October 19, 2021
December 7, 2021

Salaries: Should They Be Included in Job Descriptions?

Lewis Mc Cahill

As an embedded recruitment firm, the ACELR8 team works with a wide range of clients from a variety of industries. Despite this variety, there are many common themes that arise in creating a solid hiring strategy. One of the most well-worn paths is the discussion of salaries. Should salaries be mentioned in job descriptions? Should it be left to the interview stage? Or, should they even be mentioned at all until the offer stage? 

To find out more about this issue, I talked to our Talent Partners to find out where they stand. The first question I asked was: 

“Do you think salaries should be disclosed in job descriptions?”

As you can see, it’s a controversial topic. A third of our Talent Partners maintain that salaries should be left until later in the hiring process, while twice as many people believe the opposite. 

To learn more about people’s reasonings behind this opinion, I asked them some more in-depth questions. First, let’s start with the majority, and find out why many of our Talent Partners believe salaries should be disclosed in job descriptions. 

Transparency & Cohesion: The Argument For 

“Because I believe that transparency in hiring is the most important value. I believe that if we are hiding the salary, we know we pay less than we should or we are not transparent internally. Also, it may be that people in the company earn less than we are now offering to the new candidates. It happens very often that companies undervalue their employees and then stakeholders don't want them to know how much money the new hires will earn.”

Transparency is a vital aspect of a well-run business. If everyone is on the same page and respects each other, the culture of the company will undoubtedly improve. By disclosing the salary at the very beginning of the process, you start off on the right track. As said above, this not only allows the potential hire to understand their financial position, it can also give current employees an insight into the salary structure of the company. 

It is also an excellent time-saver, for both the client and candidate. It often happens that salaries are not disclosed until a later date, and the candidate finds that the salary is much lower than their expectations. Not only does this lead to a negative experience for the candidate, leading to them not pursuing the job any further, it also wastes time for the hiring team. By presenting the salary bracket front and centre, both parties can be on the same page from the beginning. 

Moving With The Times 

Another important factor to take into consideration is that approaches and attitudes to disclosing salaries have changed considerably in recent years. Jonathan, one of our Talent Partners explains it well: 

“It's something of an archaic taboo in my view - the idea of discussing salary or remuneration packages for my parents' generation is unthinkable. Pay is often tied in with feelings of self-worth, so to openly discuss it manifests as either an ego boost or feeling undervalued. The less salary was talked about, the more shadowy and uncouth any talk of it became.
What has happened is people no longer have any real grasp of salary banding from industry to industry or role to role. The only people who know what the correct salary expectations are broadly, are recruiters. People generally have no idea whether they are under or overpaid...who can they compare to? Where could they get this information from?
If salaries, stock options etc were openly disclosed, people would then have a critical piece of intelligence required to make important career decisions. We would all be able to clearly see what is happening in the marketplace. It would also oust any disparities on account of gender, age, race or religion.
Transparency on this has a whole host of benefits (of course there will be downsides too). People can be open and honest with employers about saving for the future, retirement or choosing a career that fulfils them in the best way without being quietly neglected financially.”

These are some excellent points that lead to a much larger issue of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Pay gaps are a common thing within companies, either through unintentional mistakes or clear biases. By creating a more transparent salary structure, everyone, including outside candidates, gets a better understanding of their financial self-worth. 

In all, disclosing salary expectations allows for a level playing field and a transparent hiring process that ensures that time is not wasted and equal opportunities, both internally and externally, can be achieved. 

However, the argument against can be just as compelling.

Competitors and Clarity: The Argument Against 

“I think companies have much more than a salary to offer. As a remote work policy, stock option, different benefits. It's a complicated topic because I also see a potential benefit in having the salary on the job description”

The modern company has to offer more than just a good salary. Remote-first working, equity options, and a whole host of other benefits can be just as important to potential hires. For example, an early-stage startup will not be able to compete with an established company for talent due to its lack of resources. However, incentives such as equity, bonuses, and remote work can level the playing field. Disclosing the salary may skew the candidate’s impression of the full value of the position. 

Another Talent Partner gave me three excellent reasons why disclosing the salary may be a problematic issue: 

“1. The salary can put people off of applying if it is too low or below current salaries. Then, the company also gets a reputation in the market for underpaying. Also, the salary could be negotiable or have a very wide range based on experience.
2. It can encourage juniors or unqualified people to apply to more senior roles if they are attracted just by salary and the bands are too high.
3. It can run into situations at the end of a process if you offer 80k but the candidate saw the band pays up to 90k. This makes it hard to close as they will ask for the top of the band listed stating ‘I know you can pay it.’”

Overall, disclosing the salary puts the ball in the court of the candidate. It can lead to a glut of unsuitable candidates applying for the role, can affect the reputation of the company, and can also make closing significantly more difficult. 

Overall, however, the best way of avoiding this is by having an earnest discussion with the hiring team to find out the real salary band. Including a high figure in the job description can certainly attract excellent candidates, but the company has to be able to offer that at the end-stage. 

Another issue that may arise is that competing companies will see your offered salary and now know the benchmark for out-offering you. Disclosing all your cards early in the game certainly gives the other players an advantage, but it also helps you not to waste time with candidates who are unsuitable for the role. 

There is also the issue of under-offering. If a company discloses their salary offer in the job description and it is much lower than the expected amount desired by the candidate, they won’t bother applying for the job. However, many companies are open to pushing their budgets a little further for real star talent. Therefore, by disclosing their salary offers, the company may sometimes lose out on hiring the best talent for the job.

In all of these situations, it’s important to remember to take things on a case-by-case basis. Every employer is different, and one rule does not apply to all. Take the time to understand what your client or company really needs, and approach the salary dilemma from there. 

The other aspect of the salary issue comes into what we’ve discussed previously: salary trends are changing fast. 

2021 has been one of the most influential years in hiring trends, communication methods, and work environments. A large population of the world had to change their work habits, and so they have become used to a certain style of employment. 

Now, many people are leaving their old jobs which do not adhere to their desired lifestyle, creating a boom in candidates and clients vying for position. This has led to a wide series of changes, one of those in the world of salaries and salary estimates. Again, I asked our experienced talent partners what they thought on the matter. 

Future Predictions: Salary Trends in 2022

“Aside from a competitive salary, companies need to offer competitive benefits to stay ahead. These can include remote work, hybrid, flexi-work, company equity, family days/additional sick days, mental health days, remote office set up allowance, learning and development budget and room for career growth.” 

As we mentioned above, salary is not the one carrot which you can use to lead a great candidate into your company. After Covid, people have higher expectations for work-life balance and the availability of remote work. Now, you can gain an advantage over your competitors by moving with the times. By creating a progressive offering and work environment, you can attract exceptional talent that is looking for those freedoms and benefits. 

Another issue in regards to the remotization of work is the problem of salaries. Hiring has gone global - candidates that would have no chance of getting a role with a German company can now safely bet on their consideration. With that in mind, salary trends now need to be gauged on a global scale, not just regionally. One of our Talent Partners explains it here: 

A thing I have noticed is that as remote work soars, candidates who are working remotely for San Fransisco/Silicon Valley start-ups are getting paid San Francisco salaries and they then will expect this level of compensation in Europe.”

Now, when you’re hiring, you have the entire globe as a talent pool. But, at the same time, candidates can now choose from a much larger pool of potential companies, leading to competitive salaries and opportunities. This issue is only going to become more widespread as time goes on. The world is more interconnected than ever before, and it is up to you to learn how to adjust your hiring strategy to counteract this. 

Choose Wisely

In the end, the choice of whether to disclose the salary or not is up to you and your hiring team. But, hopefully, this article has helped to shed some light on the pros and cons of each situation.

A high salary posting can certainly attract excellent candidates, but it’s important to ensure you can foot the bill when it comes to the offer stage. Additionally, the only way of maintaining this appraisal is to create a transparent salary structure throughout your company. This avoids issues of unfair pay, employee morale problems, and general miscommunication. 

When it comes to keeping your cards close and not mentioning the salary, make sure that you are replacing it with something else. Excellent candidates will only respond to well-thought-out and attractive job descriptions. Promote your company values and ambitions to entice top talent into the application process before they even think of the salary. Again, in the modern world of recruitment, salary is not everything; other benefits can become even more important to candidates - especially issues such as remote working or flexible hours. 

If you’re looking for advice on how to hire remotely or how to present your open position in the best possible way, reach out to us. Or, feel free to read through our extensive playbooks to help you hire better in a quickly changing environment. 

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