by Jac Bergenson

“Nobody wants to talk about money.”

In a single sentence, Mr. Sean Brix, a human resources professional, summed up why he believed most students never attempt, or fail in their effort, to negotiate for a higher salary upon entering the workforce.

Mr. Brix, manager of talent acquisitions at Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, visited Aquinas Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 5, to share his resources and strategies for breaking that barrier, in a seminar entitled “The Fine Art of $alary Negotiation.”

The presenter detailed his career path, which has consisted of seven jobs within his field.  With students today jumping from job to job more frequently than in past generations, Brix said, it is all the more important to negotiate for salary increases that are “incremental over time.”

Young professionals can leave “a million dollars on the table by the time you’re 60 [years old],” Brix stated, if they neglect to negotiate. He illustrated a large gender gap in today’s industry, with men four times more likely than women to negotiate.

Those who negotiate, he declared, earn a 7.4% difference in salary, boosting their salary by $4,000 per annum, on average. To inquire nicely, but firmly, he went on, is to “increase your salary, and increase your earning potential.”

During the college’s “free period,” students who attended the seminar learned tactics and strategies to better their chances for a successful negotiation. Mr. Brix first detailed the importance of research at websites such as Vault.com and Payscale.com, and of determining the costs and benefits of leaving one job for another. He then illustrated when, and how, to approach the topic.

To the surprise of many of the students in the audience, Mr. Brix stated not to “talk about salary in the interview.”

Rather, Mr. Brix emphasized the value of earning the respect of the interviewer and winning the job; salary discussions, he said, are best discussed face-to-face or via telephone following the initial interview. The best inquiries, he said, follow an initial offer from the interviewer, and are fair and logical in their reasoning.

Mr. Brix also encouraged students to use competitors’ offers to their advantage, encouraging them to gently force a potential employer’s hand by telling them that another firm had given a compelling offer.  He cautioned the students, however, to be cautious in how they proceed—a gracious denial of an employer’s offer will open more doors in the future than burned bridges.

Nina Gecosala, a senior public relations major, attended the seminar. Gecosala said that Mr. Brix, “provided plenty of stories and situations more than facts and pointers, but it was all very helpful and informative.”

Gecosala appreciated the “good tips,” like, “making sure not to give a range of salary,” and “not to accept the job and then negotiate.”

At the close of the conversations the students had learned a wealth of information that will assist their job searches upon graduation.  “Build those networks,” he told attendees, encouraging students to approach him if they had any more questions, or if they wanted him to join their LinkedIn networks.

So, anyone want to talk about money?