Benefits and Compensation

Study Sheds Light on Disclosing Salary Info in Job Listings

One of the biggest criticisms employers are subjected to revolves around their transparency in job postings, especially when it comes to salary ranges. The argument from employees is that not providing a salary range makes it harder for them to determine what jobs are worthwhile financially. On the other side of the coin, employers often choose not to disclose salary ranges in the hopes they’ll attract people who are interested in the role regardless of how much money is involved.

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But, in the current job market—and especially as a result of the Great Resignation—many employees are reevaluating their priorities. For some, that means not applying for jobs that don’t provide a salary range in the listing. Has this prompted employers to change their ways, or are they sticking to their guns and not providing insight on salaries upfront?

A new study from Joblist shed some serious light on this issue, surveying 515 hiring managers to get a sense of their company’s policy, how it may have changed in response to the pandemic-related job market, and much more.

A Matter of Policy

For many companies, especially larger ones, whether they disclose a salary range is simply a policy decision they may not change because that’s just how they’ve always operated. In other instances, disclosing salary is something many companies do on a case-by-case basis depending on the role or circumstances surrounding it.

The Joblist study showed there was a fairly even split between companies that don’t and companies that do include salary in a job description. According to respondents, 36% of companies often or always disclose salary information, while 38% rarely do or never did. Interestingly, 1 in 20 companies involved in the survey recently changed their policy, with the biggest reason being that it improved transparency (67%). Fifty-two percent said they did it to change the norm.

Pros and Cons

When examining the positive and negative outcomes of disclosing salary ranges, the biggest positive that respondents felt came with disclosure was that it attracted more candidates overall (65%). The other main positive outcome of disclosing salary, according to respondents, was that it attracted more highly qualified prospects to the role (43%).

One of the most notable takeaways of the study was what respondents felt was the most negative outcome of sharing a salary range in a job posting: 30% said it forced companies to raise salaries as a result. Additionally, 21% felt that disclosing salary would actually attract less qualified candidates, while 17% said it would attract fewer people overall.

The top reason hiring managers choose not to disclose salary ranges, according to respondents whose companies opt not to, is that they want to find candidates who are driven by passion instead of money (53%). Forty-nine percent said they don’t disclose because they want to retain negotiations leverage, 38% said they want to avoid offering salaries that outcompete the salaries of current employees, 38% said they want to avoid competitors offering slightly more money, and 23% said they simply don’t have any need to change the status quo.

What the Applicants Say

Of course, a company’s decision whether to disclose a salary range in a job listing is entirely its own, regardless of the reason. But as the Joblist survey showed, applicants respond in different ways to transparency—or lack thereof.

Notably, the study found that companies that were flexible in their disclosure policy got high-quality candidates at a rate that was two to three times higher than companies that were more regimented in their disclosure policy. While the findings showed that 50% of respondents said applicants rarely turned down an offer after discussing salary, 31% of the hiring managers surveyed did say that in the past 6 months, someone did turn down an offer after salary was discussed.

Transparency Is Key

Whether a company decides to disclose a salary range depends on circumstances, but in the current job market, many organizations are starting to take more serious steps to improve attractability and show they are transparent and forthright in what they’re offering.

There are, of course, other ways to show potential employees that your company is worth working for, but the truth is that most employees are concerned with pay, and considering that in a company’s policy can really go a long way.

Sean Kelly is a writer, an editor, and a journalist currently residing in Savannah, Georgia. In addition to a 15-year freelance career in content creation, he was the arts and entertainment editor for alt-weekly newspaper Connect Savannah and currently is the cofounder of nonprofit news organization The Savannahian.