Salary Shell Game Survey Results

We had just under 100 responses to the 6/3/15 survey asking readers their opinion on a variety of questions related to the practice of listing salary as “depends on experience” (DOE) in job descriptions and the results are, to say the least, thought-provoking.


The overwhelming majority of respondents self-identified as job seekers and most of those indicated that job listings should include salary ranges.

salary range survey respondents
click to enlarge

Among those who responded with “other” listed the following:

  • “Job listings should include salary ranges when the employer is constrained and the range might be lower than market.” ~ an employer
  • “Depends on the job.” ~ a job seeker
  • “Not include range and also not require me to state what I expect – that also varies with the quality of work life one might find in the position.” ~ a job seeker

It is worth noting than none of the respondents indicated that job listing should not include salary ranges.

Additional Understanding

The survey also asked respondents to rate their level of agreement with each primary point from Vu Le’s post “When you don’t disclose salary range on a job posting, a unicorn loses its wings” which served as the impetus for this survey.

salary range survey results
click to enlarge

Moving Forward

Adaptistration People 021It seems clear that respondents felt strongly that the field would be better served if job listings included salary ranges; results tended to favor reasons focusing on universal fairness but a smaller, yet still majority, group felt DOE propagates wage inequality based on sex and ethnicity.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these results run contrary to what employer’s desire, which is to list openings with DOE or no salary information listed at all (we examined this trend in detail via the initial post in this series). It seems that given the high degree of attrition and the increasing difficulty with attracting suitable candidates, the field as a whole would benefit from a formal examination with the goal of crafting recommended best practices.

Ideally, this would be a task well suited for service organizations, such as the League of American Orchestras, Opera America, and/or Dance USA. Currently, some of those organizations maintain sample job description content for standard positions within the field as a member resource so it isn’t a stretch to imagine introducing a recommendation for including an accompanying salary range.

Having said that, I wouldn’t hold your breath on it happening organically; instead, it will likely require an internal push from member institutions and a survey like this is a good starting point in that discussion.

Exceptions To The Rule

There’s a worthwhile exchange in the comments to the initial post initiated by reader Dan Rasay that helps draw some worthwhile distinctions when discussing applicability for salary ranges, such as budget size and position. To that end, taking those issues into consideration in order to help prevent inadvertently derailing an otherwise valuable discussion is a good place to start.

What are your thoughts? How does this data impact your outlook on this topic?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

Related Posts

1 thought on “Salary Shell Game Survey Results”

  1. I was wondering how this will effect Adaptistration Jobs. Will you go back to requiring people to provide a salary range?

    Since your goal is to provide a free to list/free to view job listing platform and people apparently balked when it came to the salary range requirement, it would seem you need to bow to necessity at this point and continue to allow people to be vague about salary.

Leave a Comment