Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Confidential company seeks anonymous employee for unstated salary

Who are the mystery jobs?

Over the last decade, it's become standard for employers to stop giving a salary range in job ads and start asking applicants for "salary expectations" along with their resume and cover letter.

It wasn't always this way, but I know why it is now: it puts the question of salary on the shoulders of applicants who know they must put "challenges above salary" in an effort to underbid the competition, look "giving," and land the job. The more desperate (I mean "giving") the employees, the lower the salary the employer has to pay.

The way I recommend dealing with "salary expectations" is to do as a candidate what employers used to do in job ads: give a range, starting at the salary you want to be paid and going higher for things like "working odd hours," "managing staff," and "doing windows."

If you already work in the industry, you probably have a pretty good idea of what the job pays based on title, job description, and common knowledge. If you don't, all you can really do is take your best guess.

Who are you - who who who who?

The mystery salary has a new friend: the mystery employer.

Lately, more and more job ads are featuring a "confidential employer" - though you can sometimes figure out who it is based on the description:
"A major fast-food retailer seeks a drive-through employee who doesn't mind dressing up like a clown." 
Clearly, it's an ad for a journalist at a Rupert Murdoch newspaper.

The reason for keeping the employer secret probably has something to do with entitled job candidates suing potential employers for any manner of real and imagined offenses, including - but not limited to - looking at them funny, getting in their faces, and giving them the stink eye.

So, the employer hides behind a recruiting company and doesn't have to worry about lawsuits.

The trouble: who can really get excited about applying for a job with Employer X? No one, not even people desperate enough to apply for anything, who are going to make up the bulk of the candidates who go for these positions.

You can't research the company beforehand, you can't explain in your cover letter how much you love it, and you can't answer the question at the interview, "Why do you want to work for UNNAMED EMPLOYER?"

"I don't know. I'm a loser?"

Show us the love

The problem with employers leaving salary up to applicants is that if you price yourself out of the competition, the whole process is a waste of time from the get-go, for employer and applicant alike. Leaving out the name of your business is just - rude?

Saying who you are and stating a salary range in the ad just seem like nice things to do in order to attract the best employees with the best training, who only want to give their blood, sweat, and tears for a company that's as transparent, open, and honest as they're expected to be.

Ya give a little love, and it all comes back to you:


  1. I think I'd have a hard time applying for a position that didn't name the employer. It's impossible to know if it is a company I believe in and one that I'd want to be a part of.

    I do think organizations will get a better selection of candidates if they actually name themselves.

  2. with my luck i'd apply for a job at my current employer and then be stuck here AGAIN!

  3. Man, that Bugsy Malone vid sure takes me back! My cheeks hurt from smiling! Made my day. Thanx!

  4. I love the Bugsy Malone - particularly this song.

    Never thought of that: you apply for the confidential job, and it turns out to be the one you've got. Ha!


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