Comment Response: Obscuring Wage Information
A few weeks ago, we posted a blog discussing why certain companies hide salary information in job listings, instead using terms like ‘competitive.’ We got some great responses from candidates and from companies about the whole situation.
One thing the response to this blog flagged up was a pretty big divide between the opinions of employers and candidates, so we thought we’d take a look at some of the more common objections, what the rationale is behind these decisions despite what candidates might think, and when these rationales might cross the line into indicating a business you don’t want to work with.
I Wouldn’t Respond to a Listing without a Salary…
Rationale: There are a myriad of reasons why someone wouldn’t respond to a job listing with no salary (we’ll get into some of the specifics later), but it’s a fact we observed in the original article that obscuring salary information absolutely results in fewer applications
A company choosing to obscure salary information is definitely aware of this fact.
It’s a weighing up of costs and benefits. Larger companies in particular can often get a huge number of applications for a particular role, so they can afford to put people off by not posting information. In some ways, this is a direct benefit for them, there will be fewer CVs to trawl through, and they have more pipelines ready to go to fill in the gaps.
If they don’t know the salary, do they know what they’re hiring for?
Rationale: Job listings are often seen by candidates as hard lines in the sand when it comes to positions, and in a lot of cases they are. But not always. A lot of the time, they’re more like guidelines for the hiring managers.
One company may ask for ‘three years minimum industry experience’ for a role, but what happens when a really recent graduate hands in a great portfolio and seems like a natural fit for your company? You don’t want to reject them out of hand, but equally you can’t really justify paying them the same amount as was planned for the person with industry experience. Obscuring wage information allows for opportunities like this.
Especially in smaller companies, hiring managers tend to be much more flexible in regards to what they’re looking for. What may initially be planned as a junior role could become senior if the right candidate comes along, and vice versa. Maybe a specific candidate has more relevant industry experience, even if they lack traditional signs of seniority.
The logic, therefore, is that a candidate has the best possible knowledge of their abilities, and should have an understanding of what level they should be working at.
If a company isn’t providing any information at all, that is a problem. You should never be afraid to ask questions about location, base requirements and yes, salary, and the company should have all that information to hand. If they don’t, then you know concretely that’s not a company you want to work for.
A defined range is better for negotiation!
Rationale: We agree on this one! Having a clearly set out range for salaries is a really good compromise between giving the candidate information, and keeping things flexible for the company. It also helps reduce wage gaps at your business, since everyone has a range to work from instead of spit-balling in the dark.
However, it does still have a pretty defined top and bottom, which for companies aiming for a more flexible hiring approach as mentioned above, isn’t ideal.
It’d make me think that the company wants to pay as little as possible!
Rationale: Obviously, a for profit business wants to save money on wages, but the majority also want to attract good talent, and they know that decent wages for the area are part of that.
Remember, an undefined salary is also a boon for you in terms of negotiation. The uncertainty isn’t great, especially if you’re looking for a job when you don’t already have one, but when you’ve got negotiating power because you don’t desperately need the role, it gives you some upwards momentum.
A company that hides salaries is theoretically communicating that they’re open to salary offers and negotiation, and if you shine in interviews, they’ll want to keep you interested. If it turns out they’re not, they probably aren’t worth continuing down the hiring path with anyway.
Companies are also getting more and more conscious of their Employer Brand and they want to minimise the number of candidates that go through the whole process only to find that they wouldn’t be able to cover . A candidate rejecting an employer due to low wages that were hidden is a very bad look for said employer, one they want to avoid at all costs.
If this happens to you, don’t be afraid to draw attention to it, through places like Glassdoor, or by alerting your agency to the problem.
What do you make of all this? There is usually a logical rationale for every hiring choice a company makes. Different approaches work for different companies, and what is OK for one candidate, may be the final straw that stops another from applying to a specific job.