Workshop teaches students how to negotiate their salaries


The Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity hosted a workshop to teach Iowa State students how to negotiate their salary when starting a new job.

Ashley Martinez-Torres

The Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity hosted a workshop to teach Iowa State students how to negotiate their salary when starting a new job.

Cara Stone, the instruction librarian for Parks Library, was the speaker at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshop on Wednesday in Carver Hall Room 0204. Food was provided for students that attended the event.

The main focus of the workshop was four key steps to negotiating a person’s salary during an interview and after a person is hired.

Stone started her presentation by talking about the gender pay gap, the difference between what average working women and men are paid and how it affects women. Women working full time in the U.S. were typically paid 82 percent of men’s salaries in 2018, a gap of 18 percent, according to AAUW.

During “Step 1: Know Your Value” activities, students could talk with each other and ask Stone questions. The students said they enjoyed these activities because it helped them think about their own value as employees, their accomplishments and their contributions, past or present.

“Sometimes when you think about experience, you can be like, ‘But I haven’t worked in the field for two years, what do I do?’” Stone said. “One, you already have a start somewhere; two, your internships, your school projects, things that help you build your skills, [they all] count.”

“Step 2: Know Your Target Salary and Benefits” provided salary research resources for students that are still figuring out their salary range depending on the job descriptions. It also focused on creating a realistic monthly budget to help set up a person’s target salary range, so they know when to walk away from a low-paying job.

“Aim for the middle or above, that can be your salary range,” Stone said.

Stone also said that when a person is negotiating their salary, they should get the money for the person’s value, not only for the expenses that a person has. For example, if a person says they need more money because they have to pay their car insurance instead of because his or her job is valuable to the employer, the employer would most likely decline the raise.

“Step 3: Know Your Strategy” focused on planning for negotiating a salary once a person is offered a job or hired by a company. Students learned what they should do during an interview, when to negotiate the salary during the interview and how to respond to employers that avoid discussing talking about an increase in salary once they start working or have been working with the company but not feeling comfortable with the amount they are earning.

“Negotiation is not a battle,” Stone said. “You’re not going to dig your heels in. It’s a conversation; you know whether or not you want to work there, so have that conversation. Don’t get personal, don’t talk about daycare costs, don’t talk about your mortgage. It’s about the value that you bring.”

“Step 4: Practice, Practice, Practice!” began with an activity where students had to work in pairs and act as employers and employees to practice negotiating salaries and benefits.

“It’s hard,” Stone said. “It’s awkward that [the employers] are staring at you, and you know you just want to please them and just give them an answer [about your salary]. That’s what the interview is about, but at the same time, you want to make sure it’s a good fit for everybody.”

Students said the exercise was indeed awkward but that it really helped them to try and fight for their desired salary in a positive, professional and functional way.

Besides Stone’s lecture and comments, students also shared their own tips and experiences with the rest of the group about internships and past jobs.

“Through this [workshop], we are going to learn how to be cheerleaders for ourselves because we are always like, ‘[Our achievements] are not important,’” Stone said. “But when we are actually out there, we have to be confident in a way that we can show our own value.”