Recruiter gives women pointers on negotiating salaries, raises

March 2018

Jay Murdock

“Mind the gap” isn’t just a warning for British subway riders. It’s a mantra that Nichole Sims says women should keep in mind when taking a job or seeking a raise.

Sims, a talent acquisition manager for Enterprise, told students at a Tuesday night workshop put on by FSB, the Center for Career Exploration and Success, and The Women’s Center, that on average, women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes in a comparable role.

“You hear ’20 cents,’ 20 cents doesn’t sound so bad, but when you multiply that over time … there is a long-term impact,” she noted.

But Sims pointed out that there are other areas in which women may hurt their own chances of getting the job they want and the salary they want.

She said that if a job has 10 qualifications listed, women will often not apply if they don’t meet all the qualifications. But men will apply even if they only meet 7 of the 10, she said.

In addition, only about 32 percent of women negotiate their salary, Sims remarked. “Why do we do this?” she asked the students. “We walk into a position, we don’t negotiate salary, we think we need all 10 qualifications. What’s missing?”

“Confidence,” she answered. “We feel like kittens, but we should be feeling like lions.”

Sims asked the group if they kept thinking about past errors or mistakes long after they happened, and nearly every hand was raised.

“All that does is paralyze us, and puts us in a place of inaction. You’re not going to move forward, you’re not going to build your confidence, you’re not going to go for that promotion,” she said.

To build confidence, Sims explained, women should take certain actions to begin and continue the process.

The first? Celebrate your wins.

“For every one of those negative things that happens, have that list of wins literally listed out,” she said. “You need to be reminding yourself, encouraging yourself with the positive things going on in your life.”

Sims explained that it’s also important for women to do things that are out of their comfort zone, to go places and do things alone, and to feed their minds by staying current and learning new things.

“Set small goals, beat those small goals, and you’ll be able to overcome over time,” she said.

Sims said that when it comes to negotiating, you need to prepare ahead of time by researching the position and the company, looking up the salaries already being paid, determining your budget, and most importantly, assess your own worth.

“Think about what unique skill set you bring to the table,” she remarked. “They need to understand that you’re the one they want, even if there are six other people out there.”

Sims told a story about a time when she decided to seek a raise. She had listed her accomplishments, done her research, scheduled a meeting with her supervisor, and even had the meeting in her office for what she called the “home field advantage.”

But she noted that the structure of the conversation was important, because she asked questions and made statements that encouraged her supervisor to respond with “Yes.”

“You want to get the nod that you are both in agreement, so that by the end, there’s no reason for them (to say no,)” Sims said.

If the potential employer hasn’t brought up salary by the second interview, Sims remarked, that’s usually the time to ask. But when they respond, be ready to answer - it’s too late to start doing research at that point, she said.

Sims suggested that it’s a good idea to ask for 5 to 10 percent more than you actually want to receive because, “you want them to come back with where you actually want to land.”

Rebecca Vasko, a senior finance major, said she really enjoyed the workshop.

“I came to this to try to help me in the future. As a woman, I know that we don’t negotiate as much, and I really wanted to try to find a way to learn more,” she explained.

“(Negotiation) is something you always hear about, but then it’s like, ‘How do you do it?’ So it was good to get step-by-step (instructions) and ask questions of someone who knows how to do it,” junior finance major Morgan Compher said.

Ultimately, Sims said, confidence remains the key to success to interacting with potential and current employers.

“If you don’t think you’re the best, they won’t either. So you have to believe it first,” she said.

Nichole Sims speaking to group of women Nichole Sims raises her hand with student in audience Nicole Sims talks with students at table