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Making Cents of Salary Negotiations: Can Benefits Replace Higher Pay?

Man sitting behind desk in office holding one hundred dollar bill. (MR)A new CareerBuilder survey looks 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, nearly half of employers (45 percent) are not only willing – but also expect – to negotiate salaries for initial job offers. Those who aren’t willing to – or can’t – negotiate higher salaries are in luck, however, as 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, the majority of employers say they are willing to discuss alternative benefits, such as the following:

  • 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 said they would not be able to provide anything.

Salary Negotiation: Who’s Pushing Back?

While nearly half of workers overall 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 age 18-34 do the same.
  • Men (54 percent) are more likely than women (49 percent) to negotiate first 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?

Nearly half of employers surveyed (48 percent) bring up salary during initial conversations during the first job interview, while 24 percent said they don’t reveal what the position pays until they extend the job offer. Eleven percent of employers said they include wage or salary information in their job postings.

How are employers basing pay?

Approximately one 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 compensation at all, a move that could ultimately hurt employers, 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,” said Haefner in a statement for the press release. “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.”