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Hiring Executives More Open to Salary Negotiations, Survey Finds

By SHRM Online staff  2/3/2012
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Job seekers who want potential employers to "show them the money" may be in luck, new Robert Half survey results suggest. More than one-third (38 percent) of surveyed chief financial officers (CFOs) said they were more willing to negotiate salary with top candidates at the start of 2012 than they were one year earlier. Just 5 percent said they were less willing to negotiate.

The survey, developed by staffing firm Robert Half International, was based on telephone interviews with more than 1,600 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. and Canadian companies with 20 or more employees. 

CFOs were asked, "Compared to 12 months ago, are you more willing or less willing to negotiate salary with top job candidates?"

Much more willing


Somewhat more willing


No change


Somewhat less willing


Doesn't apply/not hiring


Much less willing


Source: Robert Half International

"Job seekers, especially those with skills in high demand, are gaining leverage in salary discussions today," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, in a released statement. "Still, there are many things that can go wrong when negotiating pay, and candidates should approach these discussions with a clear understanding of how far they should take the conversation."

Common Candidate Mistakes

Messmer advised job seekers to avoid common mistakes regarding salary negotiations, including:

Don't jump the gun. Wait for the hiring manager to bring up salary in the discussion, and make sure you fully understand the requirements of the position before answering questions about your desired pay. Ask prospective employers what they think would be an appropriate range for the position so you can avoid giving a range that is too high or low.

Go for your goal. If offered a salary figure that doesn't meet your expectations, it's OK to request additional compensation. Employers may start at the lower end of their salary range, leaving room to negotiate.

Don't bluff. It's never a good move to mislead a prospective employer about current compensation or other higher-paying job offers in an effort to get more money. Instead, reiterate the value you can bring to the firm, and be honest about your desired salary.

Think beyond the paycheck. Be sure to look at the full picture when evaluating a job offer. A generous benefits package or opportunities to learn and grow with the company may compensate for a lower starting salary, for example.

End on a high note. If negotiations aren’t successful and you decide to walk away from an offer, remember to do so gracefully. You never know when you might cross paths with the hiring manager again.

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