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What Does DOE Mean in Salary Terms?

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Many job postings don't include salary ranges, which is partly by design. There are several reasons why employers don't list salaries in their job postings. But one common reason is because recruiters and hiring managers want to know more about the candidates' qualifications, skills and background before committing the organization to a salary range. Instead of advertising the salary, the recruit might write a job posting that will attract a wide range of applicants and then narrow down the applicant pool to those who fit into the company's salary structure. This practice actually may have an adverse affect on the types of applicants the job posting attracts. The term DOE generally means that the salary "depends on experience," and including that in a job posting generally reserves the right for an employer to offer a salary that is based on what the candidate brings to the organization.

DOE Meaning for Applicants

Many applicants who see the acronym DOE on a job posting may be less inclined to apply for the job, simply because they have no idea about what compensation range the employer is willing to pay. In her article for Association Career HQ, Rebecca Hawk suggests that employers should include salary ranges in job postings. Hawk says that DOE can be interpreted negatively by job seekers, and that some might pass up an opportunity to apply, guessing that it's not worth the trouble. In addition, Hawk bases her suggestion on a 2016 Society for Human Resource Management study, which indicates that nearly three-quarters of job seekers want to know the salary range.

DOE Definition for Employers

While the DOE meaning is "depending on experience," in dollars and cents it usually means that employers pay less for someone with minimal experience. That said, that doesn't take into account that an applicant might have minimal experience, yet might have the potential to learn new tasks and responsibilities. Many companies would rather have a teachable employee than an employee who knows how to perform a task the way she did at her previous job and is inflexible to the point where she doesn't want to learn new methods. If you have limited experience and want to position yourself as a suitable candidate, explain to the recruiter or hiring manager that you are capable of quickly grasping new concepts and open to learning the job, based on their company's way of doing things. That could at least lead you to justifying why you deserve a salary that's closer to the midpoint of the range, instead of starting at the lowest point of the pay scale.

Outsmart the DOE Acronym

Don't let the DOE acronym discourage you from applying for what could be your dream job. There are a number of ways to determine whether the employer has a competitive compensation structure. Online sources such as Glassdoor, and even LinkedIn, can be useful in determining what the market rate is for that job - or even what that particular job pays if you're able to find the same job or a similar one on those sites. Also, research the company, being careful to weed out any forum comments where disgruntled current or former employees post negative opinions about the company's pay and benefits. And if the employer invests the time and effort to crafting a well-written job posting, the chances are higher that it values applicants' time. In other words, a exceptionally detailed job posting that includes information about the company history and culture, as well as specific job duties and qualifications is likely written that way to appeal to the most qualified applicants. Translation: the company wants to hire the best and brightest and is willing to pay good wages. A job posting that simply states, "Admin Assistant with good typing and org skills; hours 8 to 5; close to highway; DOE" might not be worth your time to apply, unless you're looking for a job with a company willing to hire anybody.

Interpret the DOE Definition Differently

If you're in an interview and the topic of a DOE salary comes up, consider taking a chance by telling the recruiter or hiring manager that the DOE definition might also mean "depending on expertise." While the DOE acronym typically refers to experience, you could argue (in a friendly but convincing manner, of course) that it refers to a salary that depends on expertise - not experience. Your rationale, and assuming that you have the qualifications to back it up, is that you have subject matter expertise or expertise in performing certain job tasks, despite not having several years of experience. For example, say you studied biology in school and are exceptionally gifted in research, but your work experience in the sciences is rather limited. You could impress upon the recruiter or hiring manager that while your on-the-job experience is limited, your scientific research expertise is outstanding.


Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she earned both the SHRM-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), through the Society for Human Resource Management, and certification as a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) through the Human Resources Certification Institute. Ruth also is certified as a facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer. Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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