It’s many candidates’ nightmare. They’ve seen a job advert which interests them, but there’s no salary information included. While deeply frustrating for candidates, it’s complicated for companies to post public information about salaries. We take a look at the reasons why employers keep salary information hidden on job posts.
Everyone will have read a job advert and undoubtedly they’ll have seen those dreaded words about the salary – ‘depending on experience’ or ‘competitive’. Those phrases are almost useless for you to judge the potential salaries on offer for the role.
Most companies will head into hiring with a particular budget in mind for their ideal candidate. They’ll have a minimum amount they’ll pay to ensure they can attract a certain amount of experience. There will also be a maximum they are willing to offer. This may be based on salary grades within the business like the BBC’s pay grades, or an allocated portion of the budget. If employers know the salary range, why don’t they include this information in job adverts?
When employers decide to share salary levels in the public domain, that information is out there forever and may make current employees jealous. Imagine a vacancy for a similar role in your team was posted online with a higher salary to attract the very best talent, you’ll suddenly feel undervalued and possibly resentful. For employers, this is a terrible situation – resentful employees don’t remain at the business that long.
In addition, employers avoid publishing salaries to ensure salary packages remain private and potentially unknown to industry competitors. With every employer keeping the salary under wraps until later in the process, people are less likely to jump ship to a similar role at a competing business.
If you’re successful in applying for a vacancy, completing multiple interviews and receiving an offer, then the employer holds most of the cards if they haven’t published the salary range. They will make estimates about your salary level to offer what they believe to be reasonable.
If employers were to publish the salary on offer for a role, candidates would know how much wriggle room they have to negotiate higher salaries, and creates an expectation that all candidates would receive an offer towards the higher end of the range. This isn’t always the case, salary ranges are there to ensure the most experienced are rewarded for their expertise, whereas a more junior colleague learning the ropes has the incentive to learn to achieve the higher salary packages. Ultimately, keeping their cards close to their chest means employers can secure talent on lower wages.
However, there are ways you can find out the remuneration package on offer – just ask towards the end of an interview. It’s in your interest and the employers to know what could be on offer. Without that information, you may end up getting an offer that is lower than your current salary package.
Many countries are beginning to legislate rules to ensure job adverts include the potential salary packages on offer. In 2019, Latvia passed laws forcing employers to advertise roles with an expected salary level for each job advertised. The US State of Colorado now enforces similar rules requiring job adverts to include hourly wages or salary ranges – with potential fines up to $10,000 for employers which don’t.
Elsewhere, some countries have gone a step further to mitigate hidden salaries. In Norway, no salaries are kept secret as everyone’s salary, assets and taxes are published for all Norwegians to see. This system has been in place since 1814, when salary information was collected and reproduced in a book, but Norwegians only need their national ID to sign in to an online system.
How can you find out the salary level? Well, the simplest solution is applying for the role you’re interested in. Applications are reviewed and hiring managers will contact those that have the right fit, looking to invite them to an interview. Most of the time, the first stage is an informal chat about your background and an opportunity to learn more about the role – so it’s an ideal time to ask about salary and the company. While it may take 30 to 60 minutes, it’s also an opportunity to network with professionals in your industry and you might discover some industry gossip you’re missing out on.
At Action Media Jobs, whenever we can identify a salary on offer, we’ll always include it in the job advert for your information. On top of that, we also track salaries among some of the largest employers in the media industry, including the BBC. They tend to post their vacancies with salary bands labelled as A, B, C… so we found out what the salary ranges are.