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Show me the salary! (jobbox.io)
128 points by pauloteixeira on Feb 26, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 187 comments

A big problem here in London is the willingness of big firms, especially financial ones to pay market rate in all conditions. An example:

I work at an IB, doing Python/Quant development. We are presented with two candidates to interview.

Candidate 1 is ok, has a year or two of Python but otherwise mostly Java background. Did so-so in the algo and numerical discussions, was ok in the problem solving categories. He was currently earning 75k and was asking for a 5k bump. HR were fine with this.

Candidate 2 was unbelievable, has authored and contributed to many open source Python libraries, was well known in the community, did very well in the questions, would have been an absolute asset to the team and business. He is currently earning 50k at a Django shop. HR rejected his application as hge asked for 70k, on the grounds that the jump was too big. Even though it was less than the overall pay for candidate 1.

Employers suck hard sometimes!

As a technical manager, I regularly have a similar problem. I often hire folks [in Mexico and Brazil] with minimal experience, either fresh from school or coming off their first 1-2yr job(s) out of school. As such, we pay them pretty low. If they prove their value and become key contributors, I naturally want to give them a 50-100% raise after a year or so. This always results in painful discussions with HR/Comp about why our typical "20% max salary increase" rule is stupid and inapplicable. I usually, but not always, triumph. Last year one guy got a 98.5% raise. :D Doing things like that always makes me feel really good.

This is awesome. Kudos to you.

You are doing these guys a favour, but it is also very beneficial to the company in the long run. If they are good and aren't treated well then they will leave. It is as simple as that.

I'm also guessing that since you're getting them so cheaply to begin with then they're likely still under market rate with a ~75% bump in pay.

I've worked in one company which gave a spontaneous raise after ~1 year, and another that declined to give any raise after years. I know which one has more motivated employees.

That's pretty ridiculous. I guess I don't feel bad about being less than honest when asked by a potential employer about my current salary. It's really none of their business.

It can get worse - I know of people who have been asked by the IB to prove their current salary/bonus levels, to avoid inflation or overstated earnings. They do also verify via the P45 as well.

Best bet is to join one, if you have to, from a contractor route. Then you have an advantage, as they know you are most likely on a higher rate and are not willing to muck around with the usual HR demands.

So a potential employer can verify your current salary through the government? That's terrible. I don't think employers have that ability here in the states, but I could be wrong.

It's a small downside to the massive upside that in the UK most people don't have to do their own taxes, their employers and the government do it all for them.

Hence the employers need to know how much you've earnt and how much PAYE tax you've paid so far this tax year (via a form called a P45).

I guess you could get round it by claiming you had unpaid leave, or you'd recently been given a pay rise, or you'd been offered the figure by your previous company to stay.

So a potential employer can verify your current salary through the government?

That's not strictly true, but in the UK employers are normally required to deduct the main income taxes before paying the employee's salary and they are responsible for remitting those taxes to the government. To do this, they need to know how much total salary a new starter has earned so far in the current tax year, in order to make the correct determinations about tax rates and therefore deduct the correct withholdings before paying salary.

So, when you leave an employment mid-year you get an official record of how much you've been paid so far that year in that employment, along with how much was deducted for taxes etc. A new employer will normally want to see these records for any previous employment within the same tax year.

That doesn't mean they can actually see your previous salary. If you started on 6 April (edit: This is the first day of the new tax year in the UK) and therefore hadn't had any previous employment in the same tax year, or if you had previously worked multiple jobs, or had a pay rise, or anything else irregular, then they can't do the arithmetic to reverse engineer the salary from what they've been told for tax calculation purposes. But if you've had one regular job since the start of the year and no significant changes in salary or bonuses, this does mean a quick division will tell them exactly what you were on before.

Don't you get the P45 after you left your old company? Which means they can only look at it after you were hired.

Also, why is it the employee's responsibility to not drive inflation? If the company is fine with paying someone X for a job, why does it matter what the person earned before?

Well, that would be a great first impression if the very first thing the company found out about you was that you've lied in the interview about how much you've earned before.

thats absolutely batshit. just agog at other comments claiming this is a feature. no way it's worth tiny amount of time and effort saved.

This is why you shouldn't lie about your salary. They'll find out your current salary. If they can prove you lied at interview, you could be fired at any time.

Market rates are complicated, and it's not unusual for employers to do this. For high-value people, the big guys (Google, Amazon, Microsoft) can and will match crazy high counteroffer numbers a lot of the time. It sucks, and this leads to the exact scenario you're describing. The justification these places use is that, "We don't ever want to lose good people simply because of money."

The flip side of this is that it's easy to bump your market rate - just get counteroffers. This provides the basis firms are looking for. Some people are more ruthless about than others, of course - it can lead to the sorts of disparity you're seeing.

In an ideal world we would have more uniform salary numbers with transparency around them, but until we get to that world, it's contingent on individuals to put in the work to set themselves up for success.

[0] I founded http://OfferLetter.io - we provide negotiation advice and career services

[1] PS - you should check out the Offer Drive (http://offerletter.io/drive.html) - "Confidentially submit your offers. Learn if you're paid fairly." as the tagline goes.

For financial IT in London specifically, I would always advise people to state you have multiple interviews and roles on the go, and do so, so that if you are made an offer, get it in writing, even though then pretend it is an time limited offer, and then get at least one or two rounds of counter offer. And don't feel bad about doing it. They will squeal a bit, but it is just business at the end of the day. And yes, do job hop from time to time or else your pay will stagnate. A good rule of thumb is to interview every three to six months to establish your market potential and look at the difference on your current role.

Offer Drive looks interesting. You should either internationalise it (right now the salary field only accepts numbers and doesn't specify what currency, and there's no "country" field) or clarify that it's only for your country (presumably the USA, but there's actually no clue about that on your site).

Brit here, wanted to take part but wasn't sure if my submission would be meaningful.

Thanks for the feedback! Unfortunately TypeForm (which we're using right now) is a little difficult on the internationalization front, but you're welcome to input the specific unit of currency alongside the value.

Nope, you can only input numbers.

MathWorks tried to pull similar shit with me. When we started discussing salary while setting up an on-site the recruiter balked at the salary delta I was asking for, not the absolute number. It was one of a few reasons I ultimately declined the on-site.

This is why you shouldn't tell prospective employers your current salary.

if you're flipping something you wouldn't tell the buyer what you bought it for.

this has nothing to do with which party is stating the price.

How HR knew about their current salary? Did they tell it themselves? Cause it's clearly not beneficial.

In UK your employer can see what you've earned before. As explained elsewhere, it's because unless you run your own company you don't have to do your own taxes. Government does it for you, even if you have multiple jobs they will figure out exactly how much you need to pay without you bothering with it. But the downside is that yes, you have to disclose how much you've earned before(there are situations when you can make the figure appear slightly larger or smaller,but it's not very easy).

Might be worth mentioning that the P45 form with previous salary only comes into play once a company has hired you and are doing salary tax paperwork.

So declining to state current salary before receiving an offer is still very much a possibility.

I've got a handful of general rules around salary that tell me not to apply for certain jobs:

- I don't apply to jobs that don't list a salary range. This is a red flag that tells me that the employer doesn't have the budget to pay market rates and that applying and interviewing could be a colossal waste of time for both of us. I get that the employer may not be willing to pay what I want based on my experience, etc, but the salary range tells me if getting what I want is even possible.

- I also don't apply for jobs that don't list an annual salary. I get the vibe, rightly or wrongly, that when you only list a monthly salary you don't expect to keep your new hire around very long.

- Jobs that are listed as "xx months with possibility of extension" are also right out. A job, for me anyway, represents a huge commitment and if the employer isn't willing to make that same commitment then I'm not interested.

I usually follow all of these. The one thing that gets me is when a recruiter calls me up. I usually talk to them because I don't want to be a dick and you never know they my actually be valuable one day. I tell them my salary. "oh well this one pays about 70% of that and it's an 8 month contract. I'd like to put you in for this". I'm not leaving a full time position for a contract position with less pay. I might consider a contract position at about 150-200% of my current pay.

I find telling recruiters my salary is a really bad idea. They then tell the company I am applying to what my salary is, which is a really shitty way to start off salary negotiations. I actually just don't work with recruiters anymore due to such a shitty experience.

Yeah my new rule of thumb is to avoid telling them what I make and try to tell them what it will take for me to leave my current position. I think I'm underpaid so I don't want to start by telling them how underpaid I am.

You can tell them a high target that would absolutely get your interest in the job. If it hits, great next step in your career. If it misses, no skin off your back.

Either lie about your salary, or give them a higher target. For FTE, I give recruiters a decidedly large number. It's not undoable in this region - I know a few people in that range - but it's generally high enough that they (occasionally) laugh at me. But I did have someone get back and say they could get to about 80% of that, which was a good starting point (ultimately didn't land the position, but probably would have taken it at the time).

Do NOT lie about your salary.

You do not have to tell your salary, but lying - is bad for carma.

Telling your salary target is a good idea that saves time for everyone involved, but it should be clearly outlined as a target, not as your current salary.

on second glance, I tend to agree, but I would never disclose my current salary anyway. I have lied in the past, although the 'lie' was... more combining external benefits for a slight inflation of base pay.

But... just never bother telling your current salary. It doesn't help you in dealing with recruiters at all.

"$x is what will make me consider a new position" is all you need to say.

In my recent round of looking for work, the first thing I've asked the recruiter is what the pay range for the job is, and almost all of them have given it.

That's reasonable, but I've found that I am no longer put off by open-ended contracts. I found many companies doing this because they know their hiring practices aren't good enough to weed out posers. If you are good at your job, you have little to worry about. Besides, I've lost more jobs that were "permanent" than contract. Employer commitment is a fairy tale from the days of yore.

In which case they should expect to pay a premium to compensate the good employers for the risk they take on switching. Around where I live, they often use contracting companies on a contract to hire, and in that case the profit the contracting company is making is the premium, but one that the employee isn't getting. This results worse candidates on average as the best are going to either demand the guarantee from the start or that they receive the extra pay for the risk instead of it going to a contracting company.

This is what a probation period is for. I have no issue applying to a job that is "Permanent with XX month probation period".

I agree that in a perfect world, that would be the proper way, but I also know I would have missed out on some excellent opportunities if I took that attitude.

I don't apply to jobs that don't list a salary range. This is a red flag that tells me that the employer doesn't have the budget to pay market rates and that applying and interviewing could be a colossal waste of time for both of us.

This one also has an evil sibling: you say something meaningless like "Salary: Competitive" and then when an applicant turns up to interview, you ask them what they're currently on. I see absolutely no reason, from the candidate's point of view, that discussing current compensation with a prospective future employer would ever work in your favour.

Worst case (edit: for not disclosing your current deal) is that the manager/HR drone stick to their guns and won't move the discussion on before you give a number, in which case you know what kind of employer you're dealing with and can decide to leave the interview early if your interest in working with them has faded.

"Salary: Competitive" almost always means "15 to 40% undermarket", in my experience. If the Salary was truly competitive, they wouldn't be ashamed to post it.

Similarly, if they say "Good" or "Great" benefits, the benefits are probably poor or average at best. If they actually had really good benefits, they'd be specific about naming them.

"Salary: Competitive" almost always means "15 to 40% undermarket", in my experience.

That sounds about right, though it could be even less if they're aiming at new graduates and can throw in some sort of impressive-looking benefits. An employee stock options scheme or contributory pension scheme often seems like a great addition to a new starter, because the naive candidate doesn't understand how much such things are really worth and how much of the package they'd probably get from other employers as well.

You tell them the number you want, and you round waaaay up, of you reply "Confidential", or "X-to-Y, variable".

I had a hiring manager push me hard for this info at one job. I ended up taking the job (maybe lower pay than I could have gotten) and he turned out to be one of the worst people to teamwork with at the company.

> I don't apply to jobs that don't list a salary range. This is a red flag that tells me that the employer doesn't have the budget to pay market rates

Do you only work for startups? Most major tech companies don't list salary ranges, and Google, Facebook, etc obviously have the money to pay what people are worth.

I've always worked outside of technology companies. It seems to be the norm, at least with the organizations I've applied to, to list a salary range.

These are good rules when the going is good. But you need to be flexible when times are bad. In technology (and probably many other industries), it's feast and famine. Whilst today, a good engineer can expect to see recruiters spamming them weekly or even daily, this wasn't the case in, say, 2001-4, 2008-9. Your rules also seem to be for people who already have jobs. When you're unemployed, your pickiness factor has to be zero--any job is better than no job.

When you're unemployed, your pickiness factor has to be zero--any job is better than no job.

This is true only if you also have nothing put away from the good times to cover your essential living costs for a while and give you a safety margin.

Assuming you do -- and you need a very, very good reason not to in this business -- then taking the first offer that comes along just because you're currently unemployed is very much not the optimal strategy. You voluntarily reduce your negotiating power to nothing, and if that were really necessary, no professional contractor/freelancer would ever survive in business for long.

Yea, yea.. On the Internet, everyone has a fully-stocked 12-month emergency fund (and a supermodel girlfriend). In reality, nobody does. I can tell you, as someone who's been unemployed and a month away from living in my car, you take whatever job comes along. You can fret about your "optimal strategy" and "future negotiating power" while you are enjoying your next hot meal.

In reality, nobody does.

I'm sorry for the situation you found yourself in, but that isn't remotely true. I've been working independently for a while, and I've sometimes discussed how much is worth putting somewhere safe in the current economic climate with friends in broadly similar positions. The idea that anyone wouldn't do that was universally regarded as crazy.

Of course there might be exceptions. If you're starting your first business and you're bootstrapping, you might choose to accept a much higher level of risk than most normal employees ever would in order to maximise your chance of eventual success. (I know reasonable people who would disagree with even this, but there is at least a decent argument in its favour.) If you have a dependent with a serious medical problem and you need the money to fund treatment, you do what you have to do.

But if you're working in IT, in a good period, and you really are living month-to-month without either building up an emergency fund or having a clear reason to be spending everything you've got on something that is more important to you, I'd recommend consulting a good financial advisor and working out a budget so you can live within your means and better protect yourself before the next down period in the industry.

That's awesome that you can do that, congrats! It's definitely a great goal for anyone, to one day get to that point, I totally agree.

Just for anyone who is reading this and wondering if they could or should be saving up this kind of fund, here's a very simple but not unrealistic example.

Suppose you're working in software development in the UK, recently graduated and now with a little experience but still quite early in your career.

If you're outside London and living in a shared place, maybe your salary is £30k, and your monthly living costs for rent, bills, and essentials like food and travel are £1,500. Your net monthly income after taxes and student loan repayments is probably about £1,850.

So, you have a surplus of £350 per month. If you set that aside throughout your next year of employment, sticking it in an ISA (a tax-exempt savings account), then by the end of that year you have nearly three months of safety margin.

Suppose, ignoring inflation to make the maths easy, that your salary increases at about 10% that year, without any negotiation or changing jobs. Now your take-home pay is probably about £2,000 after deductions, giving you a £500 surplus each month. If you saved that away the following year, you'd have more than 6 months of safety margin set aside within 2 years of starting to save.

Of course these are just example figures, hopefully not unrealistic for someone early in a software development career in the UK today, and they ignore any one-off major expenses you might have like getting a car serviced and MOT'd once a year or taking a foreign holiday. But even if you do those things, you can surely still save something, and when it comes to having a bit in reserve in case your career hits a bump, anything is better than nothing.

Edit: After checking a few prices, it turns out that some costs of living have gone up much less than I expected since I was that young. :-) So actually £1,500 is probably a lot more than you really need to spend on essentials under the conditions I mentioned, even if you're living in a tech-focussed area, and saving a few months' worth of essentials expenses should be much quicker than I worked out above.

Agree. My strategy is to be able to support myself for at least 6 months if I'm out of job. Currently I'm unemployed, after leaving my last job to look for better opportunities. Turned down 2 offers last month, one from world-renowned university, because taking a job one doesn't think will keep for more than few months, will worsen one's job perspectives.

I absolutely agree. These are the rules I follow right now, but if my situation changed I would definitely become more flexible on them.

A good engineer with the right buzzwords and in the right location.

What's amazing to me is all the recruiters who call you to ask if you want to do temp-to-perm work when you have a full-time job. Why would you agree to that?

I just said the same thing. Unless I absolutely couldn't stand another day in my full time gig I would never leave for temp work.

Well, clearly the temp salary should be much higher than perm salary in order to compensate for the extra risk, right?

The salary numbers tend to magically shrink if you actually say you'd like to hear more.

Not just the extra risk, but often times you are missing out on very significant benefits which you will have to pay for out of pocket if you want them back. In my position, salary is probably about 75% of my compensation, all told. Maybe less.

Screw that, how about the recruiters who call offering straight contract work?

temp work with the possibility of extension is very common around here for both ends of the skill spectrum. The lower end is hard to evaluate, so companies give themselves an out that is not called a layoff. On the high end, accounting comes into play: Consulting fits a different bucket than full time employees, so often it's much easier to hire a consultant and pay him well than to hire the same person full time.

I look at my own current job. I was offered a full time position 6 months ago, for an amount that is pretty in line with local salaries. As a consultant, they were able to offer me a whooping 60% more, and that's after I accounted for all the benefits of the full time position.

I find it pretty screwed up, but it is the realities of the local job market, where very senior full time devs are severely underpaid unless the are consultants or telecommuting for bay area companies.

Unfortunately, this is very true. I don't understand why it's considered "cheaper" to pay more money to a consultant than the salary+overhead of a regular employee. I get that they're different parts of the budget, but ultimately it's still money spent by the organization.

It's not necessarily cheaper, but in a large organisation it could well be easier in practice.

The person making the hiring/firing decisions probably isn't responsible for the bottom line. They'll be working within defined constraints on what they are authorised to do and how much they are authorised to spend on doing it. If they want to go outside those constraints, they probably have to follow a standard procedure to request authorisation to do so, which may well involve legal as well as accounting approval, explicit approval from management at increasing levels of seniority depending on the request, etc.

If senior management haven't kept a careful eye on how their policies are actually being implemented, this can easily create perverse incentives where doing something is favourable to the person making the decision even though it is less favourable for the overall success of the organisation. The current example, hiring expensive contractors for very long term gigs instead of salaried staff, is not unusual.

Other similar results of potential interest to geeks would be things like renting SaaS rather than buying (often more expensive in the long run, but done because the relatively low recurring opex is preferred to relatively high up-front capex) and buying commercial software from a preferred supplier rather than using something Open Source for free (because preferred suppliers have been pre-vetted and approved so their product can be bought immediately, while using someone's FOSS might need legal to review the licence if it's one they haven't seen before, which can involve all kinds of "business justification" paperwork and extensive delays).

Edited to add: Of course, there may be other factors as well. Contractors might be more expensive per day but often don't come with the long-term legal obligations of hiring an employee (a big deal in places with relatively strong employment rights laws, such as most of Europe). For software purchases there may be issues of ongoing support contracts or (re)training and migration costs that dominate the total cost of ownership, making rent/buy or COTS/FOSS decisions a relatively minor factor. Sometimes the incentives set up by senior management who are looking at the big picture aren't as perverse as they look from below.

> As a consultant, they were able to offer me a whooping 60% more, and that's after I accounted for all the benefits of the full time position.

As a consultant, you're responsible for paying taxes that they would normally pay, which when combined with other benefits represents up to 50% of your total salary as a normal employee. You also lose out on a number of legal protections you gain as a regular employee.

It looks like showing salary is more common in USA but in other countries it is NOT a norm.... and unfortunately this gives an edge to the employer to play the game the way they want as very rarely supply is less than demand!

As a small business owner who's done a few successful casting calls, the problem with this article comes down to their first answer:

> Yes, you have quantity, but what about quality? How much time will you spend sorting the wheat from the chaff? How much application spam will you have to review and dispose of? And of the relevant ones, how many under- and over-qualified candidates do you need to sift through because they lacked the vital piece of information that is a salary range?

It's easy: filter the incoming candidates based on who you want to hire. Send your favorite candidates a simple email saying what you want to pay for that position, and ask if they're still interested. Interview the ones that are. (This way, you're not posting the salary number to the public, but you're still filtering candidates quickly and respecting their time.)

If none of your favorite candidates are interested at your targeted price, there's your answer. Either lower your standards and take one of the other applicants, or ask all of your favorite candidates what number it would take to get them interested. (No interviewing - you don't have the right to take up their time until you can come up with the money - you're just asking for the salary number they would need to even step into an interview.) When the numbers come back, that's what it would take to hire your favorite candidates.

This only works if the candidates still apply. A lot of the time I choose not to apply for roles without posted salaries, because there's a good chance I'm either over- or under-qualified for the role. Applying to a job takes time and effort to do properly (and it's worth doing properly).

As other people have said, you can post a range rather than a single number, and that number doesn't have to be 100% ironclad - if a range is 5-10% out for me, I'd probably still apply and try to negotiate - but I'm not going to waste my time applying for jobs only to find out they're offering £50k if I want £100k.

Check out the jobs posted here: http://oxfordknight.co.uk/jobs/

They all have salary ranges, many are quite broad, but it communicates quite clearly the level that both parties should be thinking about when entering into negotiations. So much more useful.

This is the opposite of how a lot of hiring managers I know think.

The tactic they use (how can anyone think this is a good idea...) is to hope by the end of the interview process the candidate will be so attached to the position (or invested at this point! see: throwing good money after bad, or the sunk cost fallacy) to refuse! Or maybe they'll just ask for 5k more, or something.

I have to disagree with this. If you don't do your market research ahead of time and reserve enough space in the budget to close a deal with the person you want, you are wasting the time of everyone who could close such a deal elsewhere.

They are not wasting your time. You are wasting theirs. The candidate cannot reasonably determine how well your company is able to monetize their skills ahead of time. It's the employer's job to figure that out, and offer a reasonable fraction thereof to the employee. The employer should know that the position will be profitable, otherwise advertising it as permanent would be a misrepresentation. If you don't know how technical professionals will make you money (or cut your costs), and to what extent, you have no business hiring them.

That's why whenever a company starts to discuss salary before their goals for the unfilled position and my qualifications, I back away.

I would respect a company significantly more if this is how the negotiations started. It addresses their need to determine if their range is on par with the market rate, and it allows both parties to minimize wasted time if they aren't.

Sadly I rarely see this happen in practice. It would be nice to see studies about how this affects the average cost to recruit a new employee.

In my experience, if you are useful to the company where you are, job hopping is the only way to a meaningful salary increase or career change. Also, when you do a good job programming and are not an attention whore you become wall paper.

See previous discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8940820

This is simple. I won't waste my time applying for a job that doesn't even bother to tell me what they're going to pay -- any more than I would buy a car without knowing its engine capacity, mileage, etc. The idea is idiotic.

So: the only people who will apply for jobs with no salary listed are the ones desperate for any job.

Are they the people you want to hire?

There's a difference between not posting salary and not telling a potential candidate when asked. Given that in America at least incredibly few companies post salary ranges to the public it is a stretch (and insulting) to claim applicants for positions with no posted salary are desperate.

That approach is still flawed though. In a seller's market, which I do believe the developer market currently is, the buyer is the one who has to do the marketing.

Supplying expected compensation up front is one of the best ways to market your business to developers. If I, a developer, am making $100K and you make it known that you are willing to pay $200K, I'm going to get excited and get in touch with you. If I am left to assume that you are also only offering $100K, because you "pay market rates" or haven't said otherwise, I'm not even going to waste my time getting in touch with you.

It seems like a lot of businesses feel like they are in a buyer's market, which comes with completely different rules, and then cannot figure out why it isn't working for them.

I don't disagree that posting salaries ought to be far more common than it is.

I also am not convinced that it's a seller's market. Most programmers (developers, software engineers, whatever) are treated like second-class citizens from the first phone screen through the "culture fit" portion of an on-site interview.

Regardless, my point wasn't about whether companies should or should not post salaries; it was that applicants to companies that don't ought not be considered "desperate for any job" because it is simply a fact that all but a very tiny percentage of jobs are advertised without said salary listed.

Also the analog to buying a car would be signing the contract. Not interviewing.

> So: the only people who will apply for jobs with no salary listed are the ones desperate for any job.

And people who hire complain about the bad standard of applicants!

Would a solution to Yao's Millionaires' problem help?


The candidate puts in the minimum they're willing to take into one side of the solution, and the employer puts in the maximum. Both then securely find out if the minimum is less than the maximum, without revealing the two numbers to each other.

The socialist millionaire solution is used in OTR, but this solution seems to have not caught on yet.

A lot of crypto have actual use in the real life :) I guess there is a zero knowledge solution to this problem as well

As a bonus, anybody who can implement the algorithm is a strong hire.

So, anyone who knows how to use the greater-than operator is a strong hire?

We don't broadcast our salaries with our job listings because reality is how much we're willing to pay varies candidate to candidate. Interviewing, for example, someone with seven years experience vs. fifteen (I'm simplifying what matters greatly for the sake of argument - years experience is the easiest thing to put a number to) and we would pay way more for one than the other.

Maybe that's unfair, but I don't think we've ever chosen not to hire someone because of the salary level they wanted.

"We don't broadcast our salaries with our job listings because reality is how much we're willing to pay varies candidate to candidate."

This sounds reasonable. But just to play devil's advocate for a second -- for any given role, is your variance really that high? Do you expect to field a dramatically variable range of candidates for the same level, title, or position? So variable, in fact, that establishing a ballpark range is an exercise in futility?

If you're fielding candidates with N years of experience, 1.5N years of experience, or 2N+ years of experience for the same role, maybe it's worth recalibrating your expectations for that role. Fine-tune them a bit. If your expectations are all over the map, then you're going to make a lot more work for yourself by taking on variance and trying to sift through it.

It's totally fine, even admirable, to take the position that each candidate is unique. But how unique, really? Unless we're talking about very high-level or rare positions, a reasonable and market-appropriate range will usually cover most of the variance. (That's not to say that you can't have some sort of discretionary, secondary range available for rockstars or competitive bidding situations. But aren't those typically the edge cases, and not the norm?)

This is counter to a lot of advice given, but because of this I try to address salary as one of the first questions during the initial contact I have with a potential employer. I'm fine with a range, but if they're not even in the same ballpark we've both just saved a lot of time. Similarly, if there's no way they can afford me it does us both good to wish each other well and move on.

yes, i've had major issues with this. i know what i will and will not accept and if my number is not something the employer is willing to pay, that should be the first thing discussed so we don't waste each other's time.

it's very annoying to be dragged through interviews for what turns out to be a laughable offer at the end.

once it happened worse to me, I specified my minimum acceptable price at the first contact, went trough three interviews, then they offered 87% of what I asked.

Of course they did, that is how negotiation works. You don't go up from the sticker price.

You don't say what the minimum you will work for is, you tell them what your other offers are, then you have an auction and they have to bid up.

This works really well with a liquid market. It can be harder for people who are talented in specialized professions. My wife, for instance, is highly skilled in a very specialized skillset, but it's academic, and jobs that match her skills come up a few times a year in the whole state. Even though the applicant pool is small, the illiquidity means it's difficult to say you're going to someone else. Actually, I wonder to what extent markets with very specialized (and comparatively rare) talents are affected by this illiquidity as opposed to mere supply and demand?

Agreed; this is usually the first thing I ask as well. It's basically a gauge of how serious a company is -- if they're looking for a candidate that perfectly matches my resume, but they're only offering half of what I make now, it's going to be a waste of my time to even engage with their interview process. It's also telling when they won't disclose this information: it means that they are the kind of company looking to lowball their employees, not make them partners in the success of the business. Top talent is not interested in working for a company like that.

Then have a range? Of course you need to pay different employees different salaries, but that doesn't mean you can't expose potential employees to the salary they might expect to earn.

Because if you can afford to stretch your range up to attract an elite candidate you will do.

Explaining to people who are perfectly well qualified for the job including your own existing employees why they're at the bottom of the range is an uncomfortable conversation... much more uncomfortable than explaining why an actually-hired elite candidate whose been given additional responsibilities earns 50% more salary.

> Explaining to people who are perfectly well qualified for the job including your own existing employees why they're at the bottom of the range is an uncomfortable conversation

I would imagine having to explain to your employees why you're underpaying them is a difficult conversation. But the problem is that's the employee's know, the problem is that you're underpaying them.

Sure. But just because you're more likely to pay a new hire more than your existing staff than less doesn't mean they're underpaid, or indeed not paid comfortably above market rates for their skillset (above-market payers often have the most opaque salary structures)

Most employers able to pay market rate or better would rather attract candidates for a position that are substantially better than their existing employees than substantially worse, so the feasible salary range is naturally skewed upwards even if you pad it at the bottom. Most employees don't think they belong in the bottom half of the salary range for their position, even if they do. Something has to give, and its usually transparency.

This is bull. It's about concealing from the people who are at the bottom of the range who don't deserve it. THAT'S an awkward conversation to have.

Sure, that's also awkward, but it doesn't alter the reality that many firms are perfectly happy with their existing employees, expect to fill positions with similar calibre candidates, but are prepared to pay a lot more for better.

This isn't particularly awkward.

Too bad?

Someone who applied hoping for the top of the salary bracket, and who gets an offer for the bottom of the salary bracket, is still going to be upset. And if you advertise "Salary range: $0-$10,000,000" you aren't really telling people much anyway :)

A range tells you if you and your potential employer are on the same page. I don't apply for a job expecting the top end of the range, but at the same time if the top end is less than what I'm willing to take then I don't waste my (and the employer's) time with an application.

If I saw a range like $0-$10,000,000, I wouldn't apply since it's clear that they are not taking the hiring process seriously.

The problem is, and this has happened to me personally, is you'll be told the salary is "competitive" without further details even when pushed. Of course, everyone wants to save a buck, but when you've gone through multiple rounds of interviews...spending personal days...personal time doing projects.. then you get an offer that is 1/2 the starting range for the industry and location, you have a problem!

The two times I've had that response, I've just taken my current estimate of high salary, added $20,000 and then asked them to confirm that that amount is in their definition of competitive.

First time, they said no and we stopped talking. Second time got me my current job. YMMV.

That is an excellent approach to this problem. Thanks.

Seems like an awe shucks kind of answer, if that were truly the primary concern you could post the highest and lowest salaries you hire at and explain the range.

I do agree with your policy but for different reasons. For one I haven't seen a scalable way to roll out total salary transparency with a net gain in company psychology. The problems seem to outweigh the benefits, although I think it may be possible and just not figured out yet.

>I haven't seen a scalable way to roll out total salary transparency with a net gain in company psychology

#1 Make sure everybody is paid as much as they deserve as far as you can tell. #2 Roll out total salary transparency.

Not being "scalable" sounds like another way of saying "we don't want to do #1, it sounds expensive. Secrecy is cheaper.".

I imagine there would be potential problems due to the fact that people have differing opinions about what people deserve.

For one thing, there are different but equally reasonable criteria on which to base "deserve." Maybe Bob in Engineering contributes more to company profits than Steve in janitorial, so Bob deserves to get paid more. Or maybe Steve is intensely loyal and stuck with the company through hard times and often stays late to get everything done, so Steve deserves to get paid more. Or Joe in sales hasn't been selling well this year, but his kid has cancer and he's obviously distracted and he deserves high pay because he's having such a hard time.

And of course, given a choice of criteria, people will invariably tend to choose whichever one gives them the results they like. Bob will be more likely to think the profit-based evaluation is best. Someone who's good friends with Steve will think that loyalty is more important.

Maybe it can be made to work (and it definitely can work in a smaller company), but I don't think it's as easy as you make it sound. Sometimes it's just impossible to please everybody, and if you try then you'll only succeed in displeasing everybody.

>I imagine

Perhaps you should look at some real examples rather than your imagination:


I said, "and it definitely can work in a smaller company." I don't have to look at outside examples, I'm part of such a company myself. But if you want to say I'm wrong, show me a company doing this with 10,000 employees rather than 10.

I believe there are some government departments out there (Norway perhaps?) that do this.

This implies some sort of unfairness is being hidden, which should be the easy part of the problem.

The hard part is that equitable salaries do not mean equal salaries. If you there are large differences based completely on merit it's very difficult to make someone feel good about being lower than the person sitting next to them, even if it's objectively fair.

>This implies some sort of unfairness is being hidden, which should be the easy part of the problem.

You seem to be implying that voluntarily giving out pay rises to the underpaid is easy. It isn't easy.

>The hard part is that equitable salaries do not mean equal salaries. If you there are large differences based completely on merit it's very difficult to make someone feel good about being lower than the person sitting next to them, even if it's objectively fair.

This would be the hard part if American were mostly all secret communists.

If those differences actually exist, they should be pretty easy to demonstrate.

"Scalable" means like airline prices or how westerners get consumer products from slave- or near-slave labor: the system only works if someone employees subsidize others, and they won't consent to that, so the subsidize are done secretly.

You are probably missing a lot of candidates. Maybe that's ok because employers seem to be ok with a ton of false negatives to avoid one false positive. I can't count how many positions that don't list salary that I came to find out pay about half what I expected. It's almost of waste of time for job seekers, actually for both of us.

You should have a budget for the position that you're hiring for, so a salary range should fall out of that. If you don't have a budget, how do you know what you CAN offer?

It is all about the employer maintaining the power in salary setting.

Think of airlines. In the handful of times, I've asked how much people have paid for their seat. I've gotten ranges of a couple hundred dollars in both directions for a cross-country flight. Some of it was when the ticket was bought. And I thought I was getting a deal on Priceline...

There are always disparities in salary. The most glaring and entrenched - being that of males and females of near equivalency being paid different amounts.

If all salaries were made public, you would have to equalize salaries to prevent the fomenting dissension.

This can be done at smaller organizations. For larger organizations (think Fortune 500), the higher-ups could not keep their larger salaries because a) they would not be able to justify them (as much) and b) their larger salaries may have been largely due to 'taking a larger share of the pot'.

> It is all about the employer maintaining the power in salary setting.

I agree 100% and I've always found it kind of creepy - like giving candy to a kid levels of creepy.

"Here is your pay check Mr. Jones - but be sure not to tell anyone how much it is"

is very similar to

"Here is some candy Jonny, but make sure you don't tell anyone else I gave you that candy, or how much I gave you"

In both scenarios why is the "giver" trying to conceal the details of the transaction?

Because they've got something to gain by keeping it a secret.

The culture of hiding salaries can only work in an employers interest. I can't see situations where it would be in the interest of the worker (unless they are earning silly money and feel they need some kind of "protection").

Here's a little bit of a horror story of what happens when the reverse question (engineer's current salary) is asked and answered honestly. Disclosure of current salary ultimately hurts both parties.

I was once offered a position by a certain well known Las Vegas based ecommerce company while I was living in Salt Lake and working in Park City. They asked my current salary and I told them (like a chump). When my offer finally came through it was for less than my current salary (ouch). I assumed this was a really weird way of telling me "no", so I declined the offer.

I immediately got a call from their HR wondering what the problem was. When I informed them that I wasn't going to move to Las Vegas and take a pay cut they dug in their heels and argued that their offer was really more than I was currently making since Las Vegas is so much cheaper than Park City (as I mentioned above, I never actually lived in Park City but that didn't seem to dissuade them).

If I had responded to the "how much do you make?" question by telling them how much they needed to pay me then instead of wasting everyone's time they could have terminated the interview process or even better, made their offer without being confused by irrelevant salary data.

At my most current job I told the recruiter right up front what my requirements were and told her I didn't want to fly out for an in-person interview unless we agreed on ballpark numbers. She came back with an acceptable number (which I accepted when I later saw it on the offer letter) and nobody's time was wasted. I also won't be job hopping for a tiny pay bump any time soon. Win/win.

This is exactly the right answer - if multiple rounds of deflection fail to work then you should state, "I expect a competitive offer to be $X".

This is exactly why we are launching the Offer Drive:

http://offerletter.io/drive.html . In short - submit your offer and equity information, get back access to a statistical pool showing where you stand.

A few notes on this subject from my perspective as the founder of http://OfferLetter.io (we provide negotiation advice and career matchmaking to developers and other techies).

Companies also oftentimes just don't know what someone is worth, and don't want to publicly publish numbers that are too high or low for fear miscalibrating expectations w.r.t. large swaths of potential candidates.

0) If a company tries to play the, "What do you make?" game, it's important to deflect, deflect, deflect and if they insist, simply state, "I expect a competitive offer to be on the order of $X"

1) Market rates are complicated. As I've written about before, the outcomes that people can see because of outsize startup exit scenarios means that their market rate can be very very high. Google doesn't publish this kind of info because they can and will match even crazy startup exit numbers, but don't broadcast this for fear of screwing up expectations.

2) At the end of the day it is contingent on the individual to define their own basis and see what places are willing to offer what compensation, and how much they are willing to budge. This is how markets work.

3) On a related note, oftentimes, companies will try and prohibit discussion of compensation by saying it's confidential, or a trade secret. Confidentiality and wage secrecy requirements in the workplace are illegal under California law. The exact statue is here: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection... As we have seen repeatedly, these kinds of requirements tend to disproportionately harm people from many kinds of non-privileged backgrounds.

And, under national labor legislation, companies cannot prohibit discussion within the workplace.


Good call on that. Resentment is the #1 factor in practically everything in internal people dynamics. Poor managers and founders just don't realize it yet.

This tends to be less bad in major cities than in small towns though. Young people, get out of the small town you're living in.

I spent quite a bunch of time on interviews with employers who promised to pay above market salary to end up with an offer 30% less than i am making.

Put another way - salary is big item in job description for me - amount employer ready to pay too often correlates with problems/technologies/colleagues/innovations i am going to work with.

So naturally first question I always ask recruiter - how much. And naturally most of them shy away from answering it straight.

As a result I created job form[1] and, unless it is someone's recommendation, or i had previous relationships with recruiter, I send all of them to this form to fill it first.

[1] https://e.l1t3.com/pavelkaroukin

Do you get a lot of responses?

zero :) granted, sent there typical spammy "job opportunity" recruiters and responded in usual way to someone who really spent some time on reading my resume :)

This one bugs me

"Recruiter: “Why don’t you tell me how much you think you’re worth?”"

Well... what I'm worth to a company depends a whole hell of a lot on how good they are operationally. Company A may be able to extract $500k of value per year from my skills. Company B may only be able to extract $80k of value from my skills. What am I "worth"? It's largely dependent on the environment I'm operating in, and how good they are at organizing everyone's skills to produce/extract value.

> "Recruiter: “Why don’t you tell me how much you think you’re worth?”"

My response: You're the recruiter. You should know more about this company, the industry in general, the industry in this city, current skills, etc than me. It's your job to know what I'm worth.

If your company is public, you can take a crack at that one using public data.

    My current company's Operating income (EBIT): $X
    My current company's Labor cost: $Y
    Number of employees: Z
So, on average employees at my company are worth ($X+$Y)/Z. Then you start adjusting. I'm a knowledge worker, so my contribution towards EBIT is greater than average (say, by 20%), etc. You can probably come up with an objective measure of your "worth" that is far more than you are making. That's what you start the negotiation with.

This is a very interesting comment. I've never thought of it that way, but you could argue - for big corporations at least, where they are sufficiently mature - that lower pay expectations on their side signals structural problems. Raising that point on the negotiation might even be useful, as you move from "what can I prove /how much can I convince them that I am worth?", where all the burden is on me, to a more equitable position where they need to put guesstimates on the table.

Hell, I'll answer that question any day. No problem. And if they don't like my answer I'll find someone who does. The fact that what I'm actually worth to them depends on their operational efficiency is Not My Problem.

Patio11's famous advice article includes this great point and others, IIRC

At some point in one's career of working for other people, it will dawn on most people. Came a bit faster for me when I've been working for myself.

'Hourly billing' is a perennial issue - people want to compare hourly rates on stuff, and yet I'm typically able to get stuff done far far far faster than many others (perhaps not the average HN reader, but def compared to many people I know).

"What are you worth?" is, likely, only something that can be readily answered by those in the sales arm of an organization, as it's most readily tracked and accounted for in those terms.

I would argue that in London it's the fact that talking about salaries is considered rather taboo in tech that perpetuates non-disclosure. I wrote a post about it a while ago: http://blog.zonino.co.uk/on-salaries-in-london-startups/

It's still common practice in the US not to discuss salaries. Which is total BS because transparency on salary can only benefit the workers; the "taboo" nature of the discussion is perpetuated by big companies who try to discourage collective bargaining (btw, forbidding employees from discussing salaries with their co-workers is illegal in the US - despite what your employment contract may say).

I couldn't agree more. If we want more transparency from employers we (as engineers) should start with being transparent with each other. I had no idea that legislation existed in the US - that's really interesting!

It is not industry-specific, but rather culture specific. Your wife will chase you if she figures out the neighbour earns more than you. :)

My experience is it doesn't matter what you post in the job description - you still have to wade through applications.

As for the article, I think the author lists a lot of real concerns that exist at companies - and then sort of dismisses them as if they are invalid because they aren't ideal. I'm sorry - but companies aren't ideal.

Let's also look at the function of job postings - from my point of view, the goal is to get as many candidates into the pipeline as possible and then get them qualified. I want to minimize the number of filters whenever possible.

Finally, he doesn't provide a lot of benefit from doing these actions aside from perhaps not having to wade through a lot of resumes - but as I mentioned above, I don't think that turns out to be the case.

>> it doesn't matter what you post in the job description - you still have to wade through applications.

One of the points in the post is that not posting salary information is also a filter. Some would argue that the absence of even a salary range filters out the top end of candidates, leaving you with a pipeline of mediocrity.

That's a fair point - for myself applying for jobs (vs. being the hirer), I more often did not apply for jobs based on stated salary range. Anecdotal at best, of course.

Every job spam email I get that has the salary listed gets my respect, and I immediately forward it to my friends and ex-coworkers (if the role fits).

To the interesting job spam I usually reply with the question of the salary range, and 95% of the time there's no reply back.

>To the interesting job spam I usually reply with the question of the salary range, and 95% of the time there's no reply back.

have you tried giving them a call and verbally stating that you find it interesting, state why you're a match, but say that you don't want to apply if it's outside your range. then ask if (number) is within what they would consider? since you've pre-qualified yourself they must answer, and will be looking forward to your application if you match.

And then there's the unspeakables that companies wouldn't tell someone like Jobbox: withholding salaries allows suppresses talk about it and makes it borderline-taboo to talk about in the workplace.

This is the status quo for many American companies unfortunately. It's an unfortunate consequence of dealing with a highly individualistic society. You as a person are an asset and you always have to be selling yourself. Your previous salary is seen as leverage when it comes to finding a new job. Once you find one, you'll most likely find that salary discussion is a very sore thumb with everyone in the workplace. I see it as competitive collaboration that's gone cancerous.

But I see almost nothing written in this whole thread from the perspective of the person who is making more than their coworkers (or believes that to be the case). I don't want to discuss salaries! In fact, one time earlier in my career I was in a group of coworkers who all went around and said their salaries, and mine was 2x all of them, so I kept quiet.

My point is just that I don't think it only benefits the employers.

Did you keep quiet because you believed you were being paid unfairly or because you believed THEY were being paid unfairly?

If you thought they were underpaid, you were kind of doing them a disservice by keeping quiet. Knowledge of a pay disparity within a group of similar employees tends to help the negotiating power of those who are making less, but does not tend to hurt those who are making more.

I guess you won't be a fan of this, but I don't really care if I did them a disservice. I hate that engineers do themselves a disservice by not getting the money they can get. Though if it's any consolation, I have started talking to my current coworkers who I know are good and who are not happy with the pay they currently make. I encourage them to get what they can get - but I still don't tell them what I make.

About being paid unfairly - I don't think I agree with this as a basic concept, at least in the context of software development. They were getting paid what they agreed to when they signed on the dotted line.

How do they know they've done themselves a disservice, though?

And I disagree with your assertion that signing on the dotted line instantly makes everything fair. For one, employers have far more data on what they're paying for the position already than any candidate. If both sides don't have the same information, it is not possible for any agreement to be fair.

I'm not the GP, but I've helped others by sending them market rate stats etc, and talked about negotiations generally (e.g: ALWAYS negotiate an offer).

Jealousy is real, it will impact your day to day relationships with people.

I'm very curious what your take is on revealing your current salary to recruiters/potential employers early.

Do you tell them early to avoid wasting your time?

For myself I'll just say that I've done well since I realized that I should negotiate for EVERY offer I'm given no matter how high. There are no more exploding offers after you've had a couple jobs - we're not in kindergarten and our parents aren't going to take things away because we're acting selfishly.

My understanding of 'competitive' salaries are that the employer doesn't know what range they should be offering. The quickest method of resolving that is to phone them up and go, "You've specified a competitive salary range, I'm looking for a salary of £X for that position, if you feel that's sensible then I'll forward my CV", at which point my CV is then updated to reflect the amount I just specified.

If I'm applying for a job it's because what's there sounds interesting, if the salary backs it up then brilliant. If the salary is poor then maybe I didn't want to work there after all and that's very much their loss.

I like it when they say the salary is £competitive. Presumably that's in base36, in which case they've got loads of money.

I wonder what happens if test-engineer Bob finds out that there is a new job-opening for a test-engineer in his company, with a salary that is significantly higher than his own current salary.

He does what I did in the same situation, spend 5 minutes finding a new job before turning in his 2 week notice.

I don't do the "lets re-negotiate my salary" bit, it's up to my employer to keep me at or above market rate for my skills, I shouldn't have to ask for it.

Ok, with the strategy of employers to be reluctant with publishing salary info, how do you currently determine your market rate?

And given the fact that this market rate is not a clearly defined value (also thanks to employers' reluctance), don't you think it is necessary to at least negotiate with your current employer if you believe you're being paid below par?

The last time this happened to me (in 2011) I was with one of the big consulting firms and the guy in charge of recruiting put up notices everywhere with a job listing for my current position except with a 5-10% higher salary.

That being said, if I wasn't privy to this information it wouldn't take much to find out what the other people on my team are making. I don't think I've ever worked in an environment where salaries were considered top secret information.

Then, with any luck, he'll leave the company that's apparently underpaying him for one that will value his services more. That's a good outcome for Bob.

Compare with "What happens if engineer Bob finds out that his company has finally conceded to the current market rates, if only for new hires, but expects to continue under-paying their established employees?"

Companies like that tend to complain about how it's so hard to keep staff!

He asks for his salary to be re-aligned with industry standards and in many cases they will oblige.

In most cases, businesses are reasonable. They aren't going to volunteer to pay you more out of the goodness of their heart, but (most) of the time it doesn't hurt to ask. Just don't go threatening to leave if they don't.

If your company doesn't appreciate enough to pay you market rate unless you explicitly ask for it, you're better off finding a different employer.

I've never, in 15+ years of employment, ever seen a company that will increase your salary simply to square you with market rate. It's always "here's your cost-of-living" increase (which is based on your current salary). Or, "You're doing a good job, here's a raise" (which has nothing to do with market rate). They will, however decrease your salary as market rate goes down.

I've never seen it happen, either, which is why I tend to jump ship every 12-24 months.

I really don't understand why companies are so nonchalant about employee retention.

You don't threaten to leave. You leave.

Yeah, I would say to be prepared to be let go or tender your resignation if you can't reach an agreement with your employer.

Sticking around for the original salary after renegotiating tells them either that you didn't care that much to begin with, or that you'll be taking a lot of calls and personal days in the next couple of months.

I'm not too concerned with companies not listing salaries because I think a job posting isn't actually a posting for a job. It's really just a way to let me know that a company has certain needs. They may fill that position with a senior developer, or a junior developer. Quite often there is currently one person wearing many hats who needs to hand off responsibilities in one area.

However I've found I get the best results by stating my salary requirements up front.

In India, We have launched a site to promote salary transparency!

KitnaDetiHai.in (coincidentally means the same as show me the money in Hindi)

The site has gone viral in top bschools in India.

The idea was born out of the thought, just for a simple mobile purchase or for a meal, we compare prices and reviews to get the best deal. Whereas for one year of blood and sweat, when HR says this is the best in the industry they are no accurate sites to refer to ask for a fairer deal.

How do I trust the HR words, when one of her prime KPI is also how much money she could save for the company while rolling an offer out.

I would be happy to hear feedback from you folks!

p.s. In Glassdoor I can post as CEO of Apple, there is no authentication and why the data is so inaccurate, whereas in KitnaDetiHai after initial search its a compulsory LinkedIn Login to search more and even after that Machine Learning Algorithm's are used to identify outliers. If found so the user's access is removed and he cannot be a part of community at all.

Another Incentive here for users to enter right salaries is, we will suggest jobs which 1. Match hiked up no's from current salary. 2. Also fairly matching skills of the job against skills listed/endorsed on LinkedIn.

I'm sure these reasons happen, however, the most common reason recruiters don't talk salary to me seems to be that they know it is below market, and want time to sell all the other benefits. I treat it as a warning sign of a very low salary.

It also often wastes everyone's time. After going through multiple rounds of communication, the salary is finally revealed: often way too low, even after hearing about the benefits.

Other recruiters will talk salary early, and those jobs are usually the ones that pay well.

I don't waste time (mine and theirs) talking to recruiters who don't share salary information (expectations or ranges). There's a major tech company that needed my expertise (systems performance), for whom I never got past the recruiters because they wouldn't talk salary. (After several months, I don't think they ever filled that role.)

This all doesn't matter much to me now, as I'm at Netflix and very happy. Netflix does talk salary expectations.

I think a big reason people get into poker is Expectation of negotiation.

If employee talks first, the number can only go down.

If the employer talks first, the number can only go up.

It's unfortunately wide spread. I wish we lived in a world where people saw a fair offer and accepted it without automatically asking for more (employee) less (employer). If something's not fair then fine negotiate, but I think people negotiate even if an offer is fair to "win" or "its expected" or "everyone else would". So employers come in below budget and employees are hesitant to give salary numbers.

Heres a good post on it:


Vinnyroe's anecdote at the end of his answer is EXACTLY why people negotiate what's a fair offer is almost completely (within 10's of thousands of dollars) SUBJECTIVE. I've had places where if I had mentioned a number first I'd have lost more than $10k off my salary. Honestly many times I do accept the salary offered because it was above the range I was expecting (although nowadays I'm better calibrated to my area... Well, I hope so).

If there was an objective way to determine then people and companies would be much happier not negotiating for the most part.

The solution in that case is simple: as an employee, you come in with what you regard as a fair level, and then you don't negotiate and just state that you think it's a fair offer and they can take it or leave it.

This does away with all the upside where you could have achieved something higher, but the only other downside is if you run into an employer whose policy requires their staff to get an initial number from a candidate and then agree on a reduced level, and you know what to tell them when you discover that is the kind of employer they are.

So I am in the early stages of starting a consulting business. Currently this business is just me, myself and I, but at some point I want to bring in and mentor junior people. I've kicked around a few ideas around salary and one of them is to tell them what I want to pay them first thing, up front. Hey, this job pays X dollars. If we move past that, then I will work to see if there is a skill/personal fit. This is as yet unproven, but my thought is you can set expectations, get the haggling out of the way first and then try to end up on a positive note instead of trying to play nice and then play the salary game.

It's a little easier to do this in professional services -- you know pretty much what you can bill that person out for, so you know what you can pay them. Employee pay has a pretty direct contribution to margins (and to revenue). This is not the case in most industries - adding an employee does not add a predictable amount of revenue in most cases.

I work in the games industry in the UK and if there is any greater secret than the games we work on, it's definitely our salaries. NO ONE will even mention how much they make, and that's because the industry pays much worse than anything else. I was even openly told in the interview that yeah, they know that this position pays 10k(GBP) less than a similar position anywhere else,but it's the games industry so that's what is it. And that's with one of the largest games studios in the world. If I didn't love what I do, I would have left ages ago.

To be fair, isn't the games industry one of those industries where lower salary is one of the tradeoffs for a "fun" job? I mean so many young coders want to go into the games industry to make games and do what their passionate about. The majority of them realize that being underpaid and overworked isn't their cup of tea, and that they are more likely to be working on the next Super Street Sweeper instead of Halo, but those that remain tough it out because it's their dream/ambition in life and they hope that they can put their name and effort behind a big game. The supply for games people outstripes the demand by far, so they can pay lower rates.

Everything you said is true, and that's exactly why I am here. I get to work on one of the biggest games of 2015, but the financial hit I am taking for having a "fun" job is huge. And the demand/supply is a problem,but I think it's overplayed. Like I've said, I work for one of the largest studios in the country, so there is a thousand people applying for every junior position we have, but we have some intermediate/senior positions which we can't fill for at least 5-10 months now.

The problem with senior positions being that older people have usually seen better and saner than you can offer, so your recruit pool is limited to within-industry pouching?

So logically.....if there is less supply for the senior positions and there is a problem filling them, why isn't pay increased for these positions?

Because like every other company on Earth they don't want to pay more?

Generally if you can't fill a position, it's because you're not offering enough.

Like the point of view. I find that many companies really neglect corporate culture and feeling of belonging when it's decisive for productivity. The salary example shows this well as instead of cooperating, it's already about "confrontation, strategy and often times disappointment at a very early stage with your employer. Probably why I've always had it hard with Corporate culture. Work has to be passionating, whatever the reason.

The salary isn't a predefined amount that is a secret. It's usually a broad range, negotiable to skills and experience. Usually jobseekers have an idea if their market value and can and do name the salary they re looking for. Often there's some movement up or down to get a final deal in place.

So the entire premise that there is a defined salary and it's being kept secret is flat out wrong.

Totally disagree with the final conclusion. In a market where people (specially technical people) are in need and advertising inviting people to living on to the edge, makes Jr. Developers, Jr. Designers, Jr. Business person, think that they are more Senior than Junior. So trust me, they will apply cause they have nothing to loose.

I don't agree with the assertion that listing filters out candidates on the low end. I think many dillusuonal, overly ambitious, and financially desperate under qualified candidates apply hard for salaries way above their last/current salary.

Correct. There is pretty much no incentive not to try to punch above your weight class. If it was common for employers to list salaries on their job boards, I'd spend an hour each day applying for every job that pays more than I make now. There's literally no down side.

Opportunity cost and the potential of leaving a good company for a potentially toxic work environment are two bad outcomes that I can think of off the top of my head.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try to better your position, but saying that there isn't a possibility of a downside is not fair.

It could backfire - if I saw a salary stated on a job ad, I would consider it firm. So it it was too low I wouldn't even consider applying, when perhaps they would have been willing to work something out with me if I did.

The figure need not be set in stone. If they find nobody responds, they can keep upping the price until they get what they are looking for. If they do find someone happy to work for them at that lower level, then everyone wins.

As a farmer, this is pretty much how we sell our crops in most cases. The buyer posts how much he is willing to pay, and if I like what I see, I make the deal. If I don't, I wait and hope the price goes up to something that matches my expectations. Sometimes someone else will sell for less and that never happens.

Usually they're not. Either because they don't have the budget, or "We just don't do that here".



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Guys, there are countries where the candidate is expected to state their salary and not the company. The thinking is that the candidate is the seller (i.e. receives cash) and the company is the buyer (i.e. pays cash)!! We can use an ISO99-standard car analogy here for their thinking:

Think of the candidate as the salesman of a car (themselves), and the employer as the buyer of the car, who wants to use it for something.

Then this actually makes perfect sense. Doesn't the seller usually list their price rather than the buyer? (who keeps their range a secret, or even has a much wider range as they have a choice of cars.)

It would be like walking into an auto showroom and the seller (get your mind around this: in the analogy the job candidate is the car/salesperson, but selling themselves rather than a car) asking the shopper to state how much the shopper is willing to pay (shopper = employer in this case, since employer is the one paying, and has a choice of 'cars'). Or at least state a range. Shopper (=employer) don't have to do it - you can ask what the cars are going for first.

Who is at more fault: if a car salesperson refuses to tell you what the cars are going for (job candidate doesn't say how much he or she will work for) or if a buyer refuses to tell you what they have budgeted (the shopper doesn't say how much they're willing to pay, and just wants to see some cars.)

Like all ISO99 car analogies, it's quite a good one, in this case because in fact the buyer and seller both do have a range, i.e. the buyer can consider different prices, and the seller can often be flexible within a single car.

Also there is another reason not to list salary ranges: absurdity. We can conceive of a buyer of a car, given certain circumstances such as a new well-paid job they must drive to or near, but being broke after a period of unemployment, considering everything from $500 to $50,000. It's conceivable, depending on the terms involved, for this particular purchase ("hire"). But that is a range of two orders of magnitude.

Sound absurd? A one-person startup might hire someone from an intern salary all the way through six figures, even doing similar things (if not much has been built), depending on age, experience, whether any of the salary can be deferred, who they can find, etc..

You don't need much imagination to realize that a cofounder salary range is: $0-$100K salary, 0%-50% equity.

With a little imagination, that range actually widens considerably, but I don't want to make your brains explode. (With negative salaries or much higher than 50% effective equity, etc.)

It's all on the table.

If you don't want to interview for positions outside of your salary range, here's a thought: 1) call up whoever posted the advertisement and tell them you don't want to apply if it's far outside of your salary range. tell them what it is - you don't even have to identity yourself. if it's outside their range they'll tell you. 2) (I don't really recommend this.) Send your CV (your car or house brochure) with a price range.

It's somewhat rude, sure, but I guarantee it's better than not letting 100 employers see your resume/CV at all, because you've filtered them out based on a lack of listed salary and refuse to take even 5 seconds to drop an email with an attachment.

The line "Expected salary: ___" is guaranteed to filter out anyone whose budget is less. On the other hand, you might filter out people whose budgets are more or people who consider this very rude, and forward.

That only works if you are selling a standardized service. In reality, your work product is very much a function of the environment you work in.

yes, you're right, especially in America, corporate jobs are standardized, and it's more common for the employer to have a standard set salary offered.

I was just describing the point of view common in some other countries, in which case the employee is expected to come up with their requirement and state it. Neither one is correct or incorrect. (And both have real-world analogies - for example, auctions, which can also be an analogy for the job market in that there's only 1 of specifically you, where bidders have to offer an amount rather than the seller saying how much something costs.)

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