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$80,000 for a designer, how much?

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

This past week Ryan Carson tweeted that Carsonified were looking for a new designer for their Treehouse project. Nothing strange here, however the tweet includes the salary for the position; a seemingly unusual move.

In recent years I’ve noticed a distinct lack of transparency in job advertisements over salaries, and up until this week I thought that was a bad thing. Yet on seeing Ryan’s tweets a whole host of different ideas stirred in my mind, many of them not favourable:


My initial reaction to a salary which actually equates to around £51,000 was ‘how much?’. It seemed like a grossly exaggerated salary of which the high percentage of designers in the country could only dream of obtaining. A little digging into the A List Apart Survey 2010 shows 20.1% of all web professionals (of which designers are included) earn this or more. Though the North America and Oceania regions skew this figure and for Europe the figure is more like 11.2%.

So my initial reaction over how high the amount was a little unfounded as with Carsonified’s position and reputation the salary is likely to be a fair reflection of their turnover. Yet I still think it’s a bloody high salary for a company outside of London.

4 day work week

Carsonified also work a four day week, so anyone lucky enough to be paid this salary does so not only at the envy of many of the industry but also whilst spending less time in the office applying their craft. Note I don’t say that any less work is done, as one of the arguments of the 4 day week is that the same amount of work can be done in 4 that is done in 5 given such an incentive.

Yet at the back of the mind you still can’t help but think that someone will be getting paid more for doing less.

Company Transparency

I’m lucky in that the company I work for is transparent with almost any information we wish to ask, with the exception of salaries. This is how it should be as knowing what others in the company earn only leads to problems.

But at Carsonified you now have the position where all the company will be aware of the new guy’s (or gal’s) salary, while this person is unaware of what everyone else is paid. But what about these other people? I have to hope they all get paid a higher salary otherwise these people are going to feel a little hard done by, no matter how much they try to rationalise the differences.

I can’t do this

One of the reasons I used to think companies should advertise a salary with a new job is so you can gauge if the job was worth going for. If the salary is lower than your current one then you wouldn’t bother wasting your time. But now on the flipside what if the salary is so much more that your current salary?

A new designer may be very talented but their experience affords them a salary of let’s say £21,000. With the Carsonified job a full £30,000 more a year could this designer be put off thinking they simply won’t be good enough to fulfil the requirements of such a salary, even though they may be.

Spec Work

Everyone hates spec work right? Is the Carsonified application process considered spec work? I think so, yet it’s a fine line.

A great many in this industry as part of their interview process will be asked to display their talents though a given challenge. I for one had to create a design for a website. But this was done at the end of an interview. I would hope at the moment of being asked to spend what was a good few hours on a design that I had a pretty good shot at the job. I’d clearly interviewed well enough. If not and there was no chance in me getting the role I’d have hoped I wouldn’t have been asked to do work for no reason.

Yet for the Carsonified role this is being done before the interview, seemingly to reduce the number of interviewees. But wouldn’t a beautifully designed CV or a portfolio achieve the same result without the need for some to have to put what would be a lot of work into something they may never have a hope in hell of getting.
It’s the wrong way round for me and this stinks of spec work for me.

So should salaries be hidden?

I used to think it was something useful to an applicant in deciding whether or not to go for a role, but doing so could easily cause more issues than it solves. I think especially for other people within the company.

I do hope whoever gets the job is successful in the role, and enjoys the experience but I’m not sure this was a well considered move by Ryan.