should recruiters tell you up-front what a job pays?

A reader writes:

How common is it for recruiters to disclose salary range for positions when they reach out to you? I’ve heard colleagues who have professions that are highly technical and in demand talk about how recruiters have disclosed salary ranges to them for the openings they are recruiting for. This has helped my colleagues ask for more money. One even told his boss, “I have recruiters on LinkedIn offering me $XX more.” This helped him get a substantial raise last year. I, however, haven’t had much luck, and while my professions isn’t as highly in demand as theirs, it’s still pretty hot. I always hear the typical “it depends on experience or we’re focused on finding the ideal candidate,” etc.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My boss doesn’t want to let me quit
  • Can I direct employers to my LinkedIn recommendations in lieu of references?
  • Getting an employee to sign paperwork when she’s always too busy
  • I was invited to interview — but they hired someone else before I had the chance to come in

{ 141 comments… read them below }

  1. The Grammarian*

    Recruiters generally have told me the salary range for the positions during their initial phone calls to me.

    1. The Grammarian*

      I should also specify the type of role. These are recruiters for technical writer or documentation specialist roles.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Same, although occasionally as I’ve gotten deeper they’ve been way off; I turned down a temp job after it turned out they really only wanted to pay $10/hr less than I’d originally been quoted.

  2. Kathleen_A*

    Re. letter #5, I’m trying to understand what would be “kind of demeaning” about hearing that the person hired instead me is an “exceptionally qualified candidate.” It isn’t saying anything negative about the recipient of the letter, so…I don’t think I get it.

    1. Arctic*

      I think the implication is the LW hears “unlike you” at the end of that sentence. Which is not fair.

      1. hbc*

        Well, it’s true that the OP apparently isn’t also “exceptional” as far as this role is concerned, but yeah, I don’t feel it’s insulting. That’s what “exception” means–this is a rare thing that goes beyond the expectations of a good candidate.

        Drop the exceptional, and it’s a heck of a lot more insulting, that’s for sure.

        1. Close Bracket*

          “Well, it’s true that the OP apparently isn’t also “exceptional” as far as this role is concerned”

          You don’t know that. OP doesn’t know that, and the employer doesn’t know that, either. All anyone knows is they interviewed someone, made an offer, and had it accepted. There is no implied judgement on the people they didn’t interview.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            Exactly. At this point, the employer doesn’t know if the OP is exceptional, mediocre or just awful. All they know is that they have one candidate who they believe is exceptional, and so they aren’t going to consider anyone else right now. The statement says things about the person they hired, and perhaps (indirectly) the company, but it says nothing about the OP at all.

    2. Faith*

      If someone told me that they went with an “exceptionally qualified candidate”, I would take it to mean that they interviewed someone who blew their socks off with their awesomeness, and they are not willing to risk this person accepting a job somewhere else just to interview a couple more candidates hoping to find someone better than that. There is nothing personal about it. I may be an even better qualified candidate, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so that reasoning makes sense to me.

      1. SezU*

        I hear you…. but as a hiring manager I probably would have met with all the candidates, just in case. But I totally get the bird in the hand thing. Some people get multiple offers because they are superstars.

        1. goducks*

          Just in case, what? If you only have one opening, you only need one good candidate, and if you meet one that is an absolute superstar, why wouldn’t you move forward immediately, especially in a time of record low unemployment when hiring is so difficult? If the person declines, you can still meet with your other candidates, but I certainly wouldn’t waste anybody’s time when I have an absolutely perfect candidate identified. A solid, but not mind-blowing one? Sure. But not a superstar. I’m going to lock that candidate down as quickly as I possibly can because if I see how awesome that person is, others are about to see it too, and any delay may mean losing that candidate.

        2. RandomPoster*

          I’m guessing they cancelled the OPs interview when the other had been accepted by the other candidate, not when they just extended them an offer.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            Yes, they probably started scheduling interviews, including the OP’s, interviewed the superstar candidate before the OP’s interview, made the offer to the superstar candidate but didn’t cancel the later interviews until after the superstar accepted.

            Re. SezU’s point, I supervise projects rather than people these days, but back when I did hire and supervise people, I too would have felt obligated to interview everyone who seemed qualified. That’s in fact exactly what I did. But it was very tiring, and ineffective, too, so I now think that was wrong. Even glossing over any unpleasantness to *me*, I don’t think I did the candidates any favors. Why put somebody through all the trouble and stress of an interview when, realistically, they weren’t going to get the job? I’m extremely grateful that I don’t have hiring authority any more, but if I ever (unwillingly) acquire it again, I hope I don’t make that same mistake.

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              Agreed, Kathleen. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from family and friends, when they don’t get an interview is, ‘They should interview everyone who’s qualified and THEN make a decision.’ Well, no, that’s now how interviewing and hiring work. Even the OFCCP doesn’t demand this of government contractors, and this governing body can be very demanding.

              1. goducks*

                LOL, back in 2008, I’d have 200+ qualified candidates for some positions. Can you imagine if I had to interview all of them?

                I typically selected a number of qualified resumes to even consider (say 15), and then stopped reading resumes. If for some odd reason that pool didn’t yield a hire, I’d take another dive into the pool for another sampling.

                It was the polar opposite of hiring today where I can have a position posted for weeks with 10 applications and none of them really very interesting at all.

                1. TPS Cover Sheet*

                  Lol, back in 1990’s recession you couldn’t put a job advert out without getting 1000+ applications. Even big companies hired ”through the kitchen door”. Getting a job or having one meant you had a lot of ”friends”… then when the IT bubble started up you would get hired if you ever saw a computer in a shop window…

      2. PollyQ*

        Exactly. Hiring someone is not like shopping for a consumer good, where you can just go back to the first store if there’s nothing as good at the second. The risk that your “exceptionally qualified candidate” is going to be snapped up by someone else who recognizes their worth is significant.

        1. goducks*

          For some reason people get this idea that hiring is like shopping for a car, rather than being like dating.
          When you shop, it is wise to get multiple bids, to explore multiple models, and to ultimately get the best deal. When you’re dating, if you meet the person who makes your heart flutter and gives you all the feels, you don’t keep checking out who else is out there, you enter a relationship.
          I don’t know how many times I’ve heard hiring managers tell me, “well I really liked Susan, and she’d be perfect in that role, but she’s the only really qualified candidate I met”. I’m always mystified. If your goal to get a great hire, or to have a whole bunch to select from? Because at the end of the day, there’s only one opening. If you meet Ms. Right the first day you’re interviewing, why do you need to keep collecting resumes? Do you want the job filled or not.
          (obviously doesn’t apply when candidates are just so/so).

    3. Kathleen_A*

      Great points, all.

      It does make me wonder what the OP would have preferred hearing – I mean, what would it take for “We’ve hired someone else instead of you” to be non-demeaning? Aside from, I don’t know, “We understand you were just crowned Queen of SmallButWealthyCountry, with all the rights, privileges and income that implies, so we decided we’d better go with our second choice.”

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        There isn’t really a good way to schedule anything and then cancel immediately before without negatively impacting the other person.

        Also, the company is implicitly saying that the other candidate is so good that OP5 couldn’t possibly be that good, and they know this without interviewing her. Which may be a correct business decision. But there’s no way to deliver that message without coming off as demeaning. It’s kinda like asking how to tell someone you ran over their dog and have them be OK with it.

        1. goducks*

          So, better to interview the LW for a position that they’re not going to hire her for? What a colossal waste of everyone’s time. And how disrespectful to the LW.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            No. I’m not saying that at all. I’m merely saying that there is no good way to tell OP5 that. It’s a business decision to decide to hire a candidate before the process is complete with all candidates. It may be the right call; it may be the wrong call. But it does negatively impact OP5 and there’s no way to tell her that that’s going to take away the sting.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              Yes, of course it negatively impacts the OP, and she has every reason to feel disappointed. I don’t think anybody is disputing that.

              But that doesn’t make it “demeaning” in any way, shape or form. By considering it some sort of insult – and she does sound at least slightly insulted – the OP is taking her natural feelings of disappointment and turning them into a feeling that she is being disrespected. And she truly has no reason (at least no reason that she’s told us about here) to feel disrespected. The sooner she realizes this, the better she’ll feel – and she can more accurately assess the situation as well. It’s a win-win.

        2. Kathleen_A*

          You can read it that way, sure – but that’s not what they actually say. What they actually say is, “We’ve found an exceptional candidate, and we’ve hired her.” They don’t even hint at any comparison to the OP, and in fact, they can’t compare because they’ve not even met the OP. All they know about the OP is what was in her cover letter and resume.

          That’s what Alison means, I think, when she says “I know it’s tempting to analyze every word employers choose to say to you in a hiring process.” It’s possible to interpret it as some sort of insult only if you choose to interpret it that way. There is nothing demeaning or insulting in the words or the circumstances themselves. The employers found a great candidate, offered her the job, she accepted. And that’s all there is to it.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            You can read it however you want as well. I’m going beyond the words to the actions. They made the business decision that there was less risk in hiring the exceptional candidate right now than there was in waiting for the possibly that OP5 was better and possibly losing the exceptional candidate. That’s a reasonable business decision. But there is an implicit comparison there.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              I’m going by the actions as well as the words, too – but that isn’t making me see it the same way you do. If the OP had been interviewed, yes, there would be a comparison. That’s why people interview more than one person. But the OP wasn’t interviewed. So all that’s been compared – implicitly or explicitly – are resumes. Surely that should remove some of the personal element here.

    4. goducks*

      I think it goes to the thing that’s often discussed on this site, there’s no way to reject a candidate that won’t result in some candidate feeling that they were treated poorly.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Well technically true, there are also many ways to do it that are worse than others.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I don’t see anything demeaning about ‘exceptionally qualified.’ Maybe it’s a little awkward, but I don’t read it as a dig at the OP. The comment pretty much means, ‘The candidate we hired had qualities, skills, and experience we couldn’t ignore, they impressed the hiring manager and team, and s/he wanted to work with us, too.’

    6. fhqwhgads*

      I think they’re reading too much into it. They probably feel like “exceptional” is a comparison to them – which it can’t be since they didn’t actually interview. When in reality what hiring people mean is “if this person weren’t so exceptional – ie exceeded their expectations significantly – they would not have cut the process short”. Like Alison said, they’re giving a very reasonable explanation and the LW is misinterpreting it.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Let’s also consider that “exceptionally qualified” could be code for “the CEO’s nephew”.

  3. Falling Diphthong*

    OP5, it’s not like you would have enjoyed hearing “We’ve decided to hire a mediocre candidate with a pulse, and so don’t need to see you.”

    They were telling you you had no shot at this job. Unless that comes wrapped in a winning lottery ticket, it’s going to sting–there are no perfect phrases to emit here.

    1. Safetykats*

      In my experience, this kind of thing often means the job posting was wired for a specific candidate – but they had to post it anyway, and go thru the process of interviewing some minimum number of candidates. Maybe they weren’t sure they could get their preferred candidate. But yes – when you find someone who really is exceptionally well qualified for your job opening – or the candidate you specifically wanted actually applies – you don’t keep interviewing. (That just wastes your time, the candidates’ time, HR’s time…). You issue an offer, and if it doesn’t work out, you go back to interviewing.

  4. Faith*

    I can tolerate the whole dancing around the compensation thing when I am the one applying for a job, and I am specifically interested in a particular company for reasons other than just a paycheck. However, if I am not actively looking and I am happy at my current place of employment, and someone reaches out to me with a job opportunity, they should be prepared to tell me how much the job is going to pay, especially if the job involves relocation. Unless the company is well-known for some ridiculously good benefits – like fully paid health insurance, heavily subsidized childcare, etc. – I am not willing to take a base pay cut, so it simply does not make sense for us to keep talking.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      Even when I AM actively looking for jobs, there’s a certain salary range I need to achieve to do things like pay my rent. This is in general not difficult to achieve in my field, but nonetheless I’ve been to a few interviews where the person told me the salary and it was WAY below market rate — like, think 40-50% of market rate — and it wasn’t going to be enough for me to keep the bills paid, so no matter how much I loved everything else about the job and hated my current job, it was a no.

      On one occasion a company asked me to come to their office to interview, so I had to make an excuse to take a half day from my job, drive across town, and pay for parking in a part of town where parking is extremely expensive and notoriously hard to find, only to be told after 2 hours of interviews that the salaried exempt job barely paid over minimum wage. It paid less per hour than I had paid for parking. You could make more at a fast food place if you stuck around for a year or two. I was Not Happy(tm).

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Agree – I won’t go past a phone interview without knowing that the company and I are on the same page in terms of compensation. I have it pretty good at current job but am looking around due to some flexibility issues here and have been on a couple of interviews and a several phone screens and recruiter calls. Noped out of 5 positions so far mostly due to refusal to give salary range.

    3. Kat in VA*

      I can say when I was job searching that – without exception – every time a recruiter got chintzy about the salary range, it was because it was well below a decent rate, let alone the going average market rate.

      If they’re happy about what they’re paying and they think it’s a good payscale, they tell you right out of the gate. If they get cute, or want to know your current rate first (because no one should ever, ever, ever make more than, say 2% more than they’re currently making, laws no), or say, “Well, what kinda pay are YOU looking for?”…it’s because they’re embarrassed to name the number because it’s low.

      Which is stupid – who wants to go through what you went through with the half day and the parking and everything else only to be given a number that is something you wouldn’t consider on your worst day? It’s rude and it’s sketchy and I dislike this game playing about money in the extreme. Because as Alison noted, most of us, at the end of the day, are working for a dollar amount and we know what dollar amount we are willing to take – the same way the company knows what dollar amount they’re willing to give.

      So how about just quit with the games and the coyness, state it right out in the JOB LISTING so you’re not wasting your time or mine, recruiters? (Too much to ask, I know.)

  5. wb*

    When I read a job posting that is full of requirements for the candidate but says nothing about compensation/benefits, what I see is a company that wants to remind me that having the job at all should be reward enough. Or at least that wants to keep me on the back foot when it comes to negotiation.

    I get that there are industries where this is the norm, but refusing to even give a range when directly asked is pointedly disrespectful imo, not coyness. Why would I spend time demonstrating that I meet your requirements when you flatly refuse to demonstrate that you meet mine?

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I think that not discussing salary range in the initial phone screen is a mistake on both sides. We’re not going to waste everyone’s time time talking with someone we can’t afford either.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t really expect to see salary listed in the posting, but I want to hear it on the phone screen BEFORE I come in to interview.

  6. Bilateralrope*

    The only thing I’d add to #2 is that you might want to put your resignation in writing. Just to have proof of how much time you gave if you ever find yourself needing it.

    It can be as simple as pulling out our phone after she tries to refuse your resignation and sending an email saying: “As I discussed with you today, I am resigning in x weeks and my last day will be y”. Maybe CC someone else above her, especially if she tries to refuse your resignation again.

    1. kittymommy*

      This is what i was thinking as well. A simple “Mary thank you for the wonderful opportunity you have given me here but I feel I am not the best fit and am going to need to resign effective . Here is my written resignation for you records.” depending on if you think she would actually throw it out or shred it, you may also want to send a copy to HR (or whomever may be the best choice above her).

      1. Angelinha*

        Don’t put in writing that you’re not the best fit, just say you’re leaving. Thanking them for the opportunity is fine but there’s no reason to demean yourself for the record on your way out!

  7. SezU*

    #5: Not really part of the question, but for my money, I would probably go ahead and speak with the people I had scheduled, even if I found a superstar. There might be one even better!

    1. goducks*

      Or there might not, and in the time it takes to talk to the other, not superstar candidates, the superstar may accept another offer. A very real thing that happens frequently in the current economy.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        It does happen, but I wouldn’t say it happens frequently. And certainly not in a day or two.

        1. goducks*

          It does happen frequently. I cannot count the number of times in the past two years that candidates have dropped out of the process due to accepting another offer when I had spoken to them within the prior 48 hours. Now, not all those were people I’d identified as wanting to make an offer to, some fell out in the day or two between initial contact and first interview. Or between first interview and second. Some, between final interview and offer. Things are highly competitive right now. It’s a seeker’s market (at least where I’m at). You have to get a strong candidate bought-in quick. If I meet a superstar, I’m telling them the same day I plan to make an offer. I’ve found myself back at square one way too frequently in the past few years not to move quickly.

        2. Kathleen_A*

          We had two different positions open at the same time a few months ago, and it actually happened one time each for both. Once it was after a few days, but once it was within a day. So yes, it definitely happens.

  8. Elenia*

    I am always amazed at the amount of people who allow their bosses to not let them quit. I don’t doubt the stories, and I remember what it was like to be young, but I never had this experience. We live in an at-will country, and a lot of the time that works against us but it also means we aren’t tied to a company forever! This is brand new for me to hear about, and Alison gets so many questions about it!

    1. irene adler*

      The company won’t hesitate to lay off the employee, should that scenario arise. So why feel bound to a boss who tries to guilt an employee into staying?

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s very reminiscent of romantic partners who try “We aren’t broken up, because you haven’t given me a good enough reason for dumping me. Our relationship isn’t over until we mutually agree.”

      1. Elenia*

        I get it more in a relationship because there is so much emotions invested in it. At work, though – well even the best jobs are just that, a job. I am not beholden to you forever!

    3. Jamey*

      I had a boss who tried it on me! And when I stuck to my guns, he was like “well I’m going to need at least 4 weeks notice because that’s standard in this industry.” (I work in tech, it’s just not true.)

      I was still fairly young and the whole situation was awkward and made me nervous, but I had already accepted a new job with a start date in two weeks so it forced me to keep pushing back on him. If I hadn’t had a new job with a start date, I could have seen my younger self caving to demands.

    4. Blossom*

      I’m just being picky here, but I live in a country where employees have contracts, and all it means is that you’re supposed to give the notice period specified in your contract (commonly one month). It certainly doesn’t mean you’re tied to a company forever! In fact, you can leave them rather more easily than they can leave you. And tbh it’s not unknown for people to give less than the required notice period, and not suffer any huge consequences – it’s their bridge to burn.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Thank you! The totally false idea that not having US-style at-will employment makes everyone an indentured servant perpetuates acceptance of labor practices that are really crappy for employees.

      2. londonedit*

        I agree – I think for people (mainly in the US) who aren’t used to the idea of employment contracts, it can be a bit confusing. ‘Contract’ implies something binding, like you have to be there until the end of the contract. In reality, while fixed-term contracts do exist, in most cases it’s more like signing an ongoing agreement where you agree to do the work and the company agrees to pay you for it. It’s just a way of having everything set out and agreed to in writing – salary, holiday allowance, notice period, terms of employment etc etc. It protects both the employee and the employer. Most people in the UK have a one-month notice period but it’s not unheard of to negotiate an earlier exit when you resign.

        1. Blossom*

          Yes, and of course even a fixed-term contract includes a notice period. i.e. I could take a job on a 12-month contract, but then give notice and leave at any point during those 12 months if I didn’t like it. It’s just that the employer can’t ask me to leave before those 12 months are up (unless there’s reason to fire me, or the position is made redundant).

  9. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Not being willing to discuss salary range is BS. I’ve always said that salary isn’t the only thing to consider when taking a job, but if we’re not even in the same ballpark, you’re wasting both my time and yours. Yes your experience may determine what salary within the range they are willing to offer you, but at the very least, there should be a range. And I hate when they ask what salary you’re looking for first….no you tell me what you’re offering and then we’ll discuss it.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yes, especially if they are the ones interested. Hey, I’m not going to leave my job for a lower salary and worse conditions!

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I always say, “I won’t consider anything below $X” when they ask with X being my current salary+whatever I feel is reasonable. It helps cut to the chase and saves everyone time.

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      Absolutely. I’ve turned down more than one offer based on pay (one time it would have been a 25% cut, no thank you) and I would have saved everybody’s time if I had known ahead of time that the top of their range was below what I could possible accept.

    4. Massmatt*

      Many years ago I applied for a job (with no salary range posted) and got a call from their HR, we went through a prelim phone screen and I told them the range I was looking for. The HR rep said OK, that’s a doable range, and I set up an interview with the hiring manager. I schlep there and the manager asks my salary requirements. I tell her the same thing and she goes “Nope, I can’t come anywhere near that”. I try to counter with ability to be flexible for a job with opportunity to advance and it was nope nope nope. I finally said well unfortunately the person in HR wasted both our time.

      Can HR and the hiring manager at least be on the same page regarding what the position pays?

    5. Helena*

      And double that for benefits. I have yet to get a recruiter that calls me to have any information beyond “our benefits are competitive.” And they’re always baffled when I tell them that the salary I’m willing to accept depends on the percentage of health insurance premiums that the company pays and what the deductibles and out of pocket maximum are. The difference between the company paying 75% of the insurance premium and 50% of the insurance premium is usually larger than the difference between the top and bottom of the salary range. Apparently the recruiters were told there would be no math, argh.

  10. Elle Kay*

    #2: Also email her so you have it in writing. Alison’s language is perfect: “I’ve decided that I need to move on, and my last day will be in two weeks, July 30.” is totally fine but it does sound like she’s unreliable and the last thing you want is to be getting calls after that date about why you’re not showing up. Having this documented will protect *you*

    #4. Are you asking for e-signatures or physical ones? Is there a reason you can’t just stop by their office and say “Hey, I have those papers I need you to sign”? Odds are they’ll be much more likely to just sign on the spot rather than going back-and-forth some more.
    This is what I usually have to do with my boss; the process of printing, retrieving, signing and returning a document does feel like “too much” when you’re busy, but if I bring him the form he’ll sign right then.

    1. Kiki*

      At my old office, I really appreciated that HR would print out forms for us and distribute them to our desks to sign and get back to them. It seemed like getting individuals to remember to print things out from an email was a significant barrier. It’s quicker to have one person print a batch of documents at once rather than each individual printing one document anyway.

    2. shep*

      #2 – Totally agree submitting a resignation via email is the way to go in tandem with a verbal resignation. Also, this boss sounds a lot like my first boss, with one very major exception. She was nice but very hard to work with in a lot of ways, and we were an education/sales oriented team too.

      But–and I will be forever grateful for this–she was like, “You can stay here as long as you want, but you need to get out and I fully support you doing so.” Per the dynamics of the workplace, I knew she wasn’t trying to push me out because she was absolutely right. I openly job searched (on my own time, but she knew I wanted to leave) and she gave me glowing references while I was actively working with her at the company.

      But I could very easily have seen myself being swayed by her had she said something manipulative like, “You can’t leave–you’re like my little sister!” We were very close in age, and we ended up blurring that line between coworkers and friends, which I avoid now, probably to a fault.

  11. Gymmie*

    The last recruiter who spoke with me told me the salary range right at the beginning. It was fairly broad, but they didn’t want to waste my time if it wasn’t in my target. It was actually MUCH higher than I’m making now for a similar position and I had to be all chill and like “yes, hmm, sounds fine, sounds fine”.

    1. goducks*

      I long ago adopted a rule that I discuss compensation (at least in general terms) in the first conversation. I became so tired of going down the road with candidates only to invest a bunch of time in them to learn that what I could offer and what they were seeking were irreconcilable. I can’t believe that I ever bought into the idea that you shouldn’t discuss it until you approach the offer stage, and I can’t believe it still persists as a norm. What a waste of everyone’s time!

        1. goducks*

          It really has made hiring much better.
          If we’re not on the same page as far as comp, why are we even talking?
          It’s not any different than any other part of the job, if the candidate and the company have fundamentally different expectations (the company expects 100% in office, the candidate will only accept telecommuting OR the company needs someone FT, and the candidate is only open to PT, etc). If the terms of employment aren’t agreeable to both parties, who cares about the skills and qualifications, it’s never going to be a match.
          And really, what’s bigger than comp? If the company and the candidate are not even close, there’s nothing that can be done to fix that.

          1. Gymmie*

            This is also the technique I employed when online dating. Obviously not salary based lol, but we need to meet right away before we communicate all this time only to find we don’t match when in person.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Ha I love playing the “ok be cool be cool act normal” game when you’re unexpectedly excited about a salary range.

  12. Aquawoman*

    Given that these are old letters, I’m curious how the firm resignation went. Because the kind of person who says they love you and you’re like a sister to them is veeeeeery often the kind of person who turns into a snarling beast if you “cross” them.

  13. Yvette*

    With regards to number 2, am I the only one getting a “Cutco knife” vibe from the whole thing? “First job”, “educational consultant” , “selling the program”. Couple that with the “she keeps saying that she loves me and has considered me as her little sister” (because we are family???) comments and it just comes across that way.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Yeah, it had a strong “scammy sales” vibe to it to me as well. There are so many of these weird product sales jobs out there, and they really do try to rope in inexperienced people who don’t know the norms and then pull stuff like this.

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Is cutco like amway? Because I got a very creepy, cultish kind of vibe from that letter. I hope the OP just quit on their own timescale, because someone as manipulative and boundary-crossing as that was never going to be a reliable reference anyway.

    3. E*

      Not really. Working in education you come to find there are a lot of organizations out there trying to sell the latest fad or module to teachers and administrators. Educational consultants are often just sales jobs but I think a little less commission-based than Cutco and similar organizations.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My kids are 5 years apart in school, which is just about the timeline for the arrival of the latest New Math Program that fixes all the problems with the previous New Math Program.

    4. Massmatt*

      There are lots of industries such as insurance where bad companies will advertise jobs with titles such as analyst or project manager but once you’re there it’s Sell sell sell!” Likewise, many employers will claim to provide leads but really you are expected to hit up your friends and family or cold call.

      Cutco knives have come up here before as an example, interesting as I’ve never heard of them outside of AAM.

      1. Quinalla*

        They actually do have pretty sturdy knives – not chef quality, but pretty good in-home use knives, I have a couple and so do my parents, but they are awful to work for based on info I’ve gotten from several people that have.

  14. NoName*

    Once a recruiter e-mailed me to set up a phone screening (about a job I had applied for) and asked about my salary expectations. I gave my typical spiel about how I wasn’t sure what salary range to expect for reasons x and y, but was interested in hearing their salary range if they had one in mind. Usually people are willing to immediately tell me their salary range, or they tell me they don’t know what the range is and would have to find out for me if I really need to know. This recruiter told me they couldn’t tell me the salary range because it would depend on my experience and qualifications, and if I didn’t have a range in mind then I could tell them my current salary instead. -_-

    1. Mr. X*

      I had a recruiter ask me for my current salary once, to ensure that the salary for the job he had in mind wasn’t “too much of a jump.”

      How about……no, you pay me for the job I’ll be performing. By his logic, if I was working as a janitor and somehow wound up as a CEO at my next job, I should only make a little more than I did as a janitor.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I’ve never understood that reasoning – too much of a jump? Was this guy concerned you were going to blow all that extra money on jetskis or something?

        That seems to be the logic behind the (hopefully dying) process of basing your new salary on your old, not tied to market rates.

      2. goducks*

        That’s how wage discrimination perpetuates. There’s starting to be states banning the asking for current/prior salary information. It’s a step in the right direction.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        Too much of a jump??? LOL! “Don’t worry, I’ll be able to handle any increase.”

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Yeah, I mean I’m sure my financial planner and I can sit down and manage this “crisis of me suddenly having a lot more money”, so no need to worry about me.

      4. BurnOutCandidate*

        I had the opposite happen last year. The recruiter asked me my salary, I told him, and he said that he couldn’t put me forward because of that. Based on job title and experience I had on my resume, he assumed that I was making at least double what I actually am making, and he said it would be a red flag that I’ve stayed for over a decade in a job that paid that far below market.

        I ended up thanking him, as it made my continued inability to even get to the interview stage in applying for other jobs make sense.

        1. Massmatt*

          Have you been able to leverage this info for a pay raise? This just goes to show that sometimes both employers and employees can get complacent about compensation when staying at one place a long time.

        2. Cynic Al*

          Or, they were on a commission based on the candidate salary.

          You might have taken the job for 75% of the salary – still a 50% raise for you.

  15. Allison*

    Recruiters are often hesitant to give a range, because all too often, people will expect the maximum or a number close to that maximum, when most people are going to get a number closer to the midpoint; the people who get the max salary are usually hot candidates for jobs that have been hard to fill. But those who do disclose the range usually do it verbally rather than in writing, because giving them a number in writing (even over the initial email exchange) gives them something to refer back to during the negotiation. “You told me the position could pay up to 120k, yet you’re only offering me 115k even though I’m exactly what you were looking for, I’m not taking the role for less than 120.”

    1. goducks*

      While it is true that as soon as people hear a range, they expect that they personally will be at the top of that range. But not disclosing a range at all risks the candidate’s requirements to be completely out of the ballpark for the company, which wastes everyone’s time.
      There are ways around this, such as having wages tied to bona fide conditions (my state’s pay equity law requires you be able to show a bona fide rationalization for any pay distinctions between employees). Or, absent a real matrix you can point to, you can say “The range is 70-75k annually, but we have a little wiggle room for a truly exceptional candidate who brings additional value (if you know that you can go up to 80k)

    2. Cog in the Machine*

      I can understand those reasons for not giving a range, but at least mention the lower end and any chance of promotion.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Exactly. “The salary range starts at $XXk but can go up depending on experience etc.” There should certainly be a floor and that’s generally enough to know whether it’s worth pursuing.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      Savvy job seekers are way more hesitant to give a range, because they face the same problem. The majority of the time, if an employer or recruiter hears a range of $75k-$85k, they hear, “I can hire this candidate for $75k” And they’re the ones in control of the process.

      1. goducks*

        I think it depends on how competitive the market is. If there’s a lot of competition for hiring, I know that if I go in at the bottom of their expected range, I’d better be bringing something else of high value to that candidate, or they’re going to seek another offer elsewhere closer to the top end of their range.

    4. Matilda Jefferies*

      I would argue that just because people expect to be paid at the top end of the range, doesn’t mean that the company is required to give it to them. Candidates can “expect” all they want, but if the organization decides to hold firm on the midpoint, then the candidate can decide take it or leave it. And if you can’t agree on salary, you were never going to get that candidate anyway, regardless of where in the range it falls.

      Also, I think candidates in general would adjust their expectations if it became the norm for companies to disclose the salary range up front. Right now, people expect the maximum because they have no basis for comparison. They don’t know what people in general tend to do when faced with a salary range, because there’s not enough data. So why not ask for the top end, and be willing to negotiate down? If companies really don’t want people “expecting” the top end of the range, the way to handle that is MORE transparency, not less. In the job ads, they could explicitly state “The range is $X to $Y. We expect the initial salary to be at the midpoint of that range, although candidates with A,B,C exceptional qualifications may be considered at the higher end.”

      You manage expectations by being clear about what you can do and what you can’t, not by being secretive because you think people might have expectations in the first place.

    5. Grouch Potato*

      But it would be easy to say in their disclosure “the range is $X- $Y and we expect most candidates will land mid-range”.

      Also, we’re all adults. We can hear a reasonable no when given. Withholding information supposedly to prevent people getting their hopes up is insulting.

    6. Just J.*

      I have a question in response to this that I am hoping people can answer: Are recruiters being truthful and transparent when they quote a salary range? Are they quoting salaries higher than what the company will offer to generate excitement? If statistically most offers will be at the middle, then why quote the high end at all?

  16. Yarrow*

    I once met with a recruiter who tried to convince me to pitch a much lower salary request than market value. They seemed like they didn’t understand the field at all despite telling me how many years one of them had spent in it. I left and immediately found the internal recruiter for that job (it’s a research job, I did some basic research to find it) on LinkedIn. She was straightforward about the salary range, told me I was right, and asked for the contact info for that recruiting firm. I assume they got a pointed call from her. Also, I got the job for the salary I wanted.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      A long time ago a recruiter complained that I was asking too much for a C junior development position. Truth was, I did my research and the average salary for that role was 30% more than I wanted, because young professionals prefer working with newer technologies.

  17. Eillah*

    I work as an admin, and the shock that some people feel when I have the gall to ask about salary (and care about the answer!) is really disheartening. The attitude behind it I’ve always gleaned is “your job isn’t important enough where you can ask about this and have standards.”

    1. Michelle*

      Admin work is undervalued. I have been an admin for the last 17 years and when I had to be out 4 weeks for surgery & recovery, you would have thought the place was going to go under. I made a detailed list of who to call/contact if something happened, the location of items they might need and made sure that all the office supplies and break room supplies were well stocked. I left a copy on my desk and emailed a copy to the other admin, who was going to help while I was out. . The day after surgery the texting began with questions that they could have easily answered if they checked the list or asked the other admin. I ended up just turning my phone off. When I turned it back on the next day, I have something like 50 missed calls and 102 texts.

      If you have to call me while I am recovering after surgery, you need to tell me upfront what the salary is. I don’t work because I want to, I work because I need to pay my bills and eat.

      1. Massmatt*

        This perfectly illustrates how essential many office admins are to an organization’s ability to function yet how poorly regarded it often is when it comes to compensation.

        I encounter many admins in my job and make a point of treating them like, well, professionals, and it has paid off many times. These people are the gate keepers, and usually know how everything works. “Oh, you want Joe. Steve is officially the one in charge of x but since he’s retiring soon Joe has been taking that on”. It pays to be nice!

  18. whatwhatwhat*

    I had a boss once who refused to accept my resignation also. I gave about 3 1/2 weeks’ notice. It was the weirdest thing. She said “We’ll discuss this again in two weeks.” I said, “I am resigning and my last day will be [date] and that is definite.” She kept acting like I hadn’t really made up my mind and would probably be staying. I ended up having to tell everyone else we worked with, including her boss, that this was definitely happening.

  19. OperaArt*

    And this is why I’m so glad California labor code requires:
    “Upon reasonable request, employers are now required to provide a pay scale for an applied-for position to an applicant.”

  20. OlympiasEpiriot*

    I recently was contacted by a recruiter for a competitor for a senior and supervisory technical position on LinkedIn Messaging. When I said “maybe” and got the e-mail, there was zero mention about compensation, just a long job description. I wrote back asking about a compensation range. I was told “As for the salary this would be a senior leadership appointment and we certainly wouldn’t waste your time. It is tough to give you a figure having not seen your resume. What are you looking for in order to make a move?”

    I gave it quite a bit of thought and figured that I really didn’t want to work with someone who was so protective of basic information that the majority of current B-school theoreticians encourage transparency about. I answered “…I don’t think I am a good candidate for you. I am only willing to consider moving on to a firm that engages in salary transparency…”

    I snorted at the “we wouldn’t waste your time” bit. They were already wasting my time by not answering a question.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Oh, and this was apparently an in-house recruiter as they had been provided with a firm e-mail. Huge multinational firm in my field.

    2. Booksalot*

      I respond with bat guano salaries when they act like that, say 30-40% above market rate for the position. If they want to play stupid games, I’m not putting an excess of effort into my reply. And if for some insane reason they bite that hook…it’s like playing the lottery for free.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I get it, but, I can’t even be bothered to reply with something over the top. I’m too old for this. I just want some clarity, especially when I’ve been contacted by *them* and they found me through my detailed profile on Linked In. I use mine more for a company marketing document, my firm is well known in my field; given my job description and employer and length of time here I would like to think I’m somewhat of a known quantity and they should already have budgeted a salary range so they can damn well give it to me. :)

  21. zolk*

    I got into a discussion about one line in this post today with friends. I’m not sure why, but about half of the managers and directors I’ve had in the past (I’m currently without a direct supervisor as they’re hiring) have been very very friendly with me, including saying I’m like a daughter to them, inviting me to their family events and outings, and routinely trying to set me up with people.

    I thought it was pretty normal if annoying, but between your throwaway line here and the reactions I’m guessing it’s not? I have to wonder if this is something about where I work (a large, public service organization – I’ve held positions in several different areas with wildly different bosses/areas of focus) or something I’m doing unconsciously that invites this behaviour.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Small firms? Family-run outfits? Maybe a cultural thing wherever you are?

      To me, it is unusual. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it from an employer.

      1. zolk*

        This is a major city in Canada, and public service. :/ Honestly confused now.
        (replied in the wrong spot originally augh)

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Hmm. Maybe next time someone says that to you, ask them why. I mean, not in a confrontation way….just curious.

  22. Software Developer*

    I’m a Software Developer, and recently I’ve started asking recruiters “What’s the salary range for this position?”, and most of the time they give me the range.
    Some of them even include the salary in their initial message, which I appreciate.
    Unless it’s my “dream job”, I’m not going to spend weeks interviewing (including doing the “homework” task) without knowing what they are paying.

  23. Kimmy Schmidt*

    In regards to Letter #4, how would you even begin to analyze and change the problem of having too much to sign? It sounds like the LW isn’t high enough in the organization structure to really do anything about it, they’re just the middleman who has to get the signatures.

    I’m in academia so I feel my view on this might be ~warped~, but I’m genuinely curious – how do you make changes that result in fewer signatures?

  24. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    In my field/job level (call centers, customer service, admin type roles) pay rates can range from $10-$20/hr. It is absolutely maddening to get recruiting emails that are pages long and include every detail about the company, location, job duties, qualifications, start date, and all they say about the pay rate, if anything, is “competitive”.

    I recently had an interview for a job I really want (fingers crossed!) and the pay truly is competitive. I know this because the phone screener told me the figure. She also told me not to say anything about it in the interview, because she wasn’t supposed to tell. We both agreed it’s a ridiculous policy because if our numbers are too far apart it’s a waste of both my time and theirs to do a full interview. I did, however, promise my lips were sealed.

    1. TPS Cover Sheet*

      The magic word ”competitive” as salary for me equates to ”it’s so embarrassingly low you can’t even post it”.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah, I tend to read “competitive” as “minimum wage, or just a little above.”

  25. MollyG*

    #5 It is quite possible that it was a fake job posting, in that they knew who they wanted to hire before they even posted. This is both highly unethical and very common.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      But if that was the case, why bother to tell the OP that they’d already hired someone? If it was a subterfuge, like they had a desired candidate but had to interview a specific number of people, wouldn’t they want to go ahead and interview the correct number of people?

  26. AnonInUniversityTown*

    It’s incredibly frustrating that companies are so secretive about salary. Knowing what I could be offered makes a difference in where I’d apply, I’d rather not waste anyone’s time if it’s not within the range I’m looking for.

  27. BeeGee*

    I feel for #5, I think I may be in a similar situation.

    I applied for a position at a mega corporation, was invited to take an online assessment (both logic assessment and personality assessment), and then I was informed two weeks later via automated email that I passed these first few steps and would be contacted over the next several weeks to be interviewed. The email noted that further correspondence about setting up an interview could take several weeks due to the high volume of applicants, but it’s hard not to be bummed out when almost six weeks have passed with no word and no designated contact to reach out to.

    As much as I feel like I’m “owed” an interview for the position, I have to accept that I may not get a chance to interview and that hiring practices in general are not often clear or considerate to applicants that apply. And as Alison has said in other posts too, it’s not worth your sanity trying to over analyze what goes on during the hiring process, because you’ll never really know what’s going on from the company’s end. Is it frustrating and disappointing? Absolutely. But for our own well-being, the best thing to do is to keep applying to jobs, not getting hung up on call backs or timelines, and reminding yourself that you are an intelligent and capable employee. :)

  28. Claire*

    It happens so often that recruiters contact me on LinkedIn and don’t provide a salary range, and when I ask, they say they can’t because it “varies with experience”. I always respond that as they found me via my LinkedIn, they can see that I have X years of experience in the field, and so can presumably give me an idea. I have never gotten a straight answer on why that’s not sufficient.

  29. Master Bean Counter*

    If you are a recruiter and you come to me I need two things:
    1. the Salary-I’m done wasting my time on jobs that pay pennies.
    2. A company name–I don’t do anonymous. There’s a good chance that I might have a conflict of interest, I’d like to know this up from.

    Also if I tell a recruiter what my salary requirement is–that’s not an opening to talk me down, it’s the price to get me to consider leaving where I am. And it’s really not cool if after telling you my salary requirements you want to drag my experience through the mud and say there’s no way I’m that good.

  30. Elizabeth West*

    Employers in all fields need to be more transparent about salary right up-front so that people can self-select out rather than investing time in a hiring process if they’re not aligned on salary.

    THANK YOU. I feel like I’ve been saying this since the world began!!

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