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Understood: The salary can vary greatly, depending on experience, qualifications, talents, skills, etc.

But surely it would save everyone a whole lot of time if employers simply posted a ballpark estimate of what the salary would very roughly be like?

What are the main reasons for why companies tend not to state the salary estimate/range in job listings?

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    This is a cultural thing. In a number of countries (e.g. the UK) it is normal to quote a salary range for the job, primarily for the reason you mention. I'd hate to get to the negotiation part and find the employer is thinking 20k less than I am, especially given the current market seems to have multi-stage/week interview processes. – The Wandering Dev Manager Mar 11 '15 at 16:04
  • And this is why glassdoor exists. – Brad Christie Mar 12 '15 at 18:34
  • Must be cultural. In the uk you see "competitive", so even the timewasters...sorry companies that want to play coy feel the need to write something in that field. – Nathan Cooper Mar 20 '15 at 23:19
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  1. They don't want the competition to know.
  2. They don't want current employees to know.
  3. They don't want to attract too many candidates if some people see 100K and figure why not go for it?

They may say things like competitive wages and benefits.

Bottom line, if they still get a reasonable number of qualified candidates (i.e. it works) why not keep doing it?

  • It works both ways, some candidates can be hired at a lower rate than they would otherwise have had to pay, others can be hired in spite of having a higher salary requirement than the company was initially willing to spend if they are an especially desirable hire. As a job searcher, take advantage of this: research what is generally paid for the job you are going for, name a price that is a reasonable amount above what you expect to get, then negotiate from there. As always, don't talk salary until all else has pretty much been agreed upon. – Cronax Mar 12 '15 at 9:18
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It's because they can, and in the end they are the ones who profit from not doing it.

It's kind of the same reason why companies ask you how much salary you want in job interviews: they want to get away with paying you as little as possible, and they get that chance by asking you first, instead of you asking them.

If they give a range, i.e. x ... n, then they'll never get away with paying anyone x-1 salary, but someone might ask for x-1 or less once asked, but that's never going to happen if they tell you upfront that they'll pay at least x.

Also, people would not feel good accepting a very low number in the range, knowing that the company was actually ready to give a greater amount to someone else.

Note that some companies do post a range, but it's rare. They probably have higher standards (just maybe) so that they'll not feel bad about paying you at least the lowest number in the range since you qualify.

Also, magnitude is a key here. If a company were to hire 1000 employees in one day, with only a small amount of people taking care of the hiring process, then they'd be forced to throw out a number which people would simply have to accept or deny. But when a lot of time is giving to hire a few individuals the company can afford to take things slowly and try to get away with paying as little as possible.

  • Perhaps one puzzle is why this is not done in other industries. If "business is business" as you say, then why doesn't Target (or indeed any business) make the price of a T-shirt it's selling a secret and ask its customers to suggest a price? Such haggling is indeed done more often in poor countries. Why is it that in rich countries, there is so much mystery and haggling over the price of an employee but none over the price of a T-shirt? – Kenny LJ Mar 11 '15 at 15:33
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    @KennyLJ Because they've calculated how much they need to sell it for to gain profit, if some sellers might sell it too low then they'll loose money and if some sellers try to sell it too high then no one will buy and they'll eventually loose money. Also there are laws, at least on most countries (I'm not a lawyer), that prohibit companies from selling wares without properly displaying it's price. -- Besides, many people wouldn't bother buying things when in a hurry, knowing that they'll have to spend a large amount of time bargaining for a decent price. – Jonast92 Mar 11 '15 at 15:42
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    @KennyLJ, many companies do that, but the goods they're selling are typically luxuries, or are sold in situations where spending time haggling isn't an issue. I don't mind haggling over the price of a framed photograph, but I do mind haggling over a few cents when I'm buying a gallon of milk. – zzzzBov Mar 11 '15 at 15:42
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    @KennyLJ - Ever buy a house or a car? Haggling for a percentage point is worth it in those cases. – user8365 Mar 11 '15 at 18:44
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Because it tips their hand in the game of let's pay you as little as possible poker.

If there is no salary range listed then if they happen to find a qualified candidate who for whatever reason is willing to accept 30k less than they thought they would pay then this is a additional 30k in their back pocket every year .

Plus it also means that the people that already are being underpaid won't know that management is willing to pay $x more for their skills .

  • I find the pay as low as possible game is only done by companies with high turn over. (IE jobs that are almost always hiring) If you're in no rush you can avoid this sort of crap. – RualStorge Mar 12 '15 at 18:35

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