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Posted: Monday, 26 August 2013 5:46AM

Job candidates urged to negotiate salary

If you're dissatisfied with your salary, you may be the one to blame.

According to a new survey by CareerBuilder, accepting an initial job offer could potentially leave money on the table.

And, apparently, that's what a lot of folks do.

"49 percent of Americans don't negotiate their salary," says Dr. Michelle Johnston, Associate Professor of Management at Loyola College of Business.

And, she says that's a big mistake. She says, if you're a desirable prospect, you ought to try and get yourself the best deal possible.

"If you're the person that they want for the job, absolutely. You have every right and you should negotiate your salary."

"Never take the first offer," she says. "You don't bring up salary during the interview. But, by the time you get an offer and the company has decided that you're the person that they want...at that point, definitely negotiate a higher salary."

According to a new survey by CareerBuilder, what you need to keep in mind is that many employers expect to negotiate, so they don't necessarily give you their best offer up front.

"You can at least try," says Johnston. "And, if you're the person that they want, they're going to do whatever they can to get you. And, if they don't have the money, they'll be honest and say 'Look, this is the best we can do right now...but perhaps we can put some incentives in your pay plan...we can work with you'."

The survey found that a new hire's willingness to negotiate the first job offer typically has something to do with gender and experience.

"Women do not negotiate, Johnston says. "They take the first offer on the table...it never occurs to them. Whereas, most men are in the habit of saying 'Okay, that's fine. I like that offer, but let's work with that. Can you give me a little more money'."

The survey doesn't show quite that difference.

According to CareerBuilder, about 54% of men don't accept the first offer without a discussion, compared to 49% of women. Fifty-five percent of workers age 35 or older negotiate the job offer, while just 45% of those age 18 to 34 do the same.

Industry also plays a role. Professional and business services workers are the most likely to negotiate salary (56%), followed by information technology (55%), leisure and hospitality (55%) and sales workers (54%).

Of course, for some entry-level roles, the employer may offer a standard amount that they're not willing to change. And, it's best to research the trends and salaries in your particular field and be aware of the norms.

"I think, when you're talking about the higher positions in organizations, individuals feel a little bit more confident and comfortable to negotiate and counter on the offers that have been given to them," says Johnston. "But, even at the entry level or a first job, I do advise my students, both graduate and undergraduates...that, once they have been designated the person the organization wants...you can say 'I was hoping for a little more'."

Johnston says she understands the hesitancy. 

"I do think, with this economy, people are scared to death. They're so thrilled to get a job, that...who in the world is going to have the confidence to say 'Yeah, but I'm worth a whole lot more than that, you know?'"

But she says that's exactly what they ought to do.

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