5 Things to Consider About Listing a Salary Range in a Job Ad

hands reaching for money

When you advertise a job opening, should you include the position’s salary range? While there is no right or wrong answer, there are pros and cons to salary disclosure in a job ad. Here are five things to consider:

1. Salary range disclosure may affect the number and quality of applicants

If you are offering an attractive salary, you may be bombarded with applicants. Everyone wants a position that pays well, and your announcement will be forwarded and shared with others (“Hey Jane, have you seen this job ad?”). Generally speaking, the more applications you receive, the better the chances that you will find qualified candidates.

But you may also receive resumes from people who are not close to being qualified for the position. Candidates receive advice from a variety of sources, and are sometimes told, “Qualified or not, just go for it! What do you have to lose?” As a result, attempting to locate the right person may be comparable to trying to find a needle in a haystack.

If you disclose the salary range, and it’s not competitive, be advised some of the best candidates will not bother to apply. You will never get the opportunity to sell them on how great your organization is or discuss the appealing non-financial perks and benefits you offer.

Learn about resume red flags you should watch out for.

2. Salary range disclosure may set unrealistic expectations

At first glance, this may seem like a no-brainer. Of course you want to set expectations! In fact, that’s why you’re disclosing the salary. But consider the following two scenarios:

  • The applicants are not impressive. Your salary range may be for candidates who meet the desired qualifications, such as an advanced degree, specific certifications or extensive experience. But as applications come in, you may discover that the pool consists of people who barely meet the minimum requirements.
  • Candidates overestimate their qualifications. Since you’ve likely listed the salary as a range, even marginally qualified people may consider themselves to be deserving of the maximum salary, or at least an amount on the higher end. If they find out that you are offering a salary near the bottom of the range, they may react negatively.  

Both of these situations could have a much better outcome if the candidates never knew the salary range.

3. Salary range disclosure may cause rifts internally

Tread carefully when deciding to disclose the salary range if your organization does not have an open-salary policy. Your current employees may be offended if they find out you are paying a new worker a salary that is comparable with or even more than what they currently earn. You may have legitimate reasons for doing this, but that does not mean your employees will understand or appreciate the decision. And that could hurt your employee retention efforts.

Learn how to tell if you’re losing a top performer.

4. Salary range disclosure may give the competition a heads-up

When you choose to disclose a salary range, you may be providing valuable information to the competition. Knowing what your company offers can help them with their recruiting efforts. By offering just a little more, a competitor may be able to woo potential candidates away from you — especially if your range is on the low end.  

5. Non-disclosure may waste everyone’s time

A long hiring process can be a headache. And when you fail to disclose the salary range early on, you may find out late in the game that your top candidates are not interested — and now frustrated. Likewise, your company will have wasted valuable time assessing information, arranging or conducting job interviews, and performing other hiring-related tasks, only to find out that these individuals will not agree to your terms.

The decision to disclose the salary range in a job ad may positively or negatively affect the number of qualified job applicants and their expectations. It may also affect employee morale, the recruitment team’s workload, and the level of competitiveness between you and similar organizations. Carefully weighing the pros and cons will help you make the best decision for the candidate and your company.  

Developing a salary range? Check out our Salary Guides. Robert Half provides comprehensive data on average starting salaries for accounting and finance, administrative, technology, legal, and creative professionals.

More posts on hiring and salary ranges