Despite the country’s tight labor market, most American workers did not try to negotiate their pay at their last job offer. Rather, only 39% made an attempt to lock down a higher salary simply because most were too afraid to ask for more money, according to a study released earlier this month by global staffing firm Robert Half. As a result, many employees accepted salaries that are below their worth.
“People tend to think it’s hard to do,” Trisha Plovie, regional vice president of human resource consulting firm Robert Half in Troy, Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press. “It can be uncomfortable to negotiate in an interview situation and some people may be fearful that by negotiating, the company may decide not to make them an offer.” In actuality, however, the labor market is tight right now, which means that employees have more leverage to find jobs, earn more, and are less likely to be passed over than just a few years ago, she said.
The study, which surveyed 2,700 workers in 27 metropolitan cities across the country, also found that the likelihood that workers will ask for a higher wage is based on three factors: gender, age, and location.
The study reveals that 46% of men negotiated their salary compared to 34% of women. This statistic comes as little surprise since female workers have historically struggled when it comes to negotiating compensation. Men, on the other hand, are more confident and effective when it comes to seeking what they want at the negotiation table, past studies show. They are also quicker to turn down an offer they don’t like and even get insulted if presented with an offer they feel doesn’t value their worth.
Forty-five percent of millennials between 18 and 34 years old were more likely to negotiate salary compared to 40% of Gen X workers, ages 35 to 54, and 30% of baby boomers, ages 55 and up. According to Plovie, younger workers and recent college grads have the advantage of entering “super hot employment markets.”
Plus, millennials, unlike older generations, don’t plan or expect to stay at one company their whole careers so they want to get as much pay as early as they can, says Chanel Hampton, the founder and president of Strategic Community Partners in Detroit.
Among those surveyed, 55% who asked for more money live in New York. Other top metro areas for negotiations are Dallas and San Francisco, where 51% and 50% of professionals asked for more pay, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, just 24% of job seekers in Indianapolis tried to negotiate pay at their last job offer.
“For many people, it boils down to confidence,” Hampton said. “A lot of people don’t realize negotiating is an option.”
Want to get paid what you’re worth? Here are 10 tips to sharpen your negotiation skills.