Workshop teaches negotiation of salaries and job offers


Quinn Vandenberg/ Iowa State Daily

Bria Jenkins, lecturer of apparel, events and hospitality management, discusses negotiation skills with Dyese Matthews, graduate student in apparel, events and hospitality management, during the “Salary and Offer Negotiation Workshop” Thursday.

Quinn Vandenberg

Iowa State’s College of Human Sciences Career Services department hosted a “Salary and Offer Negotiation Workshop,” on Thursday in the LeBaron Conference Room 1009.

Approximately 35 participants attended the workshop, a majority of which were students from Iowa State’s College of Human Sciences.

As attendees entered the conference room, a television monitor displayed statistics on negotiation, emphasizing the importance of the topic; 90 percent of employers don’t retract offers due to an entry level candidate trying to negotiate, 74 percent of employers increase first offers from 5 to 10 percent in negotiations and 62 percent of new graduates do not negotiate salary.

Amanda Schickel, recruiting and career coordinator for the College of Human Sciences Student Services, led the workshop with a presentation and engaged the participants in discussion.

Schickel asked attendees why graduates may choose not to discuss starting salary with a new employer.

Responses included fear of offending an employer or losing a job prospect, feeling pressure to accept from lack of background knowledge on salaries and excitement about being offered a position at all.

Schickel said candidates who chose not to negotiate can be missing out on large amounts of money over time. Raises are usually based on a percentage of an employees salary. A smaller initial salary leads to smaller raises.

After stressing the importance of proper negotiation, Schickel described how and when to negotiate.

“We recommend waiting until you have an offer on the table to begin the negotiation process,” Schickel said. “If you wait until the end, when you have that offer you know that they’re interested, they want you for that position and you have a little bit more power at that time to truly negotiate with them.”

Schickel said once an offer is given, candidates should ask for time to consider the offer and conduct research on salary when looking for a job.

“I wouldn’t just go to one resource and research it and call it good,” Schickel said. “I’d look at a lot of different things cause you might see different things.”

Schickel said she recommends or as starting points for people conducting research on starting salaries.

Schickel also presented a portion of a Career Outcomes Report. The College of Human Services Career Center collects concrete data on graduates to compile information on average starting salaries for different majors. The career center has these numbers available to students and staff.

The workshop included conversation skills. Schickel advised job candidates to “take a breath” and always say thank you when receiving an offer before asking when the employer needs a response to the job offer.

“What you say and how you say it is really crucial to the negotiation process,” Schickel said. “Regardless of whether or not you want to accept the offer you want to thank them […]. They’ve spent a lot of time interviewing you. You want to make sure they feel appreciated in this process.”

When it comes time to consider the offer, Schickel said benefits other than money should be taken into account such as learning experiences, leadership roles or the work environment provided by the employer.

When responding to a job offer, Schickel said negotiating over the phone to get a feel of the employer’s flexibility is preferable to negotiating over email or letter.

A slide titled “When Calling Back,” provided guidelines on how to return to a job offer for a negotiation. The tips for it included reiterating interest in the job, indicating reservations on thanking the job and asking for flexibility on the salary.

Sarah Brix, senior in early childhood education, said her biggest takeaway from the workshop event was to choose her words wisely and never use the word ‘negotiate.’

Schickel said if an employer is unwilling to be flexible with a salary, other areas of the offer may still be able to be negotiated. These aspects include discussion of a sign-on bonus, start date, relocation assistance and work schedule.

Schickel ended her presentation with a scenario practice where participants partnered up and pretended they were beginning salary negotiations for a position as a wellness coordinator.

Participants in the workshop conducted the exercise with smiles and head nods. Some participants acted as if their negotiation was over the phone. The attendees took on different roles, some acted as the employer and others acted as the students discussing salary.

A follow-up discussion followed the exercise about the different areas of negotiating and what the participants knew about it.

Jodi Wilson, education graduate student, said she learned about the event from an email sent to her by Career Services Center.

“I will be job searching here soon and it seemed like an important set of skills to have while going into that process,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she plans on moving away from the Ames area and knowing the resources provided by the Career Services Center will help her feel more comfortable throughout the negotiation process.

The workshop closed with Schickel advising participants who want more information to schedule an appointment with Career Services through CyHire or visiting the Career Services Center of their college.