Diversity Career Stories

Teacher Certification for Foreign-Educated Teachers

Navigating through the rules, regulations, and requirements for teacher certification can be a difficult and challenging process for teachers who received their training outside U.S. borders, but it could pay off because a shortage of educators in key subjects and geographic locations has increased demand for qualified teachers in the United States.
It is important to note that any non-U.S. citizen who wishes to teach in the United States must first obtain a visa from the U.S. embassy in their home country to be eligible to teach in the United States. In addition to visa requirements, foreign-educated teachers who would like to teach in U.S. public schools (Kindergarten through twelfth-grade levels) must also be certified by the state where they would like to work. While each state has its own individual certification requirements for foreign-educated teachers, most states have in common certain requirements:
In most U.S. states, foreign-educated teachers seeking certification must meet the following requirements:

  1. Completion of the foreign equivalent of a U.S. undergraduate degree
  2. Completion of a teacher preparation program that meets the requirements of the state where the individual would like to teach
  3. Completion of a certain number of university-level credit hours in education and in the subject area they wish to teach

Additional Requirements:

  • Most states will also require foreign-educated teachers to submit a credential evaluation report with their teaching application. This report explains an applicant’s foreign credentials to the state board of education and is usually only accepted if it has been prepared by credential evaluators designated by the state.
  • Prospective teachers who were educated outside the United States may be required to take an exam or a series of exams to demonstrate their reading, writing, and speaking proficiency in the English language (if it is not their native language).
  • Some states also require passing scores on state-specific certification tests (for more information on Teacher Licensure and Certification tests, visit the Educational Testing Service site).
  • Foreign-educated teachers who meet all of the state’s certification requirements will also need to complete an application for certification and submit a processing fee (normally around USD 100).

* If foreign-educated teachers fail to meet a state’s minimum certification requirements, they may be able to complete additional coursework to meet state standards.

Possible Options for Teachers without Certification

  • Emergency Certifications – In some states, foreign-educated teachers can get a teaching job without being certified under the state’s emergency certification provisions. Because of critical teacher shortages, some states extend temporary and emergency certifications that bypass state licensing requirements. These temporary certifications are usually given to prospective teachers in high-need subject areas like math, science, bilingual education, and special education. Opportunities to teach under these emergency provisions are fairly common in urban locations, but such emergency teaching certification is only temporary. The teacher still must work towards and eventually obtain official state certification.
  • Teaching in Private Schools – While teachers in U.S. public schools must meet teacher certification requirements for their particular state, private schools in any state are allowed to hire non-certified teachers. Although this practice may be a possible route for foreign-educated teachers to find employment, it is important to know that private school teachers are usually paid less than teachers in the public school system. Private school teachers, however, tend to have more control over their lesson plans and typically teach smaller classes.

Assistance for Foreign Teachers
The following organizations and Web sites may be able to help qualified foreign teachers with the process of coming to the United States and becoming certified as a teacher (these links are provided for information only and are not endorsed by LatPro):

Eligibility Requirements and Certification Procedures by State:
The resources below provide more information about the teacher certification process for each individual state. Be sure to review the specific requirements for the state where you wish to work.


  1. Fulbright Commission’s US Educational Advisory Service (EAS)
  3. U.S. Department of Education
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Hispanic Marketing Basics – Segmentation of the Hispanic Market

To succeed in Hispanic marketing, we must understand that all Hispanics are not the same. It is true that we all carry either Latin American or Spanish heritage in our blood, but this is the only variable that won’t change (some may say this is cutting us short but let’s use this definition for the purposes of this discussion). As discussed in previous articles, there are certain cultural characteristics that you need to be aware of to better understand the Latino frame of mind:

  • Degree of intimacy
  • Level of interaction
  • Social harmony
  • Personal contact
  • Respect for authority

These are extremely important and a great starting point for truly connecting with Hispanics. Then again, the Latino community is so diverse that if you limit yourself to only these general characteristics, it will still be quite challenging to effectively and efficiently reach out to the market you specifically are trying to attract.
You also need to be aware of additional variables that influence Latinos, both as distinct groups and as individuals. Here, in no particular order, are some of the traits to consider when identifying the group (or groups) of Latinos on whom you will focus your marketing efforts in order to tailor a message that resonates with them:

  1. Country of Origin or Heritage: There are many differences between Hispanics, depending upon the person’s country of origin or heritage: Food and music preferences as well as the Holidays they celebrate are some of the most obvious. The actual words they use to describe persons, places, actions and things can vary immensely as well.
  2. Language Preference: What is the actual language that your target group prefers? Do they usually speak and read in English or Spanish? Are they fully bilingual or closer to either end of the English-Spanish language spectrum? This is of utmost importance when developing your message. Will you talk to them exclusively in English or Spanish? Will you talk to them in both languages? Will you utilize Spanglish (code-switching)?
  3. Generation:  A completely different worldview depends on how many generations away Hispanics are from their country of origin or heritage. First generation (foreign-born) Latinos have experienced life outside the U.S., have gone through the immigration experience, and to different degrees, have embraced or become acquainted with living in America. Second generation Latinos encounter the mixed experience of being born and growing up in the United States as well as being brought up by immigrants; thus they are heavily exposed and influenced by their parents’ culture. Finally, Latinos who are third generation and beyond are the sons and daughters of U.S.-born parents. Although they are very much influenced by the general market, they still connect to their roots through the values, traditions, and culture passed on by their parents and grandparents.
  4. Place of Residence: Latinos living in different parts of the country have completely different life experiences. It depends on the size of their city or town, its demographic composition, and how much or little interaction they have with fellow Latinos. Hispanics living in Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, or New York have a vastly different experience and easier access to all things Hispanic than if they reside in Boise or Billings.
  5. Sociocultural Level: In most cases, foreign-born Latinos obtain a higher income level and greater buying power than they experienced in their home countries. Still, even while their wallets or bank accounts tell one story, their buying habits and overall lifestyles could tell a different story. Their mindset may cause them to retain financial habits learned in the past, meaning they may be spending less than their buying power would indicate. In other cases, immigrants may arrive in the U.S. with a high sociocultural and economic level and broader world-view, which creates a completely different set of needs.
  6. Acculturation: How much have Hispanics modified or adapted their attitudes and behaviors as a result of contact with mainstream America? What new systems of thought, beliefs, emotions, and communication systems have they embraced to exist in a new cultural environment without abandoning their heritage?
  7. Assimilation: While often used interchangeably with acculturation, this is actually the process of giving up a cultural heritage and becoming absorbed into the mainstream culture. How much have Latinos “forgotten” about their heritage in order to see themselves as part of a larger national family?
  8. Income Level: In general terms, the higher a person’s income level (this applies to all people, not only Latinos), the likelier they will have their basic needs fulfilled. The wants or needs addressed in your targeted marketing message will need to take this into consideration.

As you can see, a combination of all these distinct variables defines the Hispanic group (or groups) that you will focus on. A good way to understand the interaction between these variables is considering each as an element of a matrix, and the point of intersection of all these variables defines the part of the market you are trying to reach.
As mentioned before, this analysis could be executed down to an individual level, but for marketing purposes, it is completely cost prohibitive and would deliver a dreadful ROI. The idea behind this explanation is that you need to perform your due diligence and understand where the majority of the people you are trying to reach land on this matrix, modifying your message according to this insight.

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When Bad Hispanic Advertising Happens to Good Companies

Unfortunately, many companies miss the mark when advertising to Latinos. Usually, it’s because corporate decision makers are not paying close enough attention to their Hispanic marketing efforts. They simply don’t understand or carefully consider Hispanic cultural nuances when planning their outreach efforts.
Whether they are Spanish translation errors or subtle (sometimes not-so-subtle) cultural misinterpretations, these marketing mishaps are a waste of advertising dollars, often requiring additional investment to “clean up the mess” and start fresh with a whole new campaign to reach this market segment.
Some classic gaffes from the past:
When translated into Spanish, the Dairy Association’s astoundingly successful “Got Milk?” advertising campaign asked Latino consumers “Are you Lactating?”
During the Pope’s visit to Miami, a local T-shirt company printed shirts that read, “I saw the Potato” because in Spanish the article “the” can be either masculine (el papa) or feminine (la papa); on the T-shirt they used the feminine, which describes the tuber rather than the head of the Catholic Church!
In the late 1970’s, Braniff Airlines tried to promote their all-leather interiors by translating the English slogan “Fly in leather.” Unfortunately, the literal translation invited Spanish-speaking passengers to “Fly Naked.”
Blunders from more recent years:
    1. Cincinnati Radio Station WLW – “The Big Juan” Billboard
In early May 2007, Cincinnati’s WLW-AM launched a billboard campaign throughout the city featuring a man with a dark mustache dressed in a traditional Mexican outfit, complete with a Mexican flag and a donkey. The headline read “The Big Juan,” which was intended as a humorous play on the station’s branding as “The Big One.” Someone inside Clear Channel Communications (WLW’s owner) should have been sensitive to the fact that this campaign could offend the growing Hispanic population in town (which it did).
    2. Tecate’s “Cold Latina” Billboard
Back in 2004, Labbat USA, the U.S. Distributor or Tecate Beer, came up with what they called a tongue-in-cheek billboard for Tecate, meant to publicize the fact that the beer was now sold in bottles, rather than only in cans. It showed a chilled, ready-to-drink Tecate bottle along with the phrase, “Finally, a Cold Latina.”
This example illustrates the importance of truly understanding the Hispanic culture before advertising to reach this demographic. Critics felt “the ad propagates negative stereotypes of Hispanic women as being loose and overly sexual,” but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The family is extremely important to Latinos and any offense to a family member is certainly not appreciated. As a son, husband, brother, and father of Latino women, I found it offensive that a company would imply that all Hispanic women are “hot.”
Most Latinos understand that situations like this usually arise from a lack of knowledge, understanding, and sensitivity, rather than an attempt to offend. Therefore, in general, we tend to cut these companies some slack. No, I won’t stop drinking Tecate beer because of this particular advertisement (I actually love a cold Tecate with salt and lime!), but I would not hesitate to try another brand if their advertising utilized sound research and insight in the development of their message… Hey, I could like it better than Tecate!
    3. Hershey’s “Hispanic Milk Candy”
In 2004, Hispanic pop star Thalia Sodi (Mrs. Tommy Mottola for those of you who have no idea who she is) proudly branded a new Hershey’s line of “Hispanic Inspired” candy with her name. The new line included a candy bar naively called “Cajeta Elegancita.”
There wouldn’t be an issue if the product was being marketed in Thalia’s native Mexico, where the word cajeta has the G-rated meaning of milk candy (loosely translated). Unfortunately for Hershey’s, in parts of Latin America cajeta is also a derogatory slang term for a part of the female anatomy. So if an Argentinean residing in the United States ran into this product at the grocery store, best case scenario he would have a good laugh. Even if cajeta is the real and true name for the Mexican confection, it would have made better business sense to go with the still-in-the-ballpark name of “Dulce de Leche” milk candy, as other companies have opted when marketing this product in the United States.
The lesson businesses should take away from all these examples is clear – when looking for employees whose job responsibilities include serving the Hispanic community, make sure you find individuals who are truly bilingual and bi-cultural. The same goes for outsourcing your marketing and advertising efforts. It is not only knowledge of the language, it’s understanding the differences in meaning that are specific to a particular country or region.
Even more critical is a deep understanding of the culture: knowing what to take into consideration prior to developing a piece of communication, being aware of what could be offensive or otherwise misinterpreted, and having the cultural awareness to find alternative solutions.
Even if this represents a higher investment in personnel for your company, believe me, it will be more than worth it.

Diversity Career Stories

Hispanic mentoring: what Hispanic professionals need to know

Get a mentor. You’ve probably heard this career advice more than once. Unfortunately, many professionals know they should get a mentor but few know how to go about finding one or what to expect out of the mentoring process.
First Things First: What is a Mentor?
A mentoring relationship is much more than just networking. A mentor is a role model who guides you through different phases of your career, helping you to set goals and expecting you to meet those goals.
A good mentor will share information gained from their experience, offering insight into your own career future while helping you avoid the same detours and pitfalls they encountered along the way.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about mentoring is that you will have a single mentor. Jerry Haar, Ph.D. and professor of management and business at Florida International University, recommends cultivating a network of advisors — individuals with diverse skills who can counsel you in different areas of your life and career.
What Makes a Good Mentor?
When seeking out a mentor, you should look for someone whose work ethic, management style and professional accomplishments you admire. Often this will be someone who is further along a similar career path to your own. However, you don’t have to choose a mentor from the same field or the same industry.
Successful executives, regardless of their field, can share important insights about climbing the corporate ladder, developing leadership potential, and achieving professional goals. If you pass on potential mentors just because their profession doesn’t mirror your own, you could be missing out.
Similarly, as a Hispanic professional, you may think it is absolutely necessary to find a Hispanic mentor. While a shared cultural heritage can be a great benefit, you shouldn’t select a mentor simply because they are Hispanic. A mentor should be someone whose success you admire, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
“The precise wrong way to go about it is to find a mentor who is of your culture,” warns Dr. Haar. “It sounds counterintuitive, but the main priority is to find the right mentor with the breadth and depth of experience so they can guide you. The right mentor [in a business relationship] has three qualities: experience in the world of business, the passion to be a mentor and someone who can understand and connect with the mentee. If they happen to be from the same ethnic or religious group, that is frosting on the cake, but it’s not the cake.”
Where do I find a Mentor?
Before seeking out a mentor, make sure you have identified your professional goals, both short-term and long-term. Where do you want to be in a year? Five years? Ten?
Dr. Haar suggests you research which social and business organizations best fit into your plan. Join those organizations, meet people, get involved and find individuals you admire personally and professionally. Volunteer to help with projects that potential mentors are leading.
Your company or professional association may also offer a formal mentoring program or mentor matching service. Now is the time to express interest or submit your formal application for these programs.
Most importantly, be persistent and don’t give up. There is a good mentor out there for everyone willing to take the time to find one.
How do I approach a Potential Mentor?
Once you have discovered someone you believe would make a good mentor, then what?
Terri Scandura, Ph.D., professor of management at the University of Miami, suggests arranging a meeting with potential mentors. Let those person know how much you admire their skills and what they are doing. In the course of a conversation, ask to be involved with one of their ongoing projects. Be ready to present ideas on how you can help move the project forward, and what the mentor will gain from taking you under his or her wing.
“At worst, they will say no, but be flattered you recognized their skills. At best, they ask you to join them,” says Scandura, adding that a project offers a timeframe; if something doesn’t work out, the end of the project is an easy time to move on. If a good working relationship is established, you can sign on for the next project. You’ve found your mentor!
What should I expect out of the relationship?
The most important thing to remember is that this is a professional relationship. A mentor is not your best friend, your therapist, or a shoulder to cry on.
You will hear straight talk and frank observations from your mentor, and you need to be able to handle this constructive criticism. “You want someone who is compassionate,” says Haar, but also someone who is also going to hold you to high standards. A mentor will be emotionally involved on some level, but they should also feel comfortable pointing out when you messed up and how. You need to be able to hear and act on these observations so you can gain everything possible from the experience.
Another important aspect of the mentor-protégé relationship is goal setting. Your mentor will help you choose appropriate goals and hold you accountable for meeting them. One of the best ways you can let your mentor know you appreciate his or her guidance is to be focused and meet the goals you’ve set.
What does the Mentor gain?
Mentoring is a two-way street, says Scandura. One of the benefits of having a younger protégé is having a connection to the junior ranks within a company. By cultivating relationships with junior staffers, the mentor gains support for ideas and projects, says Scandura, and the mentor builds a loyalty base at the same time.
The mentee may also bring new ideas and current technical skills to the mentor. While the mentor is fully capable of learning new skills, “the mentor may not be up with the most current trends, so it becomes an exchange,” notes Scandura. Be proactive in the relationship so the mentor sees the value in continuing to nurture your skills, says Scandura, making it a win/win situation for both sides.
The reasons for becoming a mentor may also be personal. Perhaps no one was there to support the mentor on their way up and they want to make sure things are different for young professionals today. Or maybe a mentor made a significant impact in their career, and they want to do the same for junior colleagues.
When does a Mentoring relationship end?
Of course, all good things come to an end. “You need to be aware when a mentoring relationship has run its course,” says Haar. You will come to a point where you have accomplished the goals you set out to accomplish with that mentor. You both need to take stock of your mentoring relationship and understand that it may be time for you to move on, seeking out a new mentor to help you develop new skills and achieve different goals.
If you are lucky enough to find a good mentor, show your appreciation along the way. They will be putting in a lot of time to help you obtain your goals. Thank your mentor often, and then, when you can, pass it on. That may be the biggest thanks of all.

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Should Employers Give Hiring Preference to Hispanic Job Candidates?

One very important requirement in today’s business world is being able to interact with an increasingly diverse group of consumers, both culturally and linguistically. In the United States, the largest minority group is of Latino heritage.
As an employer, you may be looking for Hispanic employees for a variety of reasons. You might want to hire staff members who can better connect culturally with Latino clients. You may want employees who can converse with Spanish-speaking vendors, associates, or clients within the United States or abroad. You might be trying to diversify your workforce to better reflect the overall population. Or perhaps you’re trying to fill a specific position and some of the job applicants just happen to be Hispanic. Any of these ring a bell? They should if you are making hiring decisions in the United States today.
A word of advice: please, please, don’t hire someone only because they are Hispanic. You should not be looking for Latino employees solely for appearances or to comply with a strict (and outdated) corporate diversity requirement. Invite them to be part of your organization because they have the attitude and aptitude to get the job done
The one thing that makes me walk with my head held up high is the strong work ethic of Hispanics in general. From the recent immigrant that just joined a lawn maintenance crew to the newly appointed CEO of a major corporation, Latinos are hard workers. They or their ancestors came to this country fully committed to moving upward on the economic ladder and are willing to do what it takes to make it happen.
Assuming that the person is qualified for the position you are looking to fill, when you are considering hiring a Latino candidate, look for that fire in their belly, that determination in their expression, that obvious desire for more. If for some reason these aren’t obvious I’d look at other applicants, Hispanic or not.
Yes, this puts a lot of weight on every Latino’s shoulders, but hey, we came to (or were born in) this country to succeed for our loved ones and ourselves, and to be a role model for generations to come. We have to make a point that we are as good, if not better, than anyone competing against us. If we are not, we don’t deserve to get a job just because we are a minority and a given company needs to fill a certain diversity quota.
After sharing all this with you, I guess the answer to the original issue is quite simple: When a Hispanic is being considered for a position within your company, hire them only if they are the best candidate for the job.

Diversity Career Stories

Job interview questions for Hispanic job seekers – what to ask employers about Diversity

Most job candidates agonize over how they will respond to questions they’ll be asked in a job interview. They anticipate, prepare and practice their answers. But a good interview is a two-way conversation. While the interviewer will obviously be taking the lead and asking the majority of the questions, job seekers should also take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about a company (instead of making a leap of faith that could lead to disappointment down the road).
The successful job interview allows both sides to learn more about each other, so the employer can determine if you are right for the job, but also so you can decide if the company is one you want to join. As a Hispanic professional, it’s a good idea to inquire about a company’s diversity programs, community outreach initiatives, and other opportunities that are available for Latinos.
Ask when and how you could become involved with these programs and if you can speak with one of the organizers. Just as the interviewer asked for examples about your experience, you can tactfully probe for more details about a company’s diversity initiatives, including:
  • How active are these groups?
  • Does the company sponsor these groups?
  • Do they meet on company time?

Ask for information and examples that show how company decision-makers value diversity, such as:

  • Does the diversity department influence decisions made by the company?
  • How has diversity been promoted within the company?
  • How has the CEO made diversity a top priority on the agenda?

Find out about the demographic make-up of the company to see how well your ethnicity is represented, given responsibility, and promoted. For example, you may want to ask:

  • How many Hispanics are on the board of directors?
  • How many Hispanics are in management or executive roles?
  • Of those Hispanics in managerial roles, can you give me some examples of their career paths through the company?

Ask how your cultural knowledge and language abilities would be used in your new position. This not only provides useful information for you but also reinforces your specialized skills in the mind of the interviewer. You can ask questions like:

  • Will I be dealing directly with clients who prefer to converse in Spanish?
  • Will I be working on strategies to build a new client base in the Hispanic community?
  • Will I be leading a group of workers whose primary language is Spanish?
  • Will I be using my multicultural experience to expand company operations in Latin America?
Remember, as a Latino candidate, you are in demand both for your language skills and multicultural knowledge. While you certainly must impress potential employers during a job interview, they must impress you too! By taking the opportunity to discuss diversity, you will get a feel for a company’s commitment to mentoring its minority employees. The answers to these questions can help you find organizations where your career will be actively supported and nurtured.
Workplace Diversity

Hispanic Culture at Work – Understanding and Managing Hispanic Employees

As a non-Hispanic employer or manager, you may be wondering how cultural differences might affect your work environment when you bring Latino employees into your organization. By taking the time to familiarize yourself with the Hispanic culture, you will be able to better understand and interact with Hispanic staff members, creating a more inclusive and comfortable atmosphere for everyone.
Indulge me for a moment and let me share my first-hand experience as a bilingual Latino professional. In Guatemala, every workday would begin by doing the rounds at the office: saying hi to everyone, asking about their lives, shaking hands with the guys, and giving a small peck on the cheek to the ladies. If you met someone for the first time, you’d be quite formal, but after this, it was a given that you’d act as I just described.
When I came to the U.S., I had a bad case of “don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.”
On my first day at work, introductions were pretty normal… lots of handshakes and smiles. The following day was when the culture shock began. I walked in and, as I was used to doing, attempted to greet the office receptionist with a peck on the cheek. She swiftly evaded me with a move worthy of Emmett Smith on roller blades. Quite impressive.
I walked further down the hall and greeted my fellow staff members individually. Passing by their offices, I couldn’t help but notice their puzzled expressions. As I was getting settled at my desk, my new boss came into my office. I immediately stood up, walked towards him, and gave him a firm and effusive handshake. My jaw dropped two feet after hearing what came out of his mouth at that moment: “Why are you standing up and shaking my hand? Didn’t we just see each other yesterday?”
I have to confess at first it was somewhat liberating not having to interact with people the way I did back home. But the feeling quickly faded, and I found that I missed that type of connection. I wanted to be more than a co-worker; I wanted to be seen as a real person with a life outside the office, not someone who vanished after 5 p.m. and magically reappeared at 9 a.m. the next day.
While I am aware that this is not the reality in every U.S. workplace, my story serves to highlight some issues your Hispanic staff members may also be facing.

Hispanic Culture at Work: What You Need to Know

  1. Degree of Intimacy – Hispanics innately want to establish a personal connection, including a close relationship with co-workers. It may take some time in a new work environment to learn what is expected, but Hispanic staff members will adapt to a different level of intimacy. Or you may even find your office becoming a closer-knit “family” as you are exposed to a new way of working.
  2. Level of Interaction – Latinos want to get to know others as complete human beings. They are aware that their co-workers have a life after work and are interested in knowing more about it. Small talk is our way of learning about the wants, needs, and feelings of others.
  3. Social Harmony – Hispanic employees don’t like to rock the boat; we have a need to maintain smooth and pleasant relationships. Blatant confrontation does not come naturally to us. I have to admit that I still feel uncomfortable when my fellow non-Hispanic staff members clearly and openly express their disagreement on a given issue. For them, there is no emotion involved in the interaction; it is just a difference in opinion. As a Latino, I prefer to use a more indirect approach.
  4. Personal Contact – In social situations, Hispanics find physical contact with others quite normal. Handshakes, hugs, kisses on the cheek, pats on the back are all part of daily interaction.
  5. Respect for Authority – Hispanic employees tend to treat those in positions of authority with a great deal of respect. Don’t expect us to blurt out our disagreement in front of everyone. If you really want to know what we think on a given issue, get some one-on-one time with us and reassure us that you really need our feedback and are ready to hear it. That’s when you’ll get some frank and useful feedback from us.

Now that you are more familiar with the Hispanic culture, what can you do to relate to your Latino staff and promote an inclusive workplace?

  • Make a conscious effort to recognize your Hispanic employees on a personal level. We will appreciate your effort to make small talk, show us your “unguarded” side, and be down to earth, even if it is only for a short while. If you just can’t do it, acknowledge it. It is much better to admit your discomfort than to create unnecessary friction or misunderstandings.
  • Be ready and willing to shake some hands. Think of yourself as a politician running for office. You’ll get the hang of it and start to enjoy it.
  • Be a leader, not a “boss.” Hispanic employees respond to managers who lead through vision and inspiration, not fear and intimidation. Rather than remain in a negative environment, Latino workers will search for a respectful, collaborative workplace.

I hope that these insights I have shared will help you better relate to your Hispanic employees. Just remember that these are generalizations; the term Latino or Hispanic refers to a very diverse group of individuals. Each person will be influenced by their country of ancestry, country of birth, language of preference, region where they live, years in the U.S., level of acculturation, level of assimilation, income level, and education. As a rule of thumb, the further away your Hispanic employees are from their ancestors that migrated to the United States, the less noticeable these characteristics will be.
It may sound complex, but it really isn’t: there are just as many things that make us similar as there are things that set us apart.

Diversity Career Stories

Smart Salary Negotiation Techniques for Bilingual Professionals

For many bilingual professionals, salary negotiation can be the most intimidating part of the employment search process. It can be even more nerve-wracking if you happen to be a foreign professional who is unsure about the “rules” of salary negotiation in the United States.
While it may feel like an uncomfortable situation, U.S. employers are prepared for potential hires to negotiate compensation. However, says Melanie Domenech-Rodriguez, associate professor of psychology at Utah State University, people often have the tendency to be grateful for that first offer and fail to negotiate. But giving in to that impulse could be costly.
Just ask Marta, a Latina professional working in the insurance industry. She never negotiated her salary in her previous position.

“I didn’t want anything to ruin my chances of getting hired. Later I found out that I was making less than [my coworkers].” When it came time to interview for her latest job, Marta came prepared to negotiate. “I realized it wasn’t about being greedy, but about earning what I knew I was worth.”

By using some simple negotiating techniques, you too can increase your annual salary.
1. Research your Market Value
Before your interview, gather information about the current market value for similar positions:

  • Do you know someone who works at the company? Current employees can give you insight about salary.
  • Reach out to colleagues in the same field for information on pay ranges.
  • Check comparison websites like that allow you to search salary ranges by profession and location.
  • Review salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Remember, many companies pay a premium for bilingual employees. Depending on the industry, you could earn as much as 20 percent more than colleagues who don’t speak Spanish or other in-demand languages.
2. Never Be the First One to Discuss Salary
During the interview process, always let the employer be the one to bring up compensation. If you broach the subject first, you risk looking as though you’re more interested in your paycheck than the job itself. And once the salary discussion is on the table, always let the employer name a figure first.
If you propose an amount before hearing the employer’s offer, you could price yourself well below what they were willing to pay. As Ann Marie Sabath, author of One MinuteManners: Quick Answers to the Most Awkward Situations You’ll Ever Face at Work, puts it, “He who speaks first loses”.
3. Once you hear their initial offer, stay silent
When the employer does propose a salary amount, you shouldn’t rush to respond. Stay silent for a little while, with a thoughtful look on your face. This simple tactic lets the employer know you’re not overly enthusiastic about the offer. Don’t say yes or no at this point, but move on to Step four.
4. Consider (and Negotiate!) Other Types of Compensation
Ask about other aspects of the offer such as medical and life insurance, 401K plans, vacation time, moving expenses, flex time, and other benefits. These extras may effectively increase your compensation, or they can be used as additional points of negotiation later.
5. Take Time to Think
You shouldn’t feel pressured to accept or decline an offer on the spot. Thank the recruiter for the offer and request a day or two to consider it. As Domenech-Rodriguez points out, “it’s important to disengage from the moment” and remove yourself from the emotion of the interview process.
6. Ask for More than You Expect to Get
Negotiators around the world know the concept of meeting in the middle. By asking for a higher salary initially, you are creating a situation where both parties are able to give up something and still win.
It’s always best to negotiate in person, so make an appointment to meet with the company representative. Briefly, remind them:

  • That you are excited about the opportunity
  • How you plan on contributing to their success
  • The special skills you will bring, including bilingualism or biculturalism

You are then ready to make your counter-offer. Although you will be asking for more than you actually expect, make sure that the amount is within the realm of possibility based on your market research.
You might say: “Based on my research and my understanding of the position’s requirements, I think an appropriate salary would be somewhere in the range of ‘$X to $Y’.”
If you have another offer on the table, it’s okay to mention it, as long as you are tactful (never pretend that you have other offers if you don’t).
You might say: “I currently have another offer for $X, but I am very excited about the professional opportunities that your company has to offer. I would love to join your team if we can get closer to that compensation.”
If you’ve gauged the market accurately, the employer should suggest a “meet in the middle” figure or at least improve their initial offer. In cases where the salary figure is firm, suggest additional perks or benefits that would make the offer more appealing to you.
7. Get it in Writing
Once you’ve come to an understanding, your last step is to make sure the company provides a written employment agreement covering not just salary but all the points you negotiated. If you agreed to revisit salary after a probationary period, get that in writing as well. Don’t skip this step: the person you negotiated with could leave the company or later forget exactly what they verbally agreed to.
Congratulations — you just negotiated your way to a higher salary!

Diversity Career Stories

Ten Tips for Hispanic Professionals to Master the U.S. Job Interview

We may be living in a global economy, but the fact remains: There are some subtle—and some not-so-subtle—differences between the way a job interview is conducted in the United States and in Latin America.
To help you better prepare for U.S. job interviews, LatPro recently took time to speak with two experts in the field of employment training—experts who have made it their business to coach Hispanic job candidates and employers in cross-cultural interviewing techniques.
A career strategist and communications professional, Graciela Kenig is the author of Best Careers for Bilingual Latinos. Nelson A. De Leon is a bilingual recruiting consultant and the owner and founder of America At Work.
We asked our experts: What makes an employment interview in the United States different from one that might be conducted in Latin America? What expectations do U.S. interviewers have, and what does a Latino candidate need to know to succeed in this new environment?
Here are their top tips to help you avoid possible misconceptions and cultural pitfalls so you can get the job you want!
Top Ten Tips for Acing your U.S. Job Interview
1. Take credit for your professional accomplishments
An employer expects you to “toot your own horn,” says Graciela Kenig. This can be awkward for Latinos who are more community and group-oriented, but it’s a crucial part of the U.S. interview.
Employers want to hear not only how you worked as a part of a team but also and very specifically what you did on that team and what your contributions were, notes Kenig. Discussing your individual accomplishments won’t be viewed as arrogant or egotistical. In fact, if you don’t point out your solo successes, employers will assume you don’t have significant contributions to talk about.
2. Make eye contact
Interviewers will be picturing you as a potential coworker during the job interview. They expect you to look them in the eye and act like a colleague. For some Hispanics, such direct eye contact may feel uncomfortable because it can have different connotations in Latin America, including attraction between a man and woman, a lack of respect, or a challenge to authority. All of these potential cultural implications must be set aside for the job interview. In the U.S., making good eye contact shows confidence; failing to look your interviewer in the eye will not only make them uncomfortable but also could be interpreted as a sign that you are being evasive or untruthful.
3. Be direct
“We Latinos tend to communicate indirectly,” says Kenig, “We need to give context to stories, and the story gets really long.” In the U.S. interview, however, you should get to the point quickly and focus only on the relevant facts. Kenig’s story strategy is SAR: Pick the Situation; relate the Action; highlight the Results.
Plunging right in and talking about the matter at hand may seem rude or abrupt to a Latino, but it won’t to the person doing the interview. They are busy, time is short, and you need to shine during the brief time you have in front of them.
4. Focus on professional and not personal issues
Just to break the ice, says De Leon, interviewers may ask a question, like “tell me something about yourself.” They are not asking about your childhood, your dogs, or your family.
The interviewer really wants to hear about you in relation to the jobs you’ve had in the past and the job you want. “That can be tough for Hispanics who want to ease into conversations about themselves,” adds De Leon. Practice answering these types of questions without including your entire life’s story.
5. Get rid of the “Yes Syndrome”
The Yes Syndrome is something De Leon identifies as an idiosyncrasy of Hispanic culture. As an interviewer is talking, the recruit may be nodding his head, saying yes over and over. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve understood everything. It does mean they’ve heard; they are listening, and they won’t interrupt for fear of seeming rude.
“It’s okay to ask questions,” says De Leon. “Ask, ‘Can you explain that?’ or just repeat back to the interviewer what you’ve heard: ‘You need A, B, C and D for this job.’” It doesn’t make you look stupid, as some fear. It makes you look and sound engaged in the interview.
6. Don’t be passive
This goes hand in hand with getting rid of the Yes Syndrome. If you are too humble or too reserved, says De Leon, you may appear uninterested in the job. Once you start asking questions, you show a good grasp of the job at hand. The smartest people don’t give the best answers, they ask the best questions, showing potential employers they can identify problems.
7. Beware tú vs. usted
Latinos are aware of the formality of the “usted.” But because English only uses “you,” be conscious that you don’t get too familiar with your interviewer. De Leon sees this especially with people who have grown up in the Latino culture within the United States. While a recruit should not be subservient, there should still be respect. And if you happen to be interviewing in a situation where you will use Spanish, stick with “usted” during the interview. Don’t lapse into using “tú” for the entire corporate culture.
8. Dress conservatively
“It’s always better to be overdressed rather than underdressed,” says De Leon, but what is dressy for going out on the town is not appropriate attire for the interview. Kenig reminds recruits, “Whatever you wear makes an impression and says something about who you are.”
Even if the day-to-day dress of regular employees is casual, you should choose conservative business attire for your job interview. A professional appearance shows that you respect the interviewer and are serious about the available position. Avoid anything that will detract from the interview, including too much jewelry, perfume, or aftershave. You want the focus to be on your abilities, not on an overpowering fragrance or distracting accessories.
9. Don’t be discouraged if the interviewer seems impersonal
Employers who don’t ask about your background, your family, your kids, and your church aren’t being rude, and it doesn’t mean they don’t like you as a potential employee. In the U.S., these types of personal interview questions are prohibited. “There are a lot of legal issues they cannot discuss or bring up first in an interview,” says Kenig. If the recruit mentions a spouse or children, the interviewer can follow up on it, but they are bound by law not to ask first.
10. Research the company before your job interview – and don’t forget your Hispanic connections!
It’s a big world, but our cultural connections can make the world seem smaller. In addition to more traditional research methods, use your cultural connections to gain valuable insights into a company. Within the close-knit Hispanic community, chances are good that you can find someone who has already interviewed with or worked for a particular company. Professional Hispanic organizations and their members can also be a wealth of information. All you have to do is ask!

Para Empleadores

Time Management in Other Cultures

Managers and supervisors who work with multicultural employees often express frustration with the way some of these associates manage their time at work. Complaints often include an inability to meet deadlines (even when employees said they could), the recurrence of being late for meetings, or the apparent lack of focus on a priority task.
No doubt, such behaviors can have serious consequences on productivity and team morale. But when they take place—not all multicultural employees engage in these practices—cultural differences usually are at play.
Please keep in mind that the following statements are generalizations, which should be used as filters, not as a way to foster further damaging stereotypes. In other words, when confronted with these behaviors and concepts, you should think of them as a signal that you must modify your management style to get the results you need.
Time in Different Cultures
While in mainstream American society we tend to think of time in separate and manageable segments, other cultures perceive time as a flowing commodity that can’t be controlled. People whose roots are in southern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia as well as Native- and African-Americans are in the second category. Typically, they are raised to think of schedules, agendas, and appointments as flexible because involvement and interaction with people are considered more important. That is why they may not exhibit a “sense of urgency” or a “make it happen” philosophy but may use other ways to achieve results.
Thus, it is entirely possible that an employee from any of these cultures, even if born in the United States, may do the following:

  • Miss a deadline because somewhere in the process, a human concern took precedence over the task. This could have been resolving a conflict with a coworker, tending to a family need, or feeling that it was inappropriate to ask for an extension (as this may be viewed negatively) even though all signs pointed to the deadline being unrealistic in the first place.
  • Be late to a meeting because bringing to an end another meeting or activity just because the clock said so would have been rude.
  • Appear to be involved in too many things instead of the task with the highest priority. In other cultures, dubbed by cultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall as “High Context” cultures, people may not concentrate or act on one thing at a time in a linear fashion (e.g., waiting on several customers at the same time as opposed to one customer at a time, as is customary in mainstream U.S. society). Interruptions for them are acceptable so they may take a call just because someone is at the other end of the line even though a deadline must be met. They also may try to solve several problems at the same time. In short, they are the ultimate multi-taskers.
  • View goals as ideals since many other human concerns, along with the elusive time factor, may interfere with their achievement.
  • Seem to agree to do something but don’t. People in High Context cultures are very reluctant to say no, so they communicate indirectly (some describe this as not getting to the point very quickly or beating around the bush) to avoid offending someone or hurting their feelings—or simply to save face. If, for example, the boss asks: “Can we meet this deadline?” the answer could be “maybe” or a qualified “yes,” as in “yes, if two previous projects are completed on time.” The employee may think: If the boss asks this question thinking that we can meet the deadline, I shouldn’t say otherwise in front of others or admit that the deadline is unrealistic given the circumstances.

Adapting Your Management Style
If these issues become apparent, try one or more of the following ideas. Please don’t insult multicultural employees who can manage your expectations by indiscriminately applying these solutions to them.

  • Deal with time-sensitive issues upfront and as a group. If you take multicultural individuals aside, more often than not they will take your suggestions as criticism of their past or current performance.
  • When assigning a task to your team, ask them to come up with a detailed work plan before agreeing to any deadline. This will let them be more realistic in their plans and will allow them to work out differences among themselves. Asians and Latinos, for example, tend to be reluctant to disagree with the boss in front of others.
  • Once a deadline is agreed upon, tell the team that you expect them to come to you if, for any reason, meeting it becomes doubtful. Make it clear that you prefer to discuss these concerns when they surface, not after the deadline is missed. Some multicultural employees may prefer to talk to you in private about their apprehensions.
  • Coach employees who come to talk to you privately about ways to sell their ideas to the rest of the team, or provide a coach or mentor within the team who can perform that function.
  • When an employee seems to agree to do something, especially in a non-committal way, paraphrase until you understand the concerns. In the above example, where someone says yes and adds that two other projects are due prior to this one, you should ask “how will that affect your ability to meet this new deadline?” Remember that questions that require yes or no answers may only get you to a qualified “yes,” which, in essence, means “no.”
  • Provide time-management training but understand that such training is only part of the solution. Personality and culture are tied together and will not change easily because of some tactical help.
  • Pair employees with mentors or coaches so they can become aware of the way things are accomplished (and rewarded) within your organization.
  • Make sure everyone—not just your multicultural employees—knows that performance evaluations will take into consideration how well people meet deadlines to achieve desired results.