Career Advice for Job Seekers

Why don’t employers disclose the salary range in their job posting ads?

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
March 8, 2022

If I had a dollar (even a Canadian dollar, which is worth about U.S. $0.75) for every time that I’ve recommended to an employer that they disclose in their job posting ads the salary range that they expect to pay then I’d be a very, very wealthy man. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. I’d be able to go on a nice vacation. Yeah, that’s about right.

In short, there are many reasons why many (most?) employers believe that their hiring process should lack transparency when it comes to the single most important factor to the vast majority of candidates: compensation. There are the reasons that employers will tell you, there are the reasons that I suspect are more truthful, and then there are probably other reasons that they can’t or won’t admit to and which I haven’t heard.

Employers will tell you that they don’t disclose pay range because they don’t want candidates applying to a job and expecting to be paid at the top of the range regardless of their qualifications. My response to that is they have no business being recruiters or hiring managers if they can’t or won’t articulate to a candidate that their experience is lacking in some way and that’s why they’re going to be toward the middle or even low end of the range. That shouldn’t be a difficult conversation, quite frankly. So fear of speaking the truth is an explanation but a really bad one, in my opinion.

I think that the biggest reason is that employers want to pay as little as they can. Typically, your starting wage will be the same or slightly more than what you earned at your previous job. That’s nonsense. The value you delivered to your previous employer has little to nothing to do with the value you’re going to deliver to your next employer. What this is really about is taking advantage of candidates who are not skilled at negotiating. And if that’s what the employer is trying to do then what they’re really engaging in is wage theft.

Where the discrimination comes into play is that the data shows that employers who do not disclose wage ranges in their ads tend to pay women, people of color, and other such candidates less than they pay white males…for the same work and with the same qualifications.

At College Recruiter, we also believe strongly in transparency, but there are limits to everything. Some employers, like College Recruiter, are more transparent than others. But we deliberately lack transparency in some respects, such as what each of us makes. There are a very small number of employers who are transparent to that level sometimes for legal reasons (i.e., you work for the federal government) and sometimes for other reasons (there are a few employers who publish everyone’s compensation).

We believe strongly in paying people fairly and, hopefully, a little more than they could get from another employer for similar work. We’ve sometimes lost employees whose value was far, far greater to another employer than to us. We’re bummed when that happens for the company, but we’re happy for those employees. When we find that an employee is no longer being paid fairly, we strive very hard to increase their pay to align with the value they’re delivering. We also work hard to provide Fortune 50 benefits such as medical, dental, vision, 401k, short- and long-term disability, generous holidays and now wellness days, etc.

Our benefits and taxes add about 50% to the gross wages that employees receive. I don’t think that most people realize that. An employee making $50,000 a year costs the company about $75,000 a year.

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