Why Don’t Employers Include Salaries in Job Posts?

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Transcript

Ben Forstag:

Welcome to Find Your Dream Job, a podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Ben Forstag, managing director of Mac’s List. I’m here with the Mac’s List team, Mac Prichard, our fearless leader, founder, and publisher, and Jenna Forstrom, our community manager.

On this bonus episode we’re going to talk about one of the biggest frustrations people encounter with online job postings. The all too common practice of job announcements that don’t include a starting salary. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post on this topic explaining the reasons, good and bad, why so many employers don’t list the salary range. This post generated a lot of comments and conversation, so I thought we would discuss this on our podcast. Mac, I’m going to put you on the hot seat as a business owner, here. Why don’t some employers include salary in their job postings?

Mac Prichard:

Well, when you ask employers this, what they say is they want to see … They want to test the market, and they want to see what kind of response they get, and figure out through the hiring process what might be a competitive salary. That’s the reason, I think in the long run it’s a mistake, I think it’s a mistake because usually employers have a budget, and they usually have a figure in mind. I think in the long run they will save themselves time and trouble by being clear about that amount, and one way to do it while testing the market, to see what kind of, the quality of the applications you get, is to set a range. We at Mac’s List strongly encourage our advertisers on the job board to post a salary range, because it’s good not only for the applicants, it helps them get clear about what the market employers are paying, but it’s also good for employers because it saves them the trouble of hearing from applicants who once, if a range isn’t provided, probably aren’t going to be interested in continuing the interview process.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, and you know, in my research I found there’s a lot of different reasons that people state why employers don’t do this, some of them are, like you said, what I would say is kind of neutral. That they’re just kind of shopping around, they’re not sure of the price, and they’re trying to figure out the price on the market. Some of them are good, I saw some recruiters say sometimes they don’t list a salary because they’re willing to pay more to the right candidate, and they don’t want to scare off the perfect candidate where they low-ball salary range that they would pay to the average person that they higher. Then there was some negative reasons, some folks out there say, and I think there’s some truth to this, that not including salary information increases discrimination gaps between men and woman, and between minority and majority candidates, and that some folks would also argue that it’s a race to the bottom, right? Again, it’s just like in competitive job markets employers know they don’t need to compete on price, and so they’re trying to push prices down.

One of the things I think, though, is that this is a reality, right, and would you agree with me, Mac and Jenna, that this is probably not going to change in the near future. We can’t force employers to do this, unfortunately.

Mac Prichard:

We can’t, and it is a reality that people will have to deal with. There are steps they can take, job applicants, to overcome these barriers, and I know you’ve got some suggestions about that, and Jenna does as well.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, so what would you suggest, Jenna? For someone who, the salary is not listed, they’re interested in the job, what would the next step be?

Jenna Forstrom:

Research the company’s website, and see if they post any other job listings, like in a relative field, so if they’re hiring a senior position, or maybe an entry level position and they post a job offer, or a job salary range, and then go on your favorite resource, Glassdoor.com, and see what is comparable for your geography and location. Then if you know anyone that does that role, see how much they make if they’re willing to share that information. Those would be my three things.

Ben Forstag:

Do you think you can just ask? Can you just write to the hiring manager, and say, “Hey, you didn’t list a salary range there. How much does this job pay? I’d like to know before I apply.”

Mac Prichard:

I think that’s a fair question, and …

Ben Forstag:

I mean, I think it’s fair too, but would you think employers look kindly upon that?

Mac Prichard:

Well, I think they are either going to tell you, or they’re going to say, “No, we haven’t set that figure yet.” It’s going to be one or the other, but it’s, I think by asking the question you’re sending a signal that this is an important fact for candidates, and if you’re chasing the job you’re probably qualified, and competitive, and attractive. When employers get those signals from people they hope to attract to their organization, that’s a powerful thing.

Ben Forstag:

Funny story, I actually applied for a job once that didn’t have a starting salary, and they invited me in for an interview. I went through the entire interview, and when it came to, “So what questions do you have?” I said, “Oh, well you know what, you didn’t include a salary range there. How much does this job pay?” And the response was, “We’re really not ready to disclose that yet.” I read between the lines there, which was, “You’re not the candidate for us,” and that’s fine, but I think at a certain point if they want you, they’re going to let you know what that range is, and it just may well be at the end of a first interview. That might be as good as you’re going to get. What I’m getting from you guys is, this is a dynamic that happens a lot. I think we all agree, it’s not the greatest situation, and we wish it was different.

Mac Prichard:

It is frustrating for job seekers.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, I think we’ve all been there, but that there are some strategies to work around this. Namely research, and asking around.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I really like Jenna’s suggestions about looking at places like Glass Door, and if you know people who’ve worked at that organization, or in touch with current employees, it’s okay to ask them, if you have a relationship, “What are you hearing internally about the salary range for positions like this?”

Ben Forstag:

Great. Thank you so much, guys. Appreciate it.

Back in July of 2016, Ben Forstag published an article on Mac’s List, Why Employers Don’t Include Salaries in their Job Posts (and What You Can Do About It). This piece sparked a lengthy and lively discussion in the comments section.

We decided to continue the conversation on this week’s Find Your Dream Job podcast.  Mac, Ben and Jenna discuss why employers don’t post a salary range in a job posts and share tips on how you can work around this all-too-common practice.

Our tips include:

  • Researching other job postings by the company.
  • Using Glassdoor.com to come up with an estimate.
  • Asking the hiring manager, recruiter or personal contact you know at the company.