Why don’t all EA-suggested organizations disclose salary in job descriptions?


I believe every organization that is part of the wider EA community[1] , should disclose salary in the job description. Especially those listed on popular EA places, such as job boards, related forums or social media groups.

Reason: Applying to jobs and processing those applications takes a lot of time. This time is essentially wasted if a certain (low) salary would prevent an applicant from being able to accept the position.

Organizations who value using (applicant’s) time efficiently should hence disclose salary up front.


I didn’t immediately find another post on the EA forum answering this question. There is this post outlining the same issue, but it doesn’t mention the arguments.
I would be grateful if somebody could point me to a list of reasons why that should not be the case. If there are great arguments to hide salaries, which outweigh the benefits of disclosing it, I’d be happy to change my view.

If the general consensus is that all organizations should disclose salary, then why isn’t this the case everywhere? For example, vacancy locations recommended by EA organizations could have salary as a listing criteria. Or at least strongly encourage it, as well as making the amount or non-disclosure visible right away.

More information

Applying to jobs takes a lot of time, if you include time for these examples:

  • searching for open positions (e.g. browsing job board or Facebook groups)

  • filtering jobs for requirements you meet

  • learning more about the respective organizations

  • reading job descriptions

  • tailoring your CV to the job

  • writing a customized Cover Letter

If you actually get positive feedback, you will additionally spend time on:

  • possibly talking to people working at these organizations

  • one or multiple interviews

  • potential trial tasks (plus perhaps test preparation)

  • possibly required travel

For most of your applications you might never hear back, or likely get rejections. There is already a great post with several time examples and which outlines the mental challenge coming with this (lack of) feedback.

It also mentions that several EA organizations actually provide compensation for trial tasks, which is amazing! But of course you’ll only get that if you reach a higher round. Regardless of you advancing, you will not be compensated for the initial application process steps.

You might argue that if you just start applying to jobs, having the practice is beneficial, and hence even rejections are worth your time. However, after having sent out a dozen applicants you’re unlikely to benefit sufficiently from extra practice to justify spending the time.

On top of that, not getting any feedback with your rejections, doesn’t even allow you to learn and improve your future applications. While I believe it would be incredibly helpful if organizations provide such feedback—where feasible—this is a whole different argument, since it requires significant resources.

Compared to that, providing a salary range in the job description doesn’t require as much time. This includes factoring in more initial effort, such as calculating different ranges and potential additional paragraphs about location etc. It could potentially even save resources from the organization, which would have been spent on reading CVs from applicants, who wouldn’t be able to accept an offer either way.

Further Notes

Please note that I don’t see an issue with the actual salary amount. It’s understandable that many NGOs will have a lower budget than for-profit companies. And you likely also get the benefit of doing good directly with your job at an NGO.

Giving a perfectly accurate number is not required either. I’ve seen many jobs offer a certain range, so applicants at least have a ballpark. Other descriptions even have multiple ranges, based on applicants’ locations. Even if your personal location isn’t part of the list, the other pointers still allow you to make an informed estimate.

The only problem I want to point out are job descriptions which don’t disclose salaries at all. If organizations know they won’t be able to pay a rate competitive to for-profit equivalents, why do they hide it? They wouldn’t want to attract candidates that purely care about high salary anyways.

For candidates who actually want to work at a specific organization, but for whom a certain low salary might be an issue, not disclosing it doesn’t feel right to me, since it can waste applicants’ time. On the flip side, if the organization is able to provide a competitive or even high salary, not disclosing it seems even stranger to me, as they might be missing out on good applications.

  1. ^

    With these organizations one might mainly understand EA-related organizations. But I would also include for-profit organizations that are recommended by EA-aligned organizations. This is currently done for example by listing them on their job boards. In the latter case it would be more up to the EA organization maintaining these listings to check for salary disclosure.