In August, job site Adzuna.co.uk published the results of their analysis of salaries on 500,000 job ads, and it turns out that only half of all employers disclose salaries on job adverts. The rest say things like ‘competitive’, ‘very attractive’, ‘dependent on experience’ or ‘available on application’ – alluring phrases which really just mean that there is a salary, but it’s a secret.
As a quick sidenote I’ll say that the report is a fascinating read and worth looking at as the results aren’t always what you would expect. For example, Google is at the top of the list of secretive employers with a clean 100% of jobs being advertised without salary details. Also, salary-less advertising depends on the industry and on the level of the job – real estate employers are very open about salaries (92%), but only 20% of graduate or part-time jobs disclose pay rates.
I wanted to know where publishing falls on this scale, although, honestly, I had a hunch. I’ve applied to many a publishing job and have never known the salary beforehand. I’ve even been to an interview where money was not mentioned, and once I requested a salary for one of those ‘available on request’ ads and got none the wiser (they wanted me to send my CV first, which actually means that the salary is available on application, not request).
To confirm what I think I already know, I’ve conducted a little research project. I went to the Bookseller‘s job section, which is arguably the largest database of publishing jobs in the UK, and did a count. At the time of writing, 151 jobs are listed on the board. Out of these, 5 include salary details. That’s a rather anaemic 3.3% against the 50% UK average.
A few possible explanations leap to mind. Book publishing is a notoriously badly compensated industry, and employers may want to try and make candidates fall in love with a job first before dropping the pay bomb. Perhaps employers believe that publishing people don’t care about the money, or that they can discourage those pesky ones who do from applying by not posting the salary. They may be worried about giving their competitors an advantage by showing their cards. And lastly, it’s easier to do what the rest of 96.7% of employers are doing – and end up with employees just like everyone else’s, too.
Yes, when you state the salary on a job advert, you may get too few candidates if the pay is low; too many if it’s high; the wrong kind (I’ve heard of a fear of getting greedy people if you advertise a good salary!) and have to worry about other publishers seeing what the going rate is in your company and using it to their advantage. And that might mean having to reconsider what you are willing to pay, figure out intelligent ways to separate the right candidates from the wrong and work on becoming a company where people will want to be despite better pay packets from your competitors.
These are all things employers should be doing already – although if they were you would expect to see more than 3.3% straight-talking job advertisements.
Incidentally, Adzuna.co.uk have devised something called Jobsworth, which uses their gigantic database to calculate a salary estimate (based on averages for that field and level) for any job advertised without salary details. They reckon the average salary for publishing in London is £31,239.
What do you think – do publishers have more to gain than to lose by being less secretive about the going rates for jobs?