Pros and cons of including salary in a job ad

Deciding whether to list salary in job ads can be a complex issue for employers. Although there’s a real drive from job seekers to see it included, there are many factors to weigh up to understand whether it’s the best strategy for your company.

Here, recruitment and hiring experts share the pros and cons of including salary in job ads, to help you make an informed decision. 

Pros of including salary in your job ads

According to research for SEEK, 94% of job seekers say knowing the salary of a job before applying is extremely important. This is backed by 80% of job seekers agreeing that salary inclusion in a job ad makes them feel more positive about a potential employer.

And it’s not just candidates who think salary is an important element in job ads. Both Jared Stafford, manager of Strategic Sourcing and Recruitment for Programmed, and Sharmaine Lagman, Talent Acquisition Business Partner for TMLabs, say that including salary in job ads can benefit employers as well as candidates.

Together, they list the following pros:

  • Employers are more likely to find suitable candidates and receive better quality applications, leading to fewer unnecessary inquiries
  • It can help employers stand out in a competitive job market
  • Being up front about the salary can help address gender and diversity gaps and promote equal opportunity employment
  • It can contribute to positive employer brand perceptions, as candidates feel more positive about a potential employer if they include salary in their job ads
  • It promotes transparency and sets realistic expectations for both candidates and employers before they invest their time in the recruitment process

Cons of including salary in your job ads

However, not everyone agrees that including salary in job ads is important and there are some potential disadvantages that you should be aware of.

“Lack of a thoughtful strategy when including salary in a job ad can jeopardise the recruitment process, and contribute to internal challenges within an organisation,” Stafford explains.

Some of the potential reasons to keep salary out of job ads include:

  • It can help provide some flexibility around salary for a very strong candidate
  • It maintains a level of confidentiality for both the successful candidate as well as existing employees
  • It can help broaden the talent pool by attracting the interest of curious job seekers

Lagman also states that displaying salary in job ads can “limit negotiation power and expose the company to potential competitive disadvantages.”

She cautions against listing salary in job ads without giving it due consideration, as it really is dependent on the circumstances.

“Applying a one-size-fits-all approach to salary ranges might lead to misunderstandings, discouraging high quality talent and upsetting current employees,” she says.

“Additionally, smaller companies with budget constraints may struggle to compete with larger corporations, impacting their ability to attract qualified talent.”

Making the right decision for your company

With all this said, how can you be sure what the best approach is for you and your company? Well, it all depends.

“There are scenarios that warrant consideration for each option,” Stafford says. “The suitability varies between organisations, positions, and specific recruitment processes.

“Bear in mind that the advertised salary isn’t necessarily the same as the position budget - it serves as a guide to communicate the desired level of skills, experience, and qualifications of the ideal candidate.”

Lagman adds that there are several factors to think about when making the decision right for you.

“Firstly, consider the company size, regional differences, and the competitiveness of the job sector,” she advises.

If you do decide against listing job salary, Lagman says there are other avenues to explore.

“Highlighting other benefits can help set you apart – particularly for small businesses with budget constraints competing against large corporations,” she says. “This could include details about your inclusive culture, flexible work arrangements, dog-friendly office, social and industry events, charity involvement, allowance for wellness programs and education, Summer Fridays, salary sacrifice, novated leasing, paid parental leave, and more.”

If you’re still unsure what’s the best option, Stafford encourages you to call on the resources around you.

“Seek advice from your talent acquisition or human resources partner to determine a suitable strategy to optimise salary advertising where appropriate,” he says.

And the bottom line? Whatever choice you make, stick to it, Lagman says.

“While flexibility is crucial, maintaining consistency across similar roles can provide fair and transparent approach to salary practices.”

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published Februrary 2024.

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