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Career coach offers guidance on wage negotiation

Career coach offers guidance on wage negotiation

By Ryan Spencer

Section: News

November 11, 2016

A workshop on Tuesday discussed wage negotiation tactics and tips to confront the wage gap which women often face in the workplace.

“The job offer itself is your leverage,” Erica Foss, the Assistant Director of Career Development at Brandeis told two graduate students with job offers and an undergraduate student. The interview process is a tedious and unenjoyable process for most employers so if you have an offer from a company, it means they want you and likely would prefer to negotiate than continue interviewing other applicants, according to Foss.

When it comes time to negotiate, “never be the first to name a salary figure,” Foss advised. A potential hiree has no clue what Human Resources (HR) has determined the wage range for the job is and saying a number too early can limit your ability to negotiate afterwards, Foss explained.

Maintaining a positive, persuasive and flexible tone during wage negotiations is important because both the potential hire and the employer want the same thing, according to Foss. “If I’m your hiring manager I want you to come on board and you want to come on board because you’re interested in accepting my offer,” said Foss. She advised against threatening to walk away from a negotiation or requesting a certain wage and refusing to budge.

Determining what a necessary wage is requires an assessment of your cost-of-living, according to Foss. A minimum baseline wage should be assessed that takes into account your cost-of-living, including the cost of commuting, housing, groceries, electric and water bills and more, according to Foss. However, “your baseline should never be your salary goal,” said Foss. “Salary isn’t about what you need to make to live, salary is exclusively about what the employer is willing to pay and how much value you bring to the table.”

Researching and knowing the typical salaries for the type of job that is being offered is important when going into negotiations, according to Foss. Websites such as salary.com or glassdoor.com can offer insight into salary trends for certain jobs. Factors such as region and type of company should be taken into account when researching wages, said Foss. Small start-ups will tend to have less to work with and therefore less room to negotiate, according to Foss, while larger companies often have more resources and more willingness to negotiate.

The workshop designated time to focus specifically on the wage gap between men and women in the workplace. Women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn and over the course of a lifetime that can come out to women making approximately $1 million less than men, according to Foss.

The wage gap exists across racial lines as well, according to Foss, with black women making 69 cents and Latina women making 57 cents to every one dollar a white man makes.

The extent of the wage gap tends to depend on the field of work, according to Foss. “In computer science that wage gap is slightly smaller…while in finance it’s a little bit bigger,” said Foss.

The wage gap is not about people explicitly saying, “I don’t think women should make as much as men,” rather, it is a manifestation of implicit bias, according to Foss. Assumptions about women leaving to raise a family or leaving to get married often unfairly affect their employer’s perception of them, according to Foss. “[These perceptions] are unconscious and that actually makes them really hard to fight,” said Foss.

While gender bias and stereotyping in the workplace are technically illegal, they are hard to prove, Foss told the three Brandeis students at the workshop.

The workshop, titled “Wage Project Negotiating Your First Job Salary” was part of The Dialogues, a series of discussions and events at Brandeis about race and gender.

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