Why don't London startups include salaries in job ads?

Coins on pay packet

Salaries are rarely quoted in job ads for startups - and we engineers are as much to blame as anyone.

Of the 300 jobs currently live on Zonino only 14 of them offer a salary or salary range. That's a pretty sizable majority of companies that expect engineers to apply to jobs without knowing how much they are likely to be paid for doing them. This seems rather unreasonable until you think about how British people usually discuss what they earn. That is, they don't discuss it at all. Not a peep.

It's considered poor form and jolly impolite to discuss one's salary. Especially in Tech. And while the stigma exists we will never see an open approach to salary discussions. There seems to be something peculiarly unique about the technology industry where it is considered especially unpaletable to discuss payslips with peers.

But it doesn't have to be like this. Back in December Buffer published the salaries of all of their staff. That's pretty cool and I'd love to hear what effect that had on the dynamics within the company. That level of openness is usually reserved for the public sector where everybody knows which pay bands everyone is in.

There are even more extreme examples. In Norway and Sweden for instance everyone's tax returns are available to the public. I can't see that going down terribly well in old Blighty.

So I don't think startups are really to blame. Engineers being stuffy about salaries means there is no obligation for a startup to show their hand too soon - they might be able to hire you much more cheaply than they intended if your expectations are lower than their budget.

Grey Baker, COO of GoCardless makes a good point about not wanting to emphasise salaries:

Pay is just one part of what we offer, and any of our employees could earn more as freelancers; they choose GoCardless for other reasons.

With contractor pay vastly higher than permanent pay it seems sensible for a startup to emphasise the other benefits of joining. Grey continues:

London startups differ from each other significantly in terms of culture, but not hugely in terms of pay. I’m glad we’re emphasising our work and engineering culture.

And what about publishing everyone's salaries Buffer-style?

I’m not sure everyone at GoCardless would go for it... It’s not very British, is it?!

Not 'alf, old chap. Ultimately I think everyone benefits from openness about pay. Feeling awkward about engineering salaries doesn't help anyone. But if we want more transparency from employers we'd do well to be a little more open with each other first.