“Commensurate with experience” is a meaningless phrase.

I am beginning to loathe the phrase “salary is commensurate with experience.”

Variants include: “competitive salary based on experience” and “we offer a competitive compensation and benefits package.”

These phrases are meaningless. Really, who’s going to transparently say “we can’t pay you a competitive salary” or “we can’t actually pay you what you deserve”?

The phrase is casually dropped in nearly every job posting I see. I’ve begun scrolling to the bottom first, without even reading the job description, just to look for it. My own little masochistic game.

Even “our salaries are competitive with other small nonprofits” is better, yet still vague. I actually even prefer no mention of salary at all to the dreadful c-words.

I have been approaching my job search with a philosophy that resembles online dating more than a college application. I want to find the right fit for me, and I want to be the best person for you and your organization. I’m not just asking for you to accept me and so I can patiently wait for you to tell me what you think I’m worth. I want to have honest conversation, and I don’t want to waste your time or waste mine.

Why can’t companies be transparent about their pay?

Recently I saw this in a job posting, and my heart nearly skipped a beat.

Companies often have a salary range determined in advance. That’s just solid budgeting. I’m happy to negotiate where I sit in that range, if I’m the right fit.

I’ve been on the hiring side many times. I know that there are many factors that inform a salary offer: a candidate’s skills, years of experience, a professional network, and potentially even salary history.

I don’t think anyone is naive enough to believe that their experience won’t affect their pay. So can we drop that cop out line?

Let’s make the job search and hiring process better for everyone. Tell me what “competitive” means to you. Who are you competitive with? And if you’re determining what’s commensurate, give me an example. Commensurate means proportionate, so what are your proportions?

I know there must be a better way to do this. If you have any ideas, add them below.

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