NEWS + ADVICE
The Power of Pay Transparency: Why You Should Post Salary Ranges on Job Descriptions
The inclusion of salary ranges in job postings has picked up steam in recent years, as transparency has become increasingly important to candidates. Posting salary ranges not only complies with legal requirements in certain locations, but it also fosters pay equity, enhances the candidate experience, and boosts an employer’s overall competitiveness in the recruitment game.
If the bulk of your job postings don’t include pay ranges already, be sure to read on to understand the benefits and how you can share pay ranges successfully.
The Shift Towards Pay Transparency
We surveyed cleared employers, asking if they state pay ranges on job postings when not required by law. Of the respondents, 40% stated they include pay ranges on all positions, while an additional 20% indicated doing so for some positions. However, 40% refrain from providing salary information in job postings.
Fortune reported similar findings, revealing “the number of U.S. job postings that include salary information more than doubled between February 2020 and February 2023, from 18.4% to 43.7%.1”
In an episode of our podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who’s Hiring and How, Bill Branstetter, Senior Director of Recruiting at 9th Way Insignia, explained, “The sentiment has shifted in the job seeker community, where if you post the salary range on the job description, then all of a sudden you’re the hero, right? You’re transparent. You’re not trying to hide anything. If you don’t, then maybe you’re not a great company to work for. What are you hiding from me? Why aren’t you posting this?”
“And I think everybody’s tired of the compensation conversation that looks like, ‘hey, what do you want to make?’,” suggests Branstetter. “That candidate is then put in a position where if I name a number, and it’s too high, then I’m going to miss out on the job. And if I name it, and it’s too low, then I’m leaving money on the table. Posting that compensation range on the job description cuts some of that out.”
The insights shared by Branstetter highlight some of the reasons behind the shift towards pay transparency. The traditional compensation conversation that puts candidates in a difficult position of negotiating their desired salary has become tiresome.
Pay transparency laws that require employers to provide pay ranges in various states (including states with large cleared populations such as California, Colorado, and Maryland) have helped employers come to realize that pulling back the curtain in this way is not the end of the world. In fact, by posting a clear compensation range on job descriptions, employers alleviate the stress and uncertainty surrounding salary discussions, creating a more equitable and efficient hiring process.
Posting Salary Ranges is Mutually Beneficial
Promoting pay equity and fostering a fair work environment are just a few of the compelling reasons for employers to embrace pay transparency. Such transparency addresses the wage gap issue and promotes equal opportunity within organizations. When employers openly state salary ranges, they send a clear message to potential candidates that they value transparency and fairness in compensation practices. By fostering a culture of transparency, employers build trust and credibility, positioning themselves as desirable employers of choice.
In addition to promoting pay equity, pay transparency significantly enhances an employer’s recruitment efforts. A recent Lighthouse Research & Advisory report ranked “knowing the starting hourly rate or salary for the position I’m applying for” as the top priority for candidate’s today2. By providing salary information upfront, employers meet this expectation and create a positive candidate experience.
This level of transparency helps employers attract a larger pool of motivated and qualified candidates who are more likely to engage with their job postings. By including salary ranges in job postings, employers filter out individuals who may have unrealistic salary expectations or who may not align with the compensation offered. This targeted approach saves valuable time and resources during the recruitment process, also reducing advertising costs and increasing application rates.
When candidates have a clear understanding of the salary range associated with a position, they are more likely to apply. In fact, candidates are five times more likely to click on a job posting featuring a clear pay range according to Lighthouse Research & Advisory. Additionally, when shown two job postings, the one with a clear pay range was preferred 85% of the time3.
Overcoming Hesitations and Getting Started
Despite the advantages of pay transparency, some employers may still hesitate to include salary ranges in their job descriptions. Employers may have concerns about internal pay equity, external competition, or negotiation tactics. However, overcoming these hesitations is crucial to embracing pay transparency.
A good place to start is to evaluate internal pay equity. This means looking at the pay of current employees to ensure that new hires are compensated fairly in relation to existing staff. “Inflation happens,” admits Dee Brown, Talent Acquisition Lead with CNA Corporation, in an episode of Security Cleared Jobs: Who’s Hiring and How. “If we bring in somebody new that’s doing the same role as somebody who’s been here for five years, we look at, here’s the market and here’s what our equity is.”
“How do we make sure that these people that are similar in background, as far as education/experience, are getting paid the same way?,” asks Brown. “Are we bringing that new person in higher? Okay, then that means we need to adjust our current employees to match that. So we really think about that all together.”
In regards to employers worrying they’ll lose negotiation power with candidates, sharing a salary range vs an exact figure mitigates that risk. Posting wider salary ranges allows for flexibility during negotiations, while still providing transparency and giving candidates a clear understanding of the potential compensation.
Alongside salary ranges, continue to highlight additional benefits and growth opportunities offered within your organization. This ensures that candidates understand the full value of the position beyond just the salary, making the opportunity more attractive, even if the salary falls within the lower end of the posted range.
If you’re ready to send a powerful message that you value employees and are committed to fair compensation practices, strive to share salary ranges on your job postings whenever possible, not just when legally required. Pay transparency will ultimately help you stand out in the competitive talent market, strengthening your employer brand and positioning your company as an employer of choice for cleared professionals.