Job descriptions (JDs) with salary data growth percentage
Data pulled from US job descriptions with salary data growth trend over time from Claro Analytics
As of this post’s publication, eight states in the US now require some form of pay transparency during the hiring process. Currently, laws disclosing pay ranges during the hiring process include Colorado, California, Rhode Island, New York, Nevada, Maryland, Connecticut and Washington. In June 2022, New York joined, requiring job posters to list a salary range if a candidate will be working in the state (remotely or otherwise). And now, more recently, a new bill introduced in California is requiring job postings to list salary ranges from the beginning of 2023.
At first, it may sound limiting to include pay ranges on job postings. In practice, however, only a few of those state laws require pay to be specifically included in the posting. Instead, many only require employers to disclose salary ranges if an applicant asks. Organizations that may have perceived this as a drawback to hiring talent years ago may start considering this an opportunity to promote values such as transparency and equity from the very start of the candidate journey.
As an employer, there are ways to attract the right talent with a great culture, transparency, upskilling and requesting ongoing feedback around what your employees want. Here’s why pay transparency is actually a good thing in the grand scheme of recruiting, especially when it comes to differentiating your company from its competitors.
Pros and cons of salary transparency in the recruitment world
Better candidate matches from the start
Helps address unconscious bias in hiring
Fewer matches per job if the expected salary range isn’t listed
It could hurt promotion potential for women, as invisible gender discrepancy pay gaps often exist
Employers may post wider salary ranges to encourage negotiation, which could slow time-to-hire
What is pay transparency?
Pay transparency can mean different things depending on the spectrum and perspective your organization has. Generally, the definition of pay transparency is the act of companies being open about compensation for both current employees and candidates. Not all organizations abide by this exactly — some may only disclose on job postings, or to employees if they ask (depending on state legalities as previously mentioned).
But the larger movement around this and its benefits help employees understand where they fit in your pay range and how compensation functions in your organization. Better transparency and visibility into these processes generally encourage more openness to minimize bias.
Transparency breeds trust from jobseekers
The pay transparency movement will cut time to hire and establish expectations early — without undergoing the entire interview process and then finding out the compensation is not in line with what a candidate is looking for. Of course, other factors are equally important to be transparent about, including total rewards and perks outside of salary such as unlimited PTO.
Research shows, after all, that compensation is not the number one driver of candidate behavior today — flexibility is. 55% of workers surveyed prioritized flexibility compared to 52% of respondents citing higher pay as being more important according to a 2022 Bankrate survey.
Your recruiters may not talk about salary during the interview process, but most jobseekers have already scoured job sites for salary information way before they hit “apply.” Glassdoor, Indeed, Payscale and Comparably all have the option for employees to list their salaries and leave reviews. In one of the most turbulent job markets in history, being upfront and authentic about what you’re offering will boost your employment brand and attract like-minded individuals to your business.
Showing a pay range really isn't as scary as most employers think. While some naysay it as bad business, others praise the visibility and resulting pay equity. Our eyes are continually opened to the pay gaps that persist with underserved individuals — and it’s our job collectively to take the necessary steps to audit and adjust.
This is becoming a larger conversation not only in the US but globally as well. In APAC — particularly Japan — there have been higher demand spikes for certain jobs and expectations around salary are being brought up by candidates from the outset.
The interconnectedness of the world is propelling more normalized and constructive conversations around this topic. So, if you’re an employer solely in one region, you’re not immune to having these conversations, either! They’re happening more and more in this hyper-competitive job market.
Stop competing and differentiate instead
As a small or medium-sized business that can’t compete with the bigger salaries offered by large companies, my advice here is — don’t! There are other ways you can be competitive, and with an effective employment brand and great culture, you’ll still attract great talent that shares your company values. This starts with having an engaging culture and leaning into total rewards. Summer hours, unlimited PTO, work-life balance, work-from-anywhere, temporary relocation perks, well-being programs, flexibility, career development and comprehensive learning & development programs are all ways you can entice top talent from bigger corporations that may be lacking in culture.
This is exactly why salary benchmarking is so important. If you can’t offer high compensation for a position, it’s important to see if you can:
Make it a more junior position (fewer years of experience required)
Evaluate whether the salary is market value – for years of experience or high demand for fewer skills, know you'll need to pay more!
Arrange the job duties as needed to meet your needs on a lower budget
Consider beefing up your internships and early career programs or career transition programs to bring talent into your business that you can train, or help those with considerable work experience transition their skills into a new area.
How to write a compelling job description
When putting your thinking cap on around recruitment marketing and how you present your company to jobseekers, one of the major touchpoints is in the job description. Whether you choose to disclose a salary range or not (something to consider so long as it aligns with your company’s practices), it’s always valuable to periodically review your job descriptions and update them to accurately reflect your employee value proposition:
Be strategic with the right title (SEO and market research can help with this!)
Be upfront about remote vs hybrid vs in-person roles
Include easy-to-digest job duties (people skim; don’t go on and on!)
Spotlight perks and total rewards, especially those that differentiate you from your competitors
Be clear about who you want in the position (including skillsets, software competency, etc.)
Detail your corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, as this is a key driver for younger generations and where they choose to work
Use concise, inclusive language (try Gender Decoder to find any potential bias in your job ads)
Be an early adopter of salary transparency and win
Your organization being proactive and embracing salary transparency may very well become a nationwide expectation in the US. It's already become a standard for any nationwide remote jobs thanks to Colorado’s law, so it’s only a matter of time before this continues to spread. Be an early adopter and demonstrate the value through communicating authentically with jobseekers and you’ll be well on your way to attracting great talent for now and the future.
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Marisol Hughes, executive vice president of people operations and general counsel, oversees WilsonHCG’s people and culture function and serves as the company’s chief legal advisor. She is an astute legal professional with a strong background in people and culture strategy. Her broad expertise includes corporate law, employment discrimination, and governance and civil litigation. She is an active member of the Florida Bar Association, and has been honored with the Labor and Employment Law Section Dean Gary W. Vause Award as well as being named a Tampa Bay Business Journal Top Corporate Counsel finalist. She holds a Juris Doctor degree and an MBA.