How companies ruin our candidacy: the old “What salary range are you looking for” scam

I don’t know about you but I am seeing a connection between “Name your salary range” and never hearing from the company again.

I never understood that at all — the company does not allude to what the job pays. Not a hint of it…and before you know it, the company is never heard from again.

You know it is not “you.” You get feedback at the interview like “You just described the entire job” and your experience is more than enough for the job… but your chance mysteriously goes up into smoke once you name your salary.

You know you are fully qualified. You know you are smart and talented and you can run circles around the former employee that had the job.

So it isn’t “us.” This is a “THEM” problem again. And how dare you insult OUR collective intelligences by being so secretive and dishonest.

These companies never admit what the salary actually is. I suspect that the pay is far less than what we are asking for — and this is dumb for them, because do they actually think somebody will say “$15 an hour is about what I am asking for”? Do they think somebody will actually name a rock bottom per hour rate??? Who’s crazy here?

If the hiring entity winds up with a collective salary range of low 30s – high 40s (from all candidates when all is said and done) — gee, didn’t you just defeat the purpose of the entire interviewing process, if the salary that is actually available is a great deal less than what we are asking for?

It makes no sense.

The only way to not encounter this nonsense is to see the company name the actual salary when the ad is run. Or for them to say to you straightaway “We are offering X; is that suitable? if not, we will say goodbye right now.” That’s not going to happen, since nobody wants to look cheap.

Sorry, but  your company IS cheap and if you insist on paying somebody a very low nonliveable wage salary, hire a fresh out of high school grad and train the individual on the job.

I for one am sick of it — and I am pretty sure this is what happened to Monday’s job interview. The “what salary range are you looking for?” question was asked, I told them… and it doesn’t look to me like I am in the batch for the second interview.

I am thinking I priced myself out of the market. Well, too bad; I didn’t ask for a gargantuan salary but I didn’t ask for a non livable wage salary, either.

And if you DID give “low to mid 20s” as a salary range, how does it look for you? It looks like 1-you don’t know your value 2-you are clueless or 3- you are rock bottom desperate to get the job.

And there is no guarantee you will get the job.

So how do you WIN?

If you tell them straightaway, “I will work for whatever you are paying, ” you will look weak and desperate. It also does not guarantee that you will get the job.

I think a big tip off to the salaries in the company is to have a look at their benefits. A bunch that is allotting 5 days for vacation and perhaps a small handful of sick days probably isn’t at the top of the heap when it comes to paydays for the employees. Then again…I could be wrong.

Also have a look at the office itself: if it looks shabby and run down, it is not likely competitive pay or livable wage is the order of the day.

It doesn’t look to me like I am in the running for this job, either.   It is now about 1030 pm on Friday and I did not hear from the woman who interviewed me on Monday.

I for one am sick of this kind of question…and you never hear them say “Well, we are offering X” once you give the salary range you are asking for. This is unfair and this is not doing anybody a service, a favor or a courtesy.. This is a blatant waste of our time. And not only that, it is positively wrong behavior.

I am wondering how somebody actually acquires a job like these jobs — who is getting the offer? Do they pick some dummy? Who is getting the offers???

The only way to know for certain what the company is paying: they mention the salary in the copy of the ad or they email you and tell you right away, in their first email to you. This way you can take it or leave it.  As for the rest of the ads, “anything goes”: the salary can be anything from maybe $11 an hour to competitive wage.

Anybody’s thoughts and comments?

15 thoughts on “How companies ruin our candidacy: the old “What salary range are you looking for” scam”

  1. I agree with your assessment. Salary and benefits do have a positive correlation, though how strong that correlation is varies from field to field. I’ve been in a field where the benefits are much the same for everyone of a given length of service rather than job. The big hurdle is to get to a job where benefits are paid to any extent, and then the next step is “reasonable benefits”, however you define that. For instance, health insurance might be available at one employer, but you might be priced out of buying it because the employer pays only about 20% of the premium.

    I work with so-called “fully-burdened labor rates”. This is the cost of salary and benefits plus overhead and fee, the last two of which I will ignore. The impact of providing benefits on the actual cost of hiring is higher for lower-paid workers than higher-paid workers. For an admin, benefits can easily be 40-50% of salary. Suppose that you have my benefits package, which is health insurance that is 80% paid by the employer ($6000/year paid by the employer for individual coverage, which is about 6% of my pay but 12-14% of pay for an admin), 8% of pay to the pension plan, 7.65% to Social Security, up to 5% of pay to the 401(k) plan, 10 federal holidays (100 hours because we work a compressed work schedule, so that is just under 5% of salary), and at least 208 hours of paid time off (10% of pay, divided equally between sick and annual leave, but more for longer-service employees, up to 208 hours of annual leave and 104 hours of sick leave annually). One has to budget for at least some of the annual leave to be cashed out when the person leaves. I’ve left out overhead charges and fee/profit, and focused on what it costs to provide benefits to the employee. If I’ve added this up correctly, the cost of providing benefits is 48.65% of pay for an admin, but only about 42.65% for an engineer. This cost can be higher if the person has family coverage health insurance. When you add overhead and fee, a fully-burdened labor rate can be 225% of what the employee receives quite easily Workman’s comp and other job-related insurance costs aren’t included because the government self-insures for those costs.

    We can argue about the way to figure the true cost of providing time-off benefits and to account for it accurately. I’m inclined to raise the hourly rate to account for them. Much of the time, we buy so-called “level of effort” contracts where we buy so many hours of work, and the cost of benefits has to be included in that hourly rate, even though the employee isn’t paid that much.

    One of the good things about the pay-setting procedure in the federal government is that it is very transparent. If I know that I am being considered for an engineering job in another part of the country at a given pay grade, I know what my salary will be, though it is occasionally possible to negotiate a 3-6% higher salary. This is probably true of state agencies and many larger companies. Where I work, there is a large difference between what a person who works for the government and who works for the contractor is paid in at least a few jobs. For instance, an ammunition handler with experience who works for the contractor starts at $60K. I don’t know whether this includes mandatory overtime. A person who is starting with the government in the same job with no experience will get at least $38K per year, but that person will be making $42K within a year. If you don’t have experience, the logical thing to do is to work for the government and get the experience, then switch over to the contractor.

    1. And what makes this all the more dumb on their part: I have been to m ore than one interview where the hiring manager has told me “The job pays $15.” or “Sorry, only $10 an hour and no benefits.”

      What is the big dark secret???

      Sooner or later they will have to say what the salary is. They might as well be up front about it — their best bet is to put a “HELP WANTED” sign in the window and let one of the neighborhood residents take the job. There may be a student or a retiree who will be glad to have that money.

      The bigger point:

      This is BULLSHIT.

      This is also fraud and lies and deceit. And it is almost like some kind of bait and switch.

      1. I’d argue that people have no sense of what a job should pay or that they are hoping to hire someone on the cheap. I prefer to know ahead of time what the pay range for a job is. Those doing the hiring also neglect the cost of their time in interviewing many candidates seeking perfection when a random person who had the qualifications that they wanted would do.

        The days when employers could hire people for “pin money” that was spent on extras are long gone. If the employee is a student, they have whatever bills that they have to pay, and a retiree might not want to work as many hours as the employer wants for a variety of reasons. not the least of which is starting to lose their Social Security income if they earn over about $14,150 if they are single and under 70. I think that they lose $1 for every $3 that they earn above that, so working extra hours can result in an effective pay cut for them.

        1. For a senior or a student or somebody else who isn’t “qualified” to be a bona fide full timer — there is also job sharing or hiring 2 part timers.

          They just don’t have the brains anymore.

          It is impossible to tell now whether or not there is real interest in you — you get a one size fits all interview. That’s how they run things now.

          1. Even when there are alternative schedules available, they tend to be seldom used, in large part because the employer doesn’t want to be inconvenienced or doesn’t trust the staff.

  2. I have said before that these jobs do not really exist. If this was a ‘normal’ economy you would be, most likely, gainfully employed. But it is not ‘normal’. So, just keep applying of work but do not expect a job out of it. Apply for SSDI because I do not see a ‘normal’ economy coming back for a long time.

    1. If the jobs don’t really exist, what is the point of spending time advertising, evaluating applications and conducting interviews? Given that there are certain fixed costs to running a business that cannot be reduced, spending some extra time interviewing might make some sense, but without knowing the ratio of qualified applicants to interviews conducted and the number of positions filled, it is hard to do other than assert that position.

      The rise of phone interviews made it a lot cheaper for employers to hire people because it removed the need for the employer to pay for travel expenses to the on-site interview. The company will pay the salaries/wages of the people performing the interviews in any case, but at least five or six people are interviewed in a day rather than one or two people per day when they did the on-site interviews.

      In federal employment, other costs are being shifted to potential employees, such as relocation costs, and those are much larger costs than the cost to get to an onsite interview. Jobs are also tending to be filled one pay grade lower than they were 5-8 years ago, which for me would make a difference of at least $12K per year.

      The economy is seeing two significant constraining factors at opposite ends of workforce demographics. Students coming out of college are more burdened with student loans than they were even a decade ago, and people who hope to retire soon are paying down debt or increasing savings. Both of these factors will reduce consumption. Another factor that hurts is the perceived excess of low-skill employees to do low-skill jobs that used to be higher-skill and higher-paid jobs.

    2. According to the hiring manager, somebody there 4 years resigned her position.

      I do not see the harm in admitting “We are paying $15/$10 and no benefits/whatever low pay it is” — somebody somewhere is going to take the job even if it does pay that low — then again, you are asking for nothing but a waste of your time by inquiring “What salary are you looking at?” You know nobody is going to say $15 an hour unless they are totally clueless or only if they have skills that are minimal.

      I am not eligible for SSDI. I asked about that a long time ago.

      And even when I first got sick, my brains were fried — I was so fogged in by what happened I didn’t even know what to ask that doctor — do I tell him I got laid off? DO I ask him how long I need to take in “Sick leave” before I start to look for a job again? Do I collect maybe temporary disability until I am “eligible” to go back to work?

      I never thought of any of this. And he never even asked me “Do you work? if you do, take X weeks off until you report back” or something like it.

      What a damn wasteland, all of it.

      I am wondering what happened here. NO, I am not going to hear from them; this is because the salary I requested is what they will not willingly pay. Stop wasting our time and state up front what the job pays and let us be the judge of whether or not we wish to pursue the job that is available. To have candidates report for an interview and then permit them to ask for a salary that is clearly beyond the company’s means is clueless, foolhardy and an embarrassment — and a waste of our valuable time.

    3. And would these boneheads go through all this trouble for a bunch of market research?

      What a life. Imagine being able to take time off from your job during the day to conduct all of these interviews for a job that doesn’t even exist, all in the name of some kind of research and development.

  3. Often times a jobs existence is contingent on finding the right person. If the right person is not found, then the people currently doing that job will continue, or a temp will be brought in. A friend of mine was a long term temp, and by the time he got a permanent job elsewhere he was the only original employee left (permanent, or temp) at his temp job location. He was there for a few years. If you really want a job you must sign up with temp agencies. As for SSDI, you should just apply. The fact that you have been rejected by so many employers shows that you are unemployable. Just fill out the paperwork, and see what happens.

  4. Are companies really this loco??

    You know you can’t and won’t pay livable wage, yet you see nothing wrong in interviewing candidates who will indeed ask for going rate, market value and livable wage.

    What is this proving?

    This not only shows us that the outfit that has the job up for grabs is not all that smart and together, it also proves that the time of the job candidate is being wasted.

    As I said, you could have 5 candidates show up and all of them could ask for a salary in the range of high 30s to low 40s. Meanwhile, all you have on hand to pay whoever it is is $15 an hour.

    SO what good was it, holding the interviews? You know damn well that nobody will be receptive to that salary at all.

    Are companies this stupid, really?

    I can name many companies that I interviewed with that said from the very start of the interview that who admitted what salary they were paying. The salaries ranged from $10 an hour and no benefits to 45K and full benefits. Why can’t this outfit have done the same???

    Cut out this “big shot” bullshit; it’s sick and deceitful.

    Temp agencies have nothing. I don’t even think very many are left anymore. It’s a failed business model.

  5. I did not know temp agencies were no longer around! I have been out of the work force for so long I do not know what has changed. As I said, you should just recognize that the economy has left you behind and move on to SSDI. You, by applying to so many places and been rejected by all of them, have proven yourself unemployable by SSDI standards. I know you want to think it will get better, but after age 50 it only gets worse. Our society (if that is what it can be called!) chooses the winners, and throws sway the rest. The best you can do is get into the lifeboat of SSDI. Sad, but all too true!

  6. They are around but when I call they have no work available. I cannot figure how they even stay open and I do see very few of them around.

    SSDI would pay me nearly nothing —- what a nightmare all of this is, every last bit of it.

    What we are up against:

    Not the “over 50” bullshit but silly silly companies where the hiring entities know shit from shinola.

    Not age, but silly little shitheads who are running the hiring wheel. It doesn’t matter how old you are.

    Things used to be done in a certain way and even 20 years ago when the smallest of businesses was hiring out, you never saw any of today’s garbage.

    What it boiled down to back then, with a small company owned by one guy or a family:

    “Thanks for interviewing. I will be deciding at noon on Thursday. You are welcome to call to see if you got the job.”

    And when you called, it was either yes you got the job or no, we hired somebody else.

    No lollygagging, no second interview, no farting around no “I need to see everybody who sent a resume” — you were hired or you were not, in a matter of days.

    And often as not you were hired there and then, or at the most, you found out before the day was out.

  7. I think some of these jobs are legit but way too often it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. When they ask what my salary was I run the risk of either be too highly paid or in their mind if I understate it “why aren’t you worth more”. Some of the salaries being paid are ridiculous like jobs requiring tons of experience and education yet paying minimum wage.

    Recently I was offered a job. Sounds great until you realize it was a horrible job no one wants. It would require me to be on call nearly 24/7 and to actively work weekends. They claimed I would work 40 hours yet then they said it’s usually more, especially if I get called to the place. The job? it involves running a household with mentally ill, including many violent. I was told I might get beat up and have to accept it. Other jobs would be paying the bills of everyone who lives in the house (group home), driving them around, cooking and shopping for them and basically being their maid. The salary for this? $28,000.

  8. If anything at all, I most certainly should have been summoned to come in for the second interview.

    And when you do not get even that much, I tend to think the company has cards it is not showing and will not show.

    I tend to think it is a salary issue.

    And again, that is silliness at its best; if you cannot tell by assessing a resume what the person’s most likely salary is going to be, get the F out of the race! You’ve got no business being the person who is involved with the selection of a job candidate.

    And if you are that clueless, I can imagine how silly and pointless your company is. The apple never falls far from the tree.

    She could see I was more than qualified and the duties from my former jobs that I outlined were already on 2 or 3 pages worth of notes that I brought with me. So she can’t say I made up duties off the cuff to “match” the job that she had available.

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