You’ve just discovered a job description that seems like a perfect fit for you, and it’s like striking gold. Or it would be, if not for one all-too-common problem: There’s no salary range listed.
Many job seekers look at a posted salary range to help identify whether an open position is equivalent with their level of experience, or in line with their needs and expectations. It’s a practical way to decide whether it’s worth your time applying for — and trust us, we really wish employers would always list a salary range. (And we’re not alone!)
Unfortunately, a lot of nonprofits are hesitant to post a salary range. They prefer to say salary is “commensurate with experience” or “DOE” (depends on experience). This practice of salary cloaking stems from the belief that not posting a specific salary will encourage more applicants — a debateable effect, especially when you consider that a smaller pool of better-informed applicants should actually save employers time and effort.
However, several nonprofit leaders have been vocal about trying to change this practice. “We need to dismantle [a] terrible habit that many, many of us have, one that we don’t think much about, but one that is driving lots of people nuts, perpetuates gender and other inequities, and increases the power imbalance between employers and employees,” writes Vu Le, executive director of Seattle nonprofit Rainier Valley Corps, in a post on his popular blog Nonprofit with Balls.
So, how do you evaluate a job posting with no salary range listed?
Go ahead and apply — what’s one more application — but when someone reaches out to you for an interview, don’t be afraid to inquire about a salary range up front. Forbes suggests you respond with a quick reply saying, “Thanks very much for your message. The position sounds interesting. May I ask what the salary range is? I would hate to waste your time if we’re not in the same ballpark compensation-wise.”
If you don’t feel comfortable asking about salary upfront, you can ask during the interview process. The Interview Guys offer a great guide to discussing salary during your interview process, and how to respond to questions regarding your previous salary and/or salary expectations.
Do your research.
Before discussing salary, be sure your expectations are in line with with reality. Your education, experience, the size of the organization you’re interviewing with, and even your geography can affect your potential compensation level. There are great tools out there like salary.com and payscale.com that can help you determine what salary you should expect.
As with everything during the job search process, be open to negotiation and willing to compromise — to a point. Never sell yourself short, and be sure you’re being smart about the minimum salary you require to live. However, if you find a great job you’re excited about but the salary comes in a bit low, don’t be afraid to take it — then plan on making your pitch for a raise when the time is right.
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