In a perfect world, job postings would follow a universal format, almost like your high school term paper. Start each with a lovely, bulleted list answering who, what, where, when, why, and how much, then conclude in a tidy exposition of duties, requirements, and other details.
Washington State took a step forward this year with the pay transparency law. (Lucky for us here in the PNW!) Employers are now required to post the salary range and a general overview of benefits and additional compensation in job postings. But, unfortunately, this isn't universal across the country.
With a lack of universal structure and requirements differing by state, candidates find themselves squinting and a taking lot of time deciphering HR jargon. Salary info can be the hardest to find, which seems silly, but there are reasons for that.
Not great ones, mind you, but here are two biggies.
The Obvious Argument...Competition
Company X pays $15 an hour so Company Y can lure hopefuls away by offering $16. As a coach, I will tell you there is a lot more that goes into that decision, but this is an argument I hear from organizations fearful to lose top talent.
The other side to this coin is the fear that existing employees may get mad—or quit!—when they see new hires being offered more for the same level of work. Again, lots to unpack on this one too. But the important thing to know is that it's crucial for future employers to be open to salary discussions. We all have bills to pay and it's important to not waste either party's time when the salary just won't cut it.
The Less Obvious Argument...Mindset
Organizations want to interview people who are passionate about the role they are hiring for. Many rationalize that by not posting a salary they will get higher-quality candidates. Applicants will be driven to apply because the role is something they love. They will want to interview for that particular role and not just for a paycheck. Again, a lot to unpack with this argument as well, but at the end of the day an interview is a 50/50 agreement. You deserve to have a job that excites you and pays your bills!
So What Can You Do If No Salary Is Posted?
Often some savvy online research will at least get you the ballpark of what they’re currently paying. There are websites that compile not just numbers but geographic comparisons and hierarchy breakdowns. A few of my favorites are Glassdoor, Fairy God Boss, and Salary.com.
Be upfront about what you need to go further in the process. No one benefits from wasted days of interviews and reams of paperwork when they’d only offer a fraction of what you’d earn elsewhere. And remember, anything is negotiable! Pay, benefits, workplace flexibility…it’s all on the table.
Contact The Company
Companies should have salary bands decided well before they ever post to hire. Now I have to also be realistic and accept that some companies don't. They use the interview process as a way to test out what candidates expect. I am firmly against this practice as it is a bad business practice from a financial perspective, sets candidates up for a poor experience, and shows the lack of vision happening on the inside of the organization.
The point is companies should have a salary range established. This means you should be able to reach out to the recruiting or HR team at the company to confirm the salary prior to applying if you are unsure.
For many of us, talking money isn’t easy. But there are positive trends in recent news. NPR agrees that “Few topics are as emotionally charged as salary. It is, after all, the most concrete expression of how much our workplace and company values us and our work. And things can get messy.”
“Especially messy,” they continue, “since salary and pay have, statistically speaking, major inequities in them. The much-studied gender pay gap is going strong, with women making just over 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, Black women earning roughly 65 cents and Latina and Indigenous American women making roughly 55 cents compared to men. Those numbers have barely budged in the last decade. LGBTQ workers and other marginalized workers get paid less as well, with trans people earning roughly a third less than their cisgender counterparts.” There is a lot of work to be done in and around salaries.
But remember, whether you’re dipping a toe in the water or about to dive headfirst into the job pool, remember that it’s always ok to ask about pay.
(Sorry about the rhyme but it’ll help you remember!)
Know what you need and never be afraid to ask questions along the way. And if you need assistance on this topic or any other career-related subjects, I'm here to help!
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