There has been a lot of discussion about salary range data over the past couple of years. Laws preventing employers from asking a candidate’s salary history continue to be added around the USA. New laws are emerging requiring employers to publish salary information in their job postings. This issue isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, especially as legislators and employers work to increase transparency and eliminate discriminatory pay gaps. I am firmly in the camp of “salary should be disclosed up front” and here are some of the reasons why:
- Not all candidates are skilled negotiators, or working with a recruiter who can negotiate on their behalf. It’s easy to blame a candidate for being a poor negotiator, but if they didn’t realize they were underpaid (so any increase seems great), or they don’t understand the current labor market, they might not know to ask for something different. Other candidates (often women) never even learn how to negotiate.
- Candidates don’t have access to reliable, current salary data. They don’t know what an accurate salary range is. They don’t know all the other variables that go into total compensation. If they don’t know these things, they aren’t in a position to evaluate if an offer is fair.
- Employees don’t discuss compensation with each other. Some companies prohibit this (although it is changing due to new legislation). Other employees simply don’t discuss their personal financial matters with others. For many people, their salary is deeply private and being asked how much they earn is offensive.
- Candidates don’t know market rates in a new geography. Someone living in St. Louis doesn’t know the cost of living in Houston or San Diego or Boston and how that impacts salaries. And yes, there are websites that offer this data. It’s often expensive to access, provided on a voluntary basis (so expensive cities opt out), or not current data. So while it’s a starting point, it’s not necessarily accurate.
Here’s the thing: employers have a budget and know what that is. They should disclose the salary range in the job posting. Disclosing the pay range up front eliminates wasted time and hard feelings – there is simply no point in bringing a candidate in for multiple interviews only to discover at the offer stage that the available salary is lower than the candidate’s current pay. Furthermore, a below-market offer, while it may get accepted, will lead to higher turnover as good candidates leave for better-paying opportunities.