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Resource Guide for Hiring Managers

UC Merced became a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in 2010.  Since 2015, UC Merced started offering Spanish language Summer Orientations for undergraduates and their Spanish-speaking parents and guests.  This guide provides departments with information on hiring orally proficient staff members in Spanish, onboarding, and tips on retaining Spanish-speaking bilingual staff.  As a research institution and a leader as an HSI in the system, we must attract and assess bilingual staff members.  Monolingual Spanish-speakers must be welcomed by professional staff that is proficient and prepared to represent the university.  Bilingualism is trending in various fields from education to healthcare; UC Merced is also preparing the future workforce.  Bilingual staff will be seen as role models, and they will remove barriers for parents who often contribute to the retention of first-year students.  Monolingual Spanish-speaking parents, guests, and community members deserve to have linguistically, and culturally competent staff speak to them.

It is also essential to understand that the translation of documents should be outsourced due to the required expertise.  Translating documents is time-consuming, and staff members may not have the capacity for their workload.  If you have questions about translating documents, you can contact LAC to learn about appropriate vendors.

Now it is essential to identify the need in the department for Spanish-speaking staff members.  Before submitting your job description to human resources, consider the following questions:

  • Would it be helpful to have a culturally and linguistically appropriate bilingual staff member to relate to monolingual Spanish-speaking parents, community members, or bilingual students?

  • Who can now relate to Spanish-speaking students or engage with monolingual Spanish-speaking parents?

If you want to incorporate new practices on hiring bilingual staff members, consider the following interventions.

Hiring suggestions to successfully hiring Bilingual Staff members:

  1. Identify the Spanish-language needs within the department.  Identify the salary scale for bilingual staff members compared to monolingual English-speaking staff (consult with Human Resource).  For example, will they be required to engage with Spanish-speaking students, parents, and community members?  As a manager, you need to learn and research bilingual staff members' time, skills, and capacity to engage people in Spanish.  For example, LAC recommends that staff need time for preparation, such as reviewing content in Spanish and practicing for cultural norms.

  2. Include content about the language needed within the job description.  What percentage of their time will it take, or only be required during a special event.  Some activities may require more time to prepare or complete.

  3. Human Resources (HR) can assist you in making sure the job is advertised on cultural-specific list serves, and they may be associated with a fee.  Review the cost with your HR representative. 

  4. When inviting someone to participate in your hiring process, make sure to be upfront and let them know that you will be evaluating their oral proficiency in Spanish.  Someone needs to prepare for specific topics or relevant content from your department.

  5. Identify how you will evaluate someone's oral proficiency and written skill.  If you identify bilingual Spanish-speaking staff, make sure to have two staff members at least to make sure they can assess the language.

  6. What you should consider after you appoint bilingual staff on the committee.  Review the following questions as you develop an inclusive process:

  • Spanish-speaking staff members in the hiring committee?

  • Will you ask questions in Spanish and ask for responses in Spanish?

  • Who will ask the questions, and how will the response be evaluated for proficiency?

The question(s) should be asked to each candidate, and they can opt out.

       7.  Suggested questions to ask in English if you do not have bilingual staff on the hiring committee:

  • What languages do you speak, and with what proficiency?

  • How often do you use the language in a professional setting?

  • How often do you use your Spanish language skills, and how do you prepare to engage with monolingual Spanish-speaking people?

Onboarding new bilingual staff members:

  1. Make sure you provide them with options to learn the necessary vocabulary or department content.  LAC may be able to help translate materials or offer referrals.

  2. Encourage staff to review Spanish materials to enhance their vocabulary in the relevant department.

  3. Staff members can also audit Spanish courses to refresh their language skills.  They may contact LAC to get more guidance.

  4. Bilingual staff members should be asked to engage with parents, guests, and community members; however, they should not be asked to be interpreters or translators.

  5. Make sure supervisors are also knowledgeable about language justice; as an HSI campus, students, staff, faculty, and community members should have the right to access higher education information.  Implementing language justice on our campus means that departments are proactive in engaging people in Spanish or other non-English languages   Resource on language justice and link

  6. Please encourage them to attend LAC monthly meetings or programs.

Retaining Staff members:

  1. Create a safe and inclusive department to encourage staff to speak in Spanish.  LAC has received feedback that some bilingual staff members have felt microaggressions from supervisors and/or peers.  Some bilingual staff members have also felt pressured to translate and interpret; however, they do not receive training or education to improve their professional skills.  Supervisors need to engage bilingual staff members to inquire about professional development support and educate others on language justice practices.

  2. Providing access and support for staff to practice their Spanish-speaking skill.  Outsource department material to be translated to ensure staff has time to prepare and review content.

  3. Language and practicing cultural humility take time to master.  Supervisors must recognize that bilingual staff members may require more time to complete tasks while engaging or outreaching to Spanish-speaking parents, guests, and community members.

  4. Supporting bilingual staff members in attending affinity spaces or meetings to build community.

  5. Create an inclusive department culture by reporting microaggressions or educating other staff about the importance of language justice.

  6. Consult with LAC for translating department materials or when you need assistance when soliciting interpreters for events.  For example, translation may cost 20 cents per word, and it takes time for accuracy and cultural relevance.

Resources:                                                                                                                                              Garcia, G. A. (2019). Becoming Hispanic-serving institutions, opportunities for colleges and Universities. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Connect with LAC to learn about more resources.