Forty-five percent of hiring employers are receptive to applicants asking for more

In today's economy, you might expect it to be a given that job seekers and job holders are just happy to have a job offer or a job, respectively. Although seemingly counterintuitive in this climate, a new survey from CareerBuilder indicates that almost one-half of employers are willing and expect to entertain salary negotiations with qualified applicants, but about the same numbers of applicants grab the first offer given to them. As a result, it seems that some applicants are leaving money on the table, and some managers are holding the line on starting pay more than expected. And where the ask is made but cannot be met, there are interesting alternatives explored, likely to both sides' mutual satisfaction.

The nationwide survey: conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 14 to June 5, 2013, 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: explored how both sides of the table approach salary negotiations.

Who Is Most Likely to Negotiate?

Age: The survey found that 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 18-34 (45%).

Gender: Men (54%) are more likely than women (49%) to negotiate first offers.

Industry: Professional and business services workers (56%) are the most likely to negotiate salary, followed by information technology (55%), leisure and hospitality (55%) and sales workers (54%).

What Do Employers Offer If Unable to Meet Salary Demands?

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%
  • More vacation time: 19%
  • Telecommute at least once per week: 15%
  • Pay for mobile device: 14%

Thirty-eight percent said they would not be able to provide anything.

When Do Employers Talk About Salary?

While 11% of employers include wage or salary information in their job listings, 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.

How Are Employers Basing Pay?

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. Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, 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."