Disclaimer: I like and respect the opinions and writings of Bob Corlett on his blog, The Staffing Advisor. I believe Corlett has tremendous insight and experience combined with a talent for writing succinct, pithy, and relevant content (and here’s the impending ‘BUT’), but I couldn’t disagree more with is perspective on whether or not to disclose salary range to candidates in his recent post: What’s the Salary Range for that Position? « The Staffing Advisor.
In my experience, the balance of pro’s and con’s in the decision to not disclose salary range up front weighs heavily towards the con’s. In fact, I truly believe that the value of the time wasted speaking with candidates who’s compensation expectations and needs were completely off base with the position could quite literally be the difference between hiring an FTE to screen candidates and hiring a temp.
Here’s what I’ve found are the benefits of not disclosing salary range:
- You’ll find a gem that is willing to take less than the range you’re expecting to pay (guessing this happens about once per 50+ positions you fill).
- You may find someone willing to accept less once they hear about the benefits and perks of the job (commute, flex time, etc).
- You may attract people who would not have applied had they known the salary range, giving you the opportunity to “sell” them on the job fit (though this will often turn into a voluntary separation as soon as the employee finds another company willing to pay what they are looking for).
- Your applicants will be more likely to be motivated by the job/employer than by the pay. (This is a very good point and one I can’t argue with- finding people who truly want to work for your organization, and not just looking for a payday is invaluable.
And while Corlett asserts:
Talking about salary up front is like specifying the requirements for your engagement ring on a first date – it gets in the way of the real priority – deciding if you should be in a relationship.
I can’t help but think about the negatives of choosing not to disclose the range:
- You’ll spend hours for each open req screening resumes of applicants who are severly below the level of the job, but thought that their entry level experience would match up (they had no idea they were applying for a $125k job when they responded to the Client Services Director position).
- You’ll spend hours for each open req screening resumes of applicants who simply cannot afford to take the pay that you are offering (hey, everyone I know has either rent or a mortgage, a car payment, health insurance needs, hobbies to support, and utilities to pay- not too many are going to downsize their living conditions to take a new job).
- You’ll spend potentially weeks engaged with a candidate that may ultimately walk away because of the salary range, thereby substantially extending the time the job is vacant.
Disclosing a Salary Range Can Increase Employee Engagement and Tenure
Aside from those pro’s and con’s, I also feel that the omission of a salary range up front prevents you from having a meaningful and important conversation with your candidate. I’ve heard the complaint by hiring managers and recruiters that if a salary range is posted at $75k to $95k, then everyone will come in expecting the $95k to start. I’d say that’s a good thing!
Would you want to hire someone who sat across from you in an interview and said “Well, I know that your salary range is up to $95k, but I really don’t think I’m worth that, so I would be willing to take $75k”?
Here’s the opportunity: At this stage, you have a chance to talk about why you would not be willing to start the candidate at $95k, and what they can do to earn higher pay within your company over time. This is a golden chance to provide the keys to success and a roadmap for the candidate that shows them what they need to do to get what they want from your company. In my experience, this increases the engagement and productivity immediately of new hires, and creates a sense of patience and dedication that is otherwise missing. The alternative is that you pay the candidate the $75k in base without disclosing the range, and then once they start, they learn that the salary range for that role is up to $95k, and they feel that they’ve been shortchanged. This is a recipe for high turnover, as your new hires continue to seek out other employment who will pay them what they believe they’re worth.