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Learning your worth through salary negotiation

Negotiating salaries has been a taboo subject amongst women but the women and gender studies program wants to change that. Photo via women and gender studies program.

When it comes to knowing their worth and negotiating a salary, many students don’t know where to start.

This is why Bradley’s Women and Gender Studies program partnered with the American Association of University Women to put on a workshop to help students learn the basics of researching what a person should make in a given position, setting a target salary and negotiating a salary and benefits package.

To start out the event, which was hosted over Zoom on Wednesday, coordinators sent a survey to attendees to get an idea of what type of experience and worries they had about the negotiation process.

Sara Coughlin, a senior theater major, said her desired field has a lot of freelance work, so it’s difficult to know what a fair wage is, and this pushed her to attend.

“I want to work in Hollywood, and I feel like in that field, it’s very freelance and there aren’t exactly set salaries necessarily,” Coughlin said. “So I just wanted to learn more about how to negotiate my worth.”

The coordinators then presented information on the pay gap between men and women in America to further prove their point on the necessity of wage negotiation skills. Here, they showed that white women lose around $400,000 in their lifetime to the pay gap, African American women lose around $840,000 and Latinas lose over $1 million.

Coughlin said she noticed a difference between the way men and women felt about the seminar during the introductions at the beginning.

“The women felt like they’d be saying too much or being arrogant [while negotiating], whereas the men in the seminar didn’t feel the same,” Coughlin said.

Coordinators then spoke on the importance of “knowing your worth,” and properly presenting that to possible employers through a resume and cover letter. They also listed the six important steps in benchmarking your salary and benefits: research and identify comparable job titles, find the market rate for the position and establish your target salary, use your target salary to create your target salary range, determine your walk-away point, create a realistic budget and assess the value of the benefits.

They gave tips on how to begin and cited as one of the best websites to learn about what others are receiving in the field. Using this information along with your qualifications and experience is the best way to set a target salary, and it is recommended to go up from your target salary by 20 percent when giving a possible employer a salary range.

Determining a walk-away point, creating a realistic budget and assessing the value of the benefits are all tied together in determining whether or not accepting a given salary is worth it or feasible.

The coordinators recommended utilizing a six-month review, especially during the pandemic, as companies will likely continue to grow after their economic downfalls over the past year. This could allow you to achieve your target salary after six months of working for the company.

Coughlin feels she learned a lot from the workshop and is excited to put these new skills to use.

“I think it was a really great start,” she said. “It’s gonna make me think about the things I put on my resume and the way I advocate for myself.”

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