Salary in job advertisements – should you have it or not?

April 1 2021



Do you have a legally-binding responsibility to talk about the salary in a job advertisement? Regulations may vary depending on the country and local legislation but we can safely assume that the answer will be “no”. At least most of the time. Does the range of salary or a concrete sum impacts potential candidates and make them apply or not? Here the answer is “yes”. So, do you put it or not? What are the consequences? Let’s talk about arguments “for” and “against”.

Should salary be public?

It depends on who we ask, of course. In Poland, we have a saying that the point of view depends on the point from which you observe things.

From the potential employee’s point of view, it’s a great option, because he can quickly know if the company invests in people or not. For the person potentially interested in working for you, it’s always good to know if the firm has the policy of accepting market prices or does it pay less.

From the perspective of the current employee, this case can be strange. One person can be threatened because others will know how much does he or she makes a year (if salaries weren’t transparent before). Another person might be happy because thanks to the transparent policy, the company can attract professionals that will earn market rates.

From the owner’s or manager’s point of view, the situation is not easy at all. Sure, transparent salaries attract professionals, but at the same time competition knows what the company is up to and how much people are making. On the other hand, salary information can attract people with lower qualifications that believe they can make it. This will open the flood gates and spam email account for HR. There’s also a situation of expectations from already hired talents and needs to flatten earnings.

Personally, I would not overestimate the factor of competition. From my experience, companies are often fully aware of how much money people are making, they only look for confirmation. The question of openness is not only the case of market studies and looking for proof or knowledge inside the HR department. It’s also the knowledge of candidates themselves. They expect some level of compensation for the work and inform the company about it through the hiring process.

As we can see, it’s all complicated. Personally, I advocate for posting salary in job advertisements.

Posting monthly salaries is a codename for transparency

This shows that the company doesn’t have anything to hide. It shows candidates that the company invests in people and appreciates them. After all, it’s the people who make business happen, even in companies with highly developed automation. Someone has to set up these machines and configure them, keep them running. In smaller companies, people are the driving and sometimes the only factor that really matters.

There are many other concerns for the owners – people might have a bad opinion about the company when the salary is too low. The number of incoming CVs will be low and from people that really need a job, and not necessarily qualified. But let’s be honest – candidates says that they want a good atmosphere, room to grow, sometimes additional benefits, optimized internal processes for smooth performance. The most cherished thing is, however, money and it should not be surprising to anyone. I wouldn’t be worried about someone who has a clear vision about the salary; I would be worried about a person that talks about everything but the money. It can suggest that this person wants to charm you with personality, not necessarily with competencies.

Another thing is the pay scale. A lot of candidates see only the higher amount, and can’t or won’t objectively say anything about their own experience and skill. Sure, it happens regularly and someone who would make, let’s say, $800 a month, will do a lot to tip the scale and make, for example, $1,500 a month. But here HR specialists and managers should enter the stage and say something about real chances for that to happen.

Everything depends on human resources strategy and employer branding strategy. Are they implemented in your company?

Public salaries are the element of company’s strategy

Public or not, knowledge or lack thereof, impacts relations inside the company, its image, and financial results. I advocate for the holistic, integrated approach to all in-house processes. That means that every department is responsible for its share of the pie and has its own responsibilities. In reality, every employee works for two things: the company’s image and financial results.

A coherent human resources strategy and employer branding strategy, if implemented, positively impact the image. They show an employer as a person who is aware of a simple equation: people = business. You can always hire almost anyone for any position. Specialists, on the other hand, will always appropriately price their services. Hiring someone less prepared but with potential will almost always cost more than hiring someone experienced and knowledgeable. 

You need to train those less experienced. It takes time and it’s pricey. Someone you have to not only train this new hire but also prepare for the profession. It always depends on who can you find on a market. Mistakes of less experienced are also costly. Not to even mention the situation, where this person, when differences of opinion arrive, can take the company hostage for money or even post opinions online. This will negatively impact the brand. A specialist, at least theoretically, should be more restrained in these situations.

How others do it?

In some regions of the world, full transparency of salary is still a long way off. Countries have different legislation, cultural factors, local market conditions, etc. In Poland, for example, with the current legal status, there is no option for mandatory information about salary in job advertisements. Plus, there’s also a mentality and vision of owners and C-levels.

Making salaries public and making them public in advertisements are two different things. Some portals require public salaries and those that strongly encourage them. Sure, there are mostly specialists in marketing, and IT, and other relevant fields. These are the most wanted professions. In other areas, things are different.

It may look different but the future lies in transparency. This fuels recruitment processes, making them faster, more reliable, and stable. There’s smaller employee turnover, everybody’s happy. If you want to hire a junior, pay scales will show him that the company takes the recruitment process seriously and don’t overpromise anything. If you want a professional, pay scales will attract the right people. Without transparency, there’s sometimes hard to guess if it’s worth engaging in a recruitment process. Sometimes very long and inefficient.

Implement or not?

Putting salary in a job advertisement has its benefits and cons. It’s controversial and many owners should ask themselves what is the thing they value the most and what is the thing they are afraid of. Potential demands for raises or new specialists?

I believe that a company with healthy relations, developed internal processes, clearly stated goals and team spirit won’t have big problems with putting salary in job advertisements. This type of mindset requires team building. It’s the lack of team spirit and underdeveloped processes (also related to HR) causes problems. You can mitigate that with the introduction of a solid strategy.