Lessons learned since posting my salary history publicly
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Just over a year ago, I did something quite "out there", even for me, and I posted my salary history publicly. This was accompanied by a blog post to explain why I was doing it, and it's certainly been popular.
When I first posted it, I made a note to myself to come back in a year, and see whether anything had changed, as well as to look back on some of the events that happened immediately after my posting, as it certainly made life interesting in the month or so following the post. I wrote up a lightning talk I did the month after, but this should give a bit more insight on further reflection.
The usual caveats apply of the fact that this is a personal post, detailing personal experiences, and doesn't represent the views of any employers. I have also made efforts to remove a number of key details, which would tell a more realistic story, but are probably best told in person, rather than on the Internet.
How many people have seen it?☆
Probably one of the key things you, dear reader, want to know is how many people have seen the page?
I love the dopamine rush of watching my analytics climb up after posting a new post, or trying to work out where referrers are coming from when I see a sudden spike in hits, and I will always have my analytics open in a window on my desktop, so I can see what's going on at the moment.
So how many people have seen this? My first caveat for these numbers is that privacy-protecting browsers and extensions often block it (which is absolutely fine, by the way!) so these numbers are definitely not as many as it's actually gotten, it's just based on how many people don't block my analytics.
|Number of views
|% of overall site views (between 2021-09-09 and 2022-09-21)
|Salary blog post
One of the most interesting things is how many direct hits I get on the page - it's often not discovered on my site's header, or via the feed, but it's by someone either arriving through a privacy-preserving referrer, or they're here by a direct link someone else has sent them. Probably the most organic way of building traffic I've ever had, including being featured on a podcast, and in several newsletters!
I got a lot of (private) thanks
In the days after posting it, I received loads of private messages from folks, a good number from underrepresented backgrounds, to say thank you for posting it, and that it's really been helpful for them. I also know of at least 3 people who've used it to get a considerably better paying job, which is really amazing.
I'd love to hear if it's been great for you, too.
It's got more people sharing theirs
Something really awesome is that since I posted my blog post, I've had a number of other people in the tech community sharing their own salaries. I know of at least 5 people who've done it off the back of my post, which to be honest is really quite cool. It's nice to have been able to nudge a bit of change.
I'm capturing them by tagging them with my
salary tag (although I will caveat that it is included with a lot of other posts, sorry it's not as discoverable!) and hope to have pages of these in the future!
Didn't check legality
In my usual way of living my life, I didn't quite consider the consequences of what I was doing, I'd just got it in my head that I wanted to do it, so I did it.
It wasn't until it was being actively discussed on the Tech Nottingham Slack that I realised it could have been illegal to talk about 😅 Fortunately, it was all OK - and I double checked in my contract - but not ideal to be finding that out after it's already been read by quite a few folks.
People are more comfortable sharing privately than publicly
Something I completely appreciate, and massively applaud, is that people are still talking salary, just not publicly. Talking about topics like this is hard even with friends, let alone putting it out for the whole world to see.
I know a few people who've said that they're worried it comes off as if they're "showing off", or that they'll be devalued as a person because their salary is lower than someone else's.
It's absolutely a difficult one to deal with, and I guess if you can get yourself over that, it's great but if not, that's also OK. But it's still awesome that a lot of people are talking about salaries with friends, and hopefully it's helping more people bridge the topic.
Probably(?) not been bad for me
So far, I don't think I've been negatively affected by the move. It didn't seem to block me moving jobs, and I've not had anything explicitly saying it's bad, but it may have been causing people to look down on me behind-the-scenes, and I wouldn't know.
I asked companies about whether they were comfortable with me sharing salary details when applying - if they'd not already done their background research on me - and they were happy with it.
I would say that one thing I as an employee bring to the table is a level of transparency, both internally and externally, and it's nice to be in companies that value this, whether it's my salary or talking about what I'm working on.
Unfortunately I can't take the credit for California deciding to require salary ranges on job applications, but I can definitely take some wins closer to home.
I know that the Nottingham job market was affected by my post, as suddenly a lot of recruiters knew exactly what salary and progression looked like elsewhere, as well as people looking at moving elsewhere having more of an idea about what that would be like.
There's definitely a company in Nottingham that started to discuss their salary ranges being put publicly on job posts after my post, but I've not had a chance to check if it was done.
Great for current employers
I would also say that generally his has been positive for my employers.
When I worked in the government, our salary ranges are public and transparent, and it's really great to make things fair for candidates and employees alike. Putting my individual salary on top of that didn't help too much, because people could guess where in the salary band I'd be landing, but in a private company, it makes a lot more of a difference.
At Deliveroo, we compensate exceptionally well in terms of salary, so having that extremely public, as well as the submitted salary information on sites like Glassdoor, has been - from what I've been told - positive for the company, and convincing more folks to come work for us. It also helps that we've got some great tech, great problems, and you can spend most of your days delivering value to customers 🤓
There are things like
levels.fyi, Glassdoor and Google Sheet of (mostly US-based) salaries going around, but it's nice to have other options, to see what you could get compensation wise.
Does it make negotiation harder?
One concern people have is that if they've got their current salary, they believe that negotiating for a raise/new job is harder.
I'll definitely defer to someone who's well versed in negotiation - there are some great workshops out there! - but I'll say for me, I'm privileged and comfortable being a bit more entitled in the world.
I did find it difficult at first going into a couple of job applications, where they requested a range that you'd be interested in getting, but I increased the numbers a good chunk from what I was currently getting, and that worked out well 😁
But remember that just because they know what you're currently being paid, doesn't make it like they have any more power over you - if, before you've even started, they want to knock your salary down as much as possible, it's unlikely to get better the longer you work there.
The "counter offer"
One thing that I found out in my exit interview at Capital One is that the mistake I made while posting this was to call something a "counter offer" from Capital One. It was noted that this wasn't a counter offer, it was a "your salary is being updated anyway for competitiveness", but I'd misinterpreted the exact wording, as it sounded like a counter at the time.
Unfortunately by the time I'd been told, the damage had been done, and I'd caused some awkward conversations internally about counter offers. I've now removed the reference to this "counter offer", but thought it should be talked about.
Take it with a pinch of salt
As often comes up in conversations about salary - take the numbers with a pinch of salt. I've had a number of US-based folks call me woefully underpaid at £90k fully remote in Nottingham, whereas looking at that compared to folks who are also Senior Engineers at Nottingham-based companies, it ain't me being underpaid 🤑
Also remember that the salary doesn't necessarily take into account things like workload, personal development time, and benefits - use it as a guiding factor, not the be-all-and-end-all!
Hah, tricked you - I don't have any! I've found it to be a really good experience, and am really glad that I've been able to enact some change.
There's some interesting conversations on Lobsters about salary history pages that may be good as some further reading.
Here's to the rest of my career being as transparent!