(MoneyWatch) If you're not negotiating a job offer, you might be leaving money on the table -- and you'd have plenty of company. A new CareerBuilder survey of 2,076 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 2,999 U.S. workers found that 49 percent of employees don't negotiate job offers, even though 45 percent of employers are game for a little back and forth. Age was a key factor, with 55 percent of workers 35 years old and older not automatically accepting a first offer and only 45 percent of those between 18 and 24 years old doing the same. And while 54 percent of men entered into salary negotiation, slightly less -- 49 percent -- of women did.
I spoke to Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, for his take on these interesting results:
MoneyWatch: What was surprising to you about these results?
Brent Rasmussen: It was a little surprising that 38 percent of employers said that if they couldn't meet a candidate's salary requirements, that they wouldn't be able to provide any additional perks like alternative work arrangements, more vacation time, a higher title, etc. For some entry-level roles, the employer may offer a standard package that they're not willing to change. But when it comes to high skill positions where the recruiting environment may be more competitive, companies need flexibility in what they can offer to secure the new hire.
MW: Were some employers willing to offer something else in lieu of greater salary?
BR: One third of employers said they are open to offering flexible schedules while 15 percent said they would allow employees to telecommute once a week. This reflects the growing emphasis companies are placing on providing a good work/life balance for their employees as they look to strengthen recruitment and retention efforts within their organizations.
MW: Why is it so unfortunate that half of candidates accept the initial offer?
BR: Many employers expect to negotiate, so they don't necessarily give you their best offer up front. If you jump on the initial offer, you may not see the full potential of what that employer is willing to pay you.
MW: Why do you think older workers were more willing to negotiate?
BR: Seasoned workers have more experience with negotiating, and they also have a longer work history to showcase skills and barter over the value they can bring to an organization.
MW: Why is it crucial for hiring mangers and candidates to have up-do-date industry salary stats?
BR: Employers who are not effectively tracking current compensation trends and staying competitive with wages for in-demand labor will be at a disadvantage. For candidates, you have a much better chance of making your case for higher compensation when you come to the discussion armed with third party research on average compensation for the job in your geographic area. It helps to validate the market value you are assigning to your expertise and experience.