Survey: More Professionals Are Negotiating Salary and Benefits

Experts offer tips for discussing salary, perks

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek May 10, 2019
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Survey: More Professionals Are Negotiating Salary and Benefits

Global staffing firm Robert Half found an uptick over last year in professionals trying to negotiate a higher salary. In 2018, 68 percent of men and 45 percent of women tried negotiating; in 2017, 46 percent of men and 34 percent of women did so.

The findings are from an online survey conducted in the third quarters of 2018 and 2017. The responses are from more than 2,700 workers employed in office environments, and more than 2,800 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees and located throughout 28 major U.S. cities.

"Job seekers with specialized skills are in high demand and may even be entertaining multiple offers," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, in a news release. "With the odds in their favor, it's little wonder more professionals are comfortable negotiating not only salary, but also nonmonetary benefits, such as vacation days, flexible schedules and professional development."

Savvy companies, he added, realize they must move quickly on hiring decisions to win top candidates, and that includes presenting compensation and perks packages at least on par with their competition.

Robert Half and Peg Buchenroth, HR director at Addison Group, a Chicago-based national staffing, consultancy and executive-search firm, offered the following advice for negotiating pay:

  • Do your research about your industry. 
"Know your worth in the marketplace. That will serve you well in any negotiation," Buchenroth said. Economic Research Institute and online sites such as Salary.com are some resources to try.

*Know your employer's compensation practices. Some organizations have very structured pay scales and ranges, or they don't provide pay increases outside the annual performance-review cycle. Also, entry-level jobs do not typically have much room for pay negotiation, and union shops have set pay scales.

"Trying to negotiate five levels above [your current pay range] won't fly. In the absence of a structured pay scale, the door's open [for negotiation]," Buchenroth said.

  • Job candidates should be aware that employers expect to discuss a desired salary in the first or second interview. Once employers indicate they would like to make an offer, consider it an invitation to ask some questions.
Begin with questions about benefits and other compensation topics before discussing salary. If the company does not bring up pay when making the offer, don't hesitate to ask. Trying to negotiate a salary after you've signed the contract and agreed on a starting date is too late.

  • Prepare for the conversation, including practicing how and what you will say. You should be able to articulate your value to the organization and how that value warrants a salary increase.
"That is so very important and is a piece that doesn't get as much attention," Buchenroth said. "Focus on your competencies and what you bring to the table that is going to progress the company's overall goals. Give examples to back that up."

Consider, too, telling your supervisor that you have proven yourself ready to take on more responsibility.

Keep the conversation professional, and avoid giving personal reasons for the request, such as needing a new roof for your house.

Know what you want and handle it in a single negotiation. Negotiating your base salary and perks in separate conversations is an approach usually met with frustration on the employer's side, Buchenroth noted.

Negotiations can be about items other than pay, such as workplace flexibility or more vacation days. If achieving a base increase of your desired amount is unlikely, focus on something other than base salary.

"It used to always be about the base salary, but I find there are different wants and motivations of workers today. Some may prefer something else that they feel is just as valuable as the extra $2,000 or $5,000."

  • Get everything in writing, and ensure the document is signed by both you and the employer.





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