Put Your Salary Range in Your Job Posting, Please!

Let’s start out with the basic request or statement:

Please, put your salary range for an open position in your job posting.

Now, why do some places not do that? I think a lot of it has to do with negotiation. They figure if they don’t give the first number, they’re likely to get a better deal. I agree - getting a good deal on a programming resource is great, but that’s not the whole goal here. You should be trying to find the best fit. And, guess what? The best fit is the one who is most informed. Plus giving the first offer in a negotiation gives you the upper hand - which the job posting is part of that negotiation. It’s the first step.

But, instead of looking like I’m bashing the reasons why people might not want to, let’s go positive. Let’s talk about the reasons you should list your salary range.

The Best Candidates Need Context

Each developer is different. They have different needs. Some need more money, others need more flexibility. For some, money is important. For others, it’s a second or third concern. But regardless, listing this information helps them determine if they should apply. Your time is super valuable, and you should want people to disqualify themselves if they’re not a fit.

“But Aaron. For a perfect candidate, I’d pay more.” That’s not the right attitude. That means you don’t actually have a range. “The best candidate” won’t apply if they feel like you’re not sharing all of the information. Just because you offer 50 to 75, doesn’t mean that everyone will ask for 75. It also doesn’t mean you have to give them that.

The context of the salary range also helps educate on the needs of the position. Everyone’s definition of jr, mid, senior developer is different. But, when you start putting salaries near it, it helps get clearer. A senior won’t apply for a job that’s $30,000 most likely - and if they did win that job, they’d probably be very bored. It wouldn’t be a good fit - they’d move on quickly, and you’d be full circle again.

Sometimes people have told me that they think they’ll get a good programmer at a lesser salary, because they’ll be so happy to work here. I get that - if the driver for that programmer is not money, then you might be right. But if it is money, they won’t be happy and you’ll either not win them - or not get their best work.

Transparency is a Good Thing

The interview process is a two-way street. Candidates are trying to learn about the place that they’ll be spending the next months, years of their life at. Many hours a day will be spend working with this company, so the more they can learn about it, the better. When you start out a job posting with details, a salary range, and other supporting information, that transparency will help you win better candidates. The transparency of sharing this develops a trust right away.

Holding back salary information is almost adversarial. You have information, and you’re unwilling to share it. The candidate is already trying to make a good impression. You’re trying to learn about them, they’re learning about your organization. They know that they have to make a good negotiation for the final number, but they can’t even feel anchored. A good employer understands that its a mutual relationship - there shouldn’t be an extreme upper hand. This idea is old-school in my opinion.

I’m Mad Because They’re Asking Too Much

First of all, don’t take it personally. If they’re asking for too much, one of two things are going to happen. First, they might find a job somewhere else where they’re happy. If someone wants more than you can afford, you’ll never be able to build a long-lasting business relationship with them anyway. So, you’re saving yourself some longer-term grief. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but its true.

Second, why are you mad? Are they going to make more money than you? Are they not qualified? Or is it that the market is changing, and your company isn’t? Salaries will rise as demand rises. I say don’t get mad at these people, instead understand it, and if possible embrace it. Let’s talk about this from two points of view:

Peers Push Your Salary Higher

If you’re a peer with this person, the fact that they’re going to make more money will push your salary higher as well. Also, what does it matter to you if someone makes the same or less than you? You made an agreement and you were happy. Comparing yourself to others will always make you unhappy. But, in most cases, a higher-paid peer will help you make your case for a larger raise in the future. Now, prove that you’re worth it.

Direct Reports Push Your Salary Higher

Traditionally, bosses will make slightly - to majestically - more than their reports. When you have people knocking at your door of salary, that will help raise your salary as well. Sometimes, reports will make more than you (and that requires some special emotional and business maturity to be ok with), but most often you’ll “have to” make more money than them.

When people ask for more money, and they’re skilled, they help push up the market. Just like how CEO-level employees seem to get huge bumps because the market supports it, the same is happening at a micro level here. (Please understand, I comprehend the disconnect between my positive portrayal of this compared to how business owners may feel about their salary load increasing.) But, speaking of micro markets and levels…

Macro Vs Micro Market Competition

Your market or your area might dictate what you can or are willing to pay for a new employee. Providing this salary range information helps them decided if they’re willing to participate in a micro market or a macro market. Let me explain.

From a macro market, salaries can be all over for developers. You’re battling coast-based salaries, stock, flexibility, etc. Especially if its remote, the macro market plays a big part here. Some developers are in this (stuck or otherwise), and won’t participate in your micro market.

Micro market salary and positions refer to the idea that you take cost of living and your expenses into account when crafting a salary. You may have specific revenue based on the locality’s ability to burden large costs. You might pay less or more based on the cost of living - especially if you have local workers. When you share your salary posting, you help inform job seekers of your market.

Again, its best to spend your time on people who are going to be great fits. If the developer doesn’t fit your micro market requirements, its best not to waste your time and money on them. The only way this “works” is if somehow you sell or “trick” them - and that’s a lot of work. Instead, specify your range, and let them decide if they can fit in there.

Final Thoughts

Job postings should have salary ranges. This helps determine many things about the company and job: what are the expectations, what is the perceived value, what kind of challenge is it, and how transparent is the company. You should consider listing salary ranges as a gift for those who are a good fit, and a deterrent to those who aren’t interested, thereby saving you time. Oh, and PS - please use your real salary. Don’t say $40k to $150k - that’s just not real.

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