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Leaving Money On the Table: Survey Finds 58% of Millennials Aren’t Negotiating Salary

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Salary negotiation is a crucial step when job-hunting, as upfront negotiations could establish your financial trajectory for years to come. Unfortunately, new research shows that the majority of Millennials aren’t negotiating, and with entry-level salaries coming in way under those of previous generations, Gen Y young professionals may be doing themselves a major disservice.

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We asked 1,000 Millennials whether or not they’ve ever negotiated their salary, and the results were surprising. 

Our Findings: Key Takeaways

  1. 58% of Millennials have not negotiated their salary
  2. Women were 1.3x more likely to report being happy with their current rate of pay than men\
  3. 1 in 4 have not negotiated their salary because they didn’t know how
  4. 1 in 10 have not negotiated their salary because they’re scared of the consequences
  5. The majority of salary negotiations prove successful

Let’s take a deeper dive into these survey results.

1. 58% of Millennials have not negotiated their salary

The majority of Millennials surveyed said they had never negotiated their salary. So, why are young professionals reluctant to fight for more? Of those surveyed who said they did not negotiate, reasoning was as follows:

  • I’m happy with my current rate of pay 
  • I don’t know how to negotiate my salary
  • I was scared of the consequences

According to recent data, Millennials’ starting salaries are approximately 20% less than Baby Boomers made at the same age, and 4% less than Generation X did at the same age. Failing to negotiate, regardless of reasoning, could mean leaving a great deal of money on the table.

2. Women were 1.3x more likely to report being happy with their current rate of pay

When surveyed, 23.82% of respondents said they hadn’t negotiated their salary because they were happy with their current rate of pay. However, there was a disparity between male and female respondents. Women were 1.3X more likely to say they were happy with their current rate of pay when compared to their male colleagues. These results are interesting, as on average, women are still being paid 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, and researchers predict that this pay gap will continue through the 23rd century.

3. Almost 1 in 4 people haven’t asked for a salary increase because they didn’t know how

Millennials may be short-changing their own earning potential by failing to learn proper negotiation skills. Lack of knowledge kept 25% of survey respondents from asking for more money. 

Learning how to negotiate your salary and becoming comfortable with these types of conversations in a professional setting could increase your lifetime earning potential exponentially. Make it a point to research proper negotiation skills and position yourself (and your wallet) for success.

4. 1 in 10 Millennials were scared of the consequences of negotiating their salary

Just over 10% of those surveyed said they had never negotiated their salaries because they were concerned about the consequences. This apprehension is in stark contrast with the thoughts of recruiters.

According to a JobVite survey, salary negotiation does not deter the majority of recruiters from hiring candidates who negotiated their salary. More than 43% of recruiters said salary negotiation had no impact on hiring, while a surprising 19% of recruiters said such negotiations can actually have a positive impact on the hiring process. In fact, only 10% of recruiters said that salary negotiations impact their job offerings. 

5. 39.5% of Millennials surveyed have negotiated their salary

Negotiating your salary can have positive results, and our survey respondents are proof of that. The 39.5% of survey respondents that did negotiate their salary experienced the following results:

  • I got what I asked for
  • My employer met me in the middle
  • I didn’t get what I asked for

Something to note about the above responses: none are negative. The majority of those who chose to negotiate ended up getting what they asked for, and 30.4% found that their employer was willing to compromise and meet them in the middle.

Why Salary Negotiation is Important

Failing to negotiate your salary can affect your earning potential for years to come. Here are some important reasons you should work with your employer to make what you deserve:

  • There are no negative outcomes: Unless your request is unprofessional, there is generally no negative impact of salary negotiation. When requesting a salary increase, there are three potential outcomes: your employer says no, your employer meets you halfway, or your employer meets or exceeds your request. Bottom line, you can reasonably expect only neutral and positive outcomes, no negative impact.
  • Your employer may be coming in low: Employers are profits-focused and incentivized to pay you as little as possible. Many employers admit to offering salaries that are slightly-to-moderately lower than the average rate. If you accept that figure, no questions asked, you’ll be setting yourself up to make less in the long run.
  • You can increase your lifetime earning potential: Negotiating for a higher salary upfront sets up your career trajectory more favorably. By negotiating now, you could reap the rewards for years to come.

Let’s take a look at this in action:

If both employees continue to work at the company in question until retiring at age 60, Hunter will have tapped out earning potential at $86,705, while Jordan will have reached $111,574 per year — all thanks to salary negotiation. 

Final Notes

While the majority of Millennials aren’t negotiating their salaries, those that do tend to experience positive results. Consider the benefits of working with your employer to earn what you think you’re worth, and increase your lifetime earning potential and download our full infographic here.


This study consisted of one question conducted using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. The survey ran between December 6th – December 10th, 2019.


Written by Mint

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