Knowing one’s personal value is the first step in negotiating salary and even choosing a major, the assistant director of career services said April 4 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
Clarissa Tejeda gave the advice in her talk “Let’s Negotiate! Tips on How to Talk Salary.”
It was the last presentation of the Money Smart Week series hosted in the Science and Technology Building, home to the Mays Center for Experiential Learning and Community Engagement.
“Know your own personal value,” said Tejeda, whose office is part of the Mays Center. “Step one of salary negotiation is also step one of career and major exploration. A lot of times students may come in (to the center) not knowing what their options are with their major or even what major to pick.”
Tejeda encouraged the 10 attendees to ask themselves, “What are things that I’m drawn to? What are my natural passions and my talents?”
By answering these questions, students can hone their talents for their career and increase their likelihood of being solid for salary negotiation.
Tejeda said many university students and new graduates won’t negotiate salary because they lack confidence. She said a NerdWallet survey revealed 62% of recent college graduates did not attempt to negotiate salary.
“Don’t accept the first offer; have a conversation,” Tejeda said.
The survey also found that 90% of employers have never retracted an offer because an entry-level candidate tried to negotiate salary.
“Are you on par with experienced interviewees?” Tejeda asked the attendees.
Tejeda broke down salary negotiation into four steps; research oneself, research one’s company, leave emotion at the door and widen the package.
Employee, know thyself … and the company
“What’s your bottom line?” she said of researching oneself. “What can you survive with?”
Prospective employees should know the average salary range for their industry and what kind of financial impact they can make. This will help their pitch and help the employer in making their decision.
“Justify why you negotiate,” she said.
People should not say they want a bigger salary but why they deserve a bigger salary. And they must back up that statement. Some justifications could be they need work attire, relocation expenses or to repay student loans.
Tejeda also recommended asking for a range of salary versus an exact number.
Sometimes companies are unable to budge when it comes to salary. Other possible items for negotiation include bonuses, tuition reimbursement, overtime pay or even professional development opportunities.
If one’s offer is denied, remember to remain professional and respond without showing disappointment.
“I accept; however I want to revisit this,” Tejeda said, providing an example of a professional response.
Current employees should track their accomplishments before negotiating a salary.
“Start documenting all your wins,” Tejeda said, noting that tangible evidence helps employees open the conversation during a performance evaluation review.
“That’s the time for you to build your case,” Tejeda said.
She said this allows employees to assert, “I’m going to show you all the things I did this year and why you should consider me and you need to consider me for a raise.”
The second step is researching the company. Job applicants should know the cost of living in the states where the company has offices because maybe the company will relocate a new hire to a state or ZIP code with a different cost of living.
“Are they fiscally healthy?” Tejeda asked. She provided examples of questions to ask before going into a salary negotiation, such as: “Are they having growth?”
Keep cool, consider other benefits
Remain professional and keep personal details out. “Leave emotion out,” she said, introducing the third step.
Saying that one has kids to feed or bills to pay to guilt the employer into raising the salary only gives the employer unnecessary information that could apply to most people.
The fourth step is to widen the package by negotiating more than just a salary.
“Be flexible,” Tejeda said. She recommended job candidates question the employer by asking “how are you going to invest in me?”
Salary is not just salary, Tejeda said. It’s the entire benefits package, including bonuses, retirement plans, paid vacation time and tuition reimbursements.
Career center guides students
Tejeda has been with the career center over five years. She said she performs “a mixture of career advisement, employee relations” and collaboration with faculty.
Tejeda said the Mays Center is a one-stop shop for career services.
“Our goal is to create career ‘ready’ students that are community-minded, meaning volunteerism is a big component of our services,” Tejeda said.
Tejeda said the Mays Center includes internship services. Students who want to intern should contact intern coordinator Kaelyn Dudley.
Additional career services consist of assistance with interviews, compiling resumes and even helping with what to wear to interviews.
Sherilynn Vineyard, 62, earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from A&M-San Antonio in spring 2018.
A full-time employee of Southwest Research Institute, Vineyard attended the presentation for information to assist her in making choices for her current career and retirement.
Vineyard said she also attended to network with the university and expand her networking in San Antonio.
Vineyard said Tejeda’s talk with informative handouts was “a great resource” that motivates her as she considers retirement or possibilities with other employers.
“There’s a little bit of a fear factor,” Vineyard admitted as she considers her options. She said Tejeda reassured her that companies are hiring older employees who want to continue working and contribute their value to employers.
Marketing senior Nicholas Long said he attended because it was beneficial to him to become more responsible.
“She came up with a lot of information that I found very viable,” Long said.
Danielle Lateef contributed to this story.