • Professional and 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 (54 percent) workers.

When do employers talk about salary?
Nearly half of employers surveyed bring up salary during the first job interview, while 24 percent say they don’t reveal what the position pays until the job offer is extended. Eleven percent of employers say they include wage or salary information in their job postings.

How are employers basing pay?
About a third of employers base their compensation offers on what their competitors pay, and another third look at market average reports. The last third say they don’t factor in external pay information at all, a move that could ultimately hurt them, according to Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder’s vice president of human resources.

“Forty-nine percent of hiring managers surveyed said job candidates have refused salary offers,” Haefner says. “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.”

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