If Greg Lee were on a job interview, the Kosciusko County resident says he knows what not to ask about – money.
These days its rough out there, said the snack food merchandiser. I feel sorry for the young kids because theyre just starting out and arent really making anything. You can forget about negotiating a salary because it is what it is. Companies know in this economy they can find someone else to fill a job if you dont want it. When you get an interview its, this is what we pay, take it or leave it.
But not so fast. A pair of CareerBuilder national surveys found that 45 percent of employers are willing – and expect – to negotiate salaries for initial job offers, but half the candidates accept the first offer.
The lingering effects of the Great Recession, high unemployment and other factors are reasons officials say some are hesitant to bring up money. For those who feel desperate, making it through the initial screening and interview process is a victory in itself.
Nearly 3,000 full-time, private sector U.S. workers and more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals were polled on their approach to salary negotiations.
The two separate worker and human resource surveys, conducted just before the start of summer and released in late August, have a sampling error of plus or minus 2.15 percentage points and 1.79 percentage points, respectively.
CareerBuilder, known for its jobs website, said workers are leaving money on the table when they dont bring up salary, but many say they dont dare mention it.
It is a very competitive job market and people might feel they dont have the same negotiating power that they would in a stronger economy, said Jennifer Grasz, a spokeswoman for CareerBuilder. I understand that. Its still very much an employers market.
In Indiana, unemployment in August dropped to a seasonally adjusted 8.1 percent in August from 8.4 percent in July. The state Department of Workforce Development said despite lower joblessness and gains in manufacturing, the private sector as a whole declined by 2,900 jobs.
Unemployment in metro Fort Wayne decreased to 7 percent in August from 8.5 percent in July, but hasnt necessarily emboldened job applicants, officials say.
Lee believes there are too many workers chasing too few jobs.
These companies know they dont have to be in a hurry to hire someone, the 60-year-old said. They can sit back and cherry-pick who they feel is the absolute best for the job.
Grasz said candidates do have the upper hand in some industries. For instance, information technology, engineering and health care are fields where negotiating power likely favors applicants.
Those are areas where theres a shortage of labor, she said. How a candidate feels about talking about salary will depend on the type of jobs theyre going for. Some will feel more confident in speaking about it.
The Career Builder surveys found that a new hires 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 the 45 percent of workers age 18 to 34 who do so.
Kevin Hunter is not looking for a job. He owns Windows Doors & More in Fort Wayne. The businessman believes he offers the industrys most competitive pay in the region. Hunter said workers at his company have a $60,000 median salary.
Thats why people come to us, because they know they dont have to negotiate salaries, he said. We already pay the top market rates and people know that.
Still, the home improvement business has had a difficult time snagging competent workers.
Thats why we are doing something a little bit different with the help-wanted billboard signs, he said.
The polls, meanwhile, revealed that men are more likely to negotiate first offers as 54 percent of males look to haggle, compared to 49 percent of females.
Many employers expect a salary negotiation and build that into their initial offer. So when job seekers take the first number given to them they are oftentimes undervaluing their market worth, Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said in a statement. Not every hiring manager will be able to raise the offer, but its never a bad idea to negotiate – especially if you have experience and possess in-demand, technical skills.
Burlington Coat Factory opened a store a week ago in Glenbrook Commons. The retailer has 50 full- and part-time workers. Manager Tracy Cummings said she realizes some candidates may deem negotiating salary risky. Cummings declined to provide a pay range for workers, but said it is above minimum wage and based on experience.
It is touchy, she said, but all of our experiences have been positive. If a person has a lot of experience, then we want to pay for that.
John Clark said thats only fair. The 47-year-old machine has 19 years of experience and doesnt bite his tongue when its time to talk money.
You should be paid what youre worth, the Fort Wayne resident said. As long as youre not asking for some crazy amount, theres nothing to be scared about.