Diversity Career Stories Teacher

Passionate high school English and History teacher inspires young minds

This high school teacher with eight years of teaching experience explains the temptation to quit her difficult job dealing with teenagers, and what keeps her from pulling the plug on this challenging but rewarding career.

What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
My job title is English/History teacher at a public high school and I have eight years of teaching experience.

Would you describe what you do on a typical day?
On a typical teaching day, I arrive at the school approximately one hour prior to the first bell – at 7:30 in the morning. I prepare the white board, organize my lessons for the day, do some copying if necessary, and open the doors in case a student needs to make-up tests or other work. I interact with my colleagues and answer any emails I may have.

If you’ve experienced discrimination, in what ways have you responded and what response worked best?
At first, the lack of English language skills was a little problem for me, but it was overcome quickly. I never let these shortcomings get in the way of learning to speak a new language and I used a sense of humor, kindness, and asking for help in my daily life.

Because I am a more mature individual, that is, I am middle-aged female – some of the young teachers have often called me “Mom” affectionately. I look at it as being a compliment rather than being slighted by it. I believe two things: that everyone can learn, and that a person is never too old to learn. I know that my job actually is a benefit to those younger teachers who may not have the life experiences, or the initial maturity to deal with teenagers in a public school. I am of European birth, having immigrated with my family to the U.S.

Where you work, how well does your company do ‘equal opportunity’? Is management white and male? How are minorities perceived and treated?
The school where I work at the present time is located in an area of Arizona where there are many Hispanic students. That being the case, the administration is fairly aware of the need for diversity. The hiring that is done is equitable as far as opportunity for anyone who has the qualifications necessary to be able to teach at a specific grade level. The administration itself is diversified with one Hispanic female and two white males. While there are more white middle-aged teachers both male and female, there are Hispanic and Black teachers to round out the teacher population. The instructors are able to treat each other with respect and work well together.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
One of the things that I did not learn in college that would have been really helpful when I began teaching is planning ahead at least a couple of weeks. Seeing the big picture makes it a lot easier to plan the daily work. Most colleges and universities are so focused on the single lesson plan that they forget to tell you that more than one lesson must fit into a unit of learning. I have since learned to adjust and plan a month ahead. A second thing I have learned is that teenagers in particular, respond to kindness and emotion much more than teens used to. As the old saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Even male students are more emotional and wear their feelings on their sleeves more often than not.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I began in the business of education when I was faced with having to have a job that required benefits and a full year’s salary. I did a review of my education and life skills and realized that with a little push and a few more courses to obtain my teaching credential, I could have that full time job with benefits. After doing some more homework, I discovered that teachers are paid better if they have a Master’s degree. I found a good university where I could complete my course work online. Meanwhile, I was able to supplement my income with a part-time job in sales. The entire process of receiving my degree happened in about a year and a half. I would not have done anything differently. It was a lot of work but felt good when I was done.

On a good day, when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?

Most of my days as a teacher are good days! What makes me feel really great is seeing the looks on the student faces when the “brain light” goes on and they truly “get” a point that I am trying to get them to see. Or when something makes everyone laugh until it hurts. When the balance of seriousness and fun is reached…that’s when I am feeling at the top of my game. On the other hand, there are days when nothing goes well. Kids come into the classroom with attitudes that disrupt the mood of the others. It’s sort of like an infection that spreads really fast. Kids have bad days too, and those days are the toughest to deal with.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
Learning how to cope with the stress of dealing with 25 to 35 teenagers on a daily basis means that you have to establish a management style that is right for you from the first day of classes. If you don’t grab a hold of it right from the start, you will have a difficult time. I have written a number of letters of resignation during my time as a teacher – each time I have torn them up when a student makes the sun shine! All it takes is one! I also maintain a healthy work-life balance by leaving school behind when I go home. Kids can become all consuming and you have to be their teacher and not their best friend. They have plenty of “best friends.”

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?

On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate my job satisfaction as an 8 because the pay level for a teacher in the state in which I live is very low and it would be good if there were an increase in the base pay of a teacher. Also, teachers seem to be required to be counselors, mentors, and even stand-ins for parents due to the fact that there are so many dysfunctional families and single parent families where the mother or father is too busy trying to make ends meet, that there is not enough time in the day to pay close attention to the needs of the kids. The burden falls on the teacher to pick up the slack.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
The salary range in this state for a beginning teacher is roughly $29,000 for someone with no experience. It goes up to approximately $50,000 for someone with multiple degrees and experience. Most schools here are not year round schools, so there is generally a two and a half months time when you are not working daily.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?

The most rewarding moment of my working life so far is to have had all my students pass the state exams without exception. To see that kind of improvement from the first part of the year when some students come in with major writing and comprehension problems, to being able to pass with flying colors, is truly remarkable.

What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?

Of course, I would prefer to forget the times that you have to call parents of unruly students, or have to flunk a senior who cannot graduate because of his/her bad grades is sad. All in all, the kids still know that you cared enough to be honest and be the best role model you can be.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

We can all remember the names of special teachers we had in our own school experiences. In fact, many older people can still remember the name of a favorite teacher 50 years later! That speaks volumes. In order to succeed in this field of teaching, you have to have the desire for passing on knowledge in a field that you have passion for, the consistency of sticking with getting a degree and teaching credential in that subject that interests you, and pursuing excellence. I would urge anyone who wants a good job that you can grow with, and likes kids as well, to go into the teaching profession. What other job can you have where you have a 2 months break, lots of holidays and time off, where your professional development is paid for, and you are remembered for the rest of your life?

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
If I could write my own ticket five years down the road, I would most likely want to go into administration or become a curriculum specialist. There are so many opportunities for further growth in the education profession that you can literally pick and chose where you want to be. The jobs in teaching and education can move your heart and can move the heart of a youngster as well. After all, learning is for a lifetime.

Business and Sales Diversity Career Stories Management

Vice President of Sales learns to adapt in tough economic times

This vice president of sales for a small family owned company shares how he went from a career in scientific research, to excelling in management and sales roles in a completely different industry.

What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
My title is Vice President of Sales. I work for a small internet company and report to the CEO. I’ve been with this company for 8 years and in a sales role for around 15 years.

Would you describe the things you do on a typical day?
Working for a small company, I wear many hats with both sales and other responsibilities. A large portion of my time is spent strategizing with the sales team about current accounts and new potential accounts, creating solutions to set our company apart from the competition and winning their business. I am also involved with recruiting new sales people, marketing our products, giving interviews and product development. I’m involved with most things except for IT.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?
I am very satisfied with my job, right at the top of the scale. I have flexible hours, I work in a nice office, I have great coworkers, I have job security, I am involved with the direction and business decisions of the company. I wish our office was closer to my home as I am much more productive at the office, though I do have the ability to work from home from time to time.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
Firing and laying off people is difficult. That might seem like an obvious statement, but as I mentioned above, I like and have enjoyed working with practically ever single person that ever worked here. With the economic downturn a few years ago, our company needed to let go of a dozen employees, and it was not all in one sweep; rather, it happened on a painful one-at-a-time course. Being in a leadership role, I have been involved in more of those conversations than I’d like to remember. It gives me no satisfaction to call someone into my office and let them know they are being let go, answering the bewildered questions while remaining firm. Even with the few rare times we actually fired people in a contentious way, those were not easy situations.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
I have a science degree. I even had a science career post graduation before jumping into a sales role. Personally, I wish I’d have been pushed into a business role and steered away from science. I don’t know who should have done that, certainly not my chemistry professors, but business classes more easily translate to the real world than science classes.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I guess I partially answered that question already. I’d have switched my educational path. I am very proud of my academic achievements, but post graduation, I ended up in a research job where I would not have the opportunity to advance without more education. I wish post graduation, I’d have taken some more entrepreneurial chances in a sales or marketing role, while I was still single and had no kids. Sales is more financially rewarding than any science role I could have attained, and it’s more people oriented and non-repetitive. I’ve found what I’m interested in doing in sales.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
I’ve needed to call the paramedics to our office for a sick coworker. I’ve needed to call the police to our office for a burglary. I’ve needed to call the security alarm company multiple times to stop them from sending the police. It’s not dull.

On a good day when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?
I feel good when someone on my sales team wins a difficult contract that we worked on together. We met the client’s needs creatively and cost effectively and everybody wins.

When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?
Months when sales are not so great, when companies push their decisions back, trying to get by to try to make a month satisfactory. Those months seem to attract unsatisfied customers too that want to chat with me.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
My job is not stressful overall, though it has its moments. I do have a healthy work-life balance. I can work at home if necessary, I can take my kid to his orthodontist appointment without being worried that I’ll be punished. However, with that balance comes the responsibility of answering the 10pm sales person’s important call or figuring something out on a Saturday afternoon.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
Salary is only part of a sales professional’s compensation. Performance based commissions are an important piece of the puzzle. I’ve worked in sales jobs that are 100% commission based and been highly successful. Those are usually a bit more stressful but more financially rewarding, even topping $100K. I started with this company in a sales role and moved to management. A sales person here can earn between 50K and 100K, perhaps even more, depending on experience, skill, position, and all are greatly affected by the general economic environment of the country.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the growth the company had the first several years I was in a management role. But I’m also proud of the accomplishments and achievements that happened as our revenues were cut in half in the economic downturn. Creating a successful new event series, diversifying our business line, and forward thinking to where the industry would be years down the line.

What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?
The most challenging was cutting costs as business slowed a few years ago. I think everyone including myself in this company was in denial a little too long, was a little too optimistic about a quick rebound, dragged feet on cutting expenses that were deemed necessary. Hindsight is nice. I’d prefer to forget being involved with laying off the people we did in order to cut payroll costs, as I’ve already mentioned.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
I believe a college degree is a huge plus, though it’s entirely possible to hold this position based solely job experience. Companies need to take note that awesome sales people are often terrible Sales Managers, and that transition is often impossible. Patience, reliability, fairness, firmness, excellent product knowledge are key. Being able to handle strong personalities and reward success and encourage improvement are also important. Strong computer and research skills and industry business knowledge are musts. Excellent writing and speaking and phone skills are necessary as well.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
It is not day-to-day. Your paycheck will go up and down like a see saw. But it can be rewarding. Pick an industry that interests them as every company sells. You need to be passionate and believe in the product and industry.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I have plenty of days to take. I should take more advantage of them.

Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
Respected sales people are consultants for their clients and that’s the kind of team I strive to have. No one wants to be the sales person that is known as a nag or fits the stereotypes that “sales” sometimes has.

Does this job move your heart? If not, what does?
I am passionate about the job and love the combination of speed from both advertising sales and being online!  I am passionate about other things too, but they are centered around family. I am very involved with my two boys’ little league baseball teams.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
Since my work location is flexible, I’d like to take this job to a more rural location, one that isn’t hot and isn’t cold. One where there’s no traffic and I can go fishing at lunch time.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
Though I am a sales manager, I almost never see any of my sales team. I’m not sure that’s unique, but many people may not realize that is the way technology has changed this type of position.

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
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.

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.
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!