(Re)present yourself: work place negotiations
April 11, 2011 —
While Career Services and Diversity Programs wanted to show students how to better present themselves in March, Mother Nature had something to present as well. As a result the event was rescheduled for last week.
The panel of speakers consisted of Megan Biskup, an associate from Career Services, Mamie Thorns, an SVSU professor and special assistant to the president for Diversity Programs, and Stacy Erwin Oakes, the 95th District state representative.
“Lessons are indeed taught until they are learned,” said Oakes.
The event was co-sponsored by Student å and the Organization of Black Unity.
The first presenter was Biskup, who began with a Minority Salary Negotiation Seminar, presenting tips and information about work place attire and negotiation during an interview.
“A winning resume and cover letter is what will get you in the door,” Biskup said.
A tip for interview attire for women is to avoid wearing large amounts of make-up or strong scented perfume. Men should be aware of mismatched socks, strong scented cologne and wrinkled suits and dress shirts.
Before the interview, interviewees should treat everyone respectfully, because they never know who makes the hiring decisions.
“The key,” Biskup said,” is to treat everyone like a decision maker.”
Another tip from Career Services is to have someone review your resume and cover letter.
“Resumes shine light on what you can bring to the organization,” Biskup said.
To impress future employers, students could use the Star Approach to answer interview questions. The Star Approach is a way of answering questions through phrasing responses around situation, task, action and result.
Another helpful tip is to remember etiquette. Interviewees should not sit until offered a seat, and posture and eye contact are also an important first impression.
During the presentation, Biskup spoke about making negotiations at the end of an interview about salary and benefits.
“Negotiations are conversations,” Biskup said, “ that you have with the employer.
There is “wiggle room” in a negotiation where interviewees can increase their benefits, such as extra vacation or sick time.
When employers argue that hires only get a certain wage and benefits, Biskup suggests to ask to be reviewed later on for further benefits.
During her research into minority work place statistics, Biskup found that 57 men compared to seven women asked for more money after their initial offer.
“You only get one chance,” Biskup said, “to do the negotiating.”
“I would definitely ask about benefits,” agreed Rena Williams, elementary education sophomore, because negotiating with the employer is the only way to earn a larger salary.
Biskup’s statistics showed that those who negotiated received an average of $4,053 more than those who did not.
She later explained that companies often do credit checks on future employees to see if they are financially responsible. She suggests building up a credit score early, and paying the bill on time.
Thorns opened the panel up for a discussion about diversity at SVSU, as well as in the workplace.
“The world is flat,” Thorns said, “and here at SVSU I try to show how diversity is important.”
Thorns has more than 30 years of administrative experience in higher education and teaching at the grade school level. She now serves as primary adviser to the president of Diversity Programs at SVSU. She helps to promote a diverse campus environment.
“These companies told me to tell you,” Thorns said, “that you need to know how to interact with people that don’t look like you.”
Thorns stressed that working, communication and interaction with the diverse students at SVSU will show to future employers that interviewees can interact.
Employers look for cultural experience, and Thorns suggest that students take study abroad trips during their college careers. These trips show employers that interviewees know how to react in a global environment.
“We want to create a campus at SVSU that values diversity and inclusion,” Thorns said.
With five generations now in the work place, future employees have to communicate with a large, diverse group of individuals.
Speaking about diversity and student affairs, Oakes, the first woman elected as state representative from that district, said simply “Get over it. At the end of the day, you have to present yourself.”
Oakes spoke about prejudice, in both the workplace and in places such as Saginaw, and how it still exists.
“Stay faithful at all times,” Williams agreed, “and focus on the goal.”
Biskup, Thorns and Oakes agreed that with determination and devotion toward a goal, that dreams can be achieved.
“As long as you have the package, the skills, degree,” Thorns said, “you go for it.”