Should You Include Salary Ranges on Job Postings?

6 min read
Apr 28, 2022 6:00:00 AM

Less than one-third (29%) of job openings in the United States disclose salary information. This varies widely by location and industry. For example, 72% of jobs have posted salary ranges in Colorado Springs, though only 12% do in New York City. And 76% of jobs in the personal service sector list a salary range, while only 16% of jobs in the technology industry do the same.

If you’re wondering whether your company should include salary ranges on job postings, read on for the pros and cons, and to learn more about pay transparency laws that may apply.

You may legally need to disclose salary information

New York City recently joined Colorado in enacting a pay transparency law that requires employers to disclose salary information on job postings. Here’s a high-level overview of what you should know.

New York City’s Salary Transparency Law

Employers advertising jobs must include a salary range for every job, promotion, or transfer opportunity that can or will be performed in New York City. This begins May 15, 2022, and applies to employers with four or more employees (including independent contractors) if at least one of those employees works in New York City. Employers who fail to comply may be fined up to $250,000. 

Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

Employers must disclose compensation and benefits information in job postings for jobs that can or will be performed in Colorado. This includes pay rates or ranges, bonuses, commissions, health care benefits, retirement benefits, paid time off, or any other forms of compensation or employment benefits being offered. The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect on January 1, 2021 and applies to all entities with at least one employee in Colorado.

Other pay transparency laws to know

Other local and state laws require employers to provide salary ranges under various circumstances. For example, California AB-168 requires that employers share a salary range with candidates if they request it. Employers in Nevada must provide a wage or salary range to candidates who have completed an interview, as well as current employees in certain cases of a promotion or transfer. Employers in Cincinnati must provide the salary range for a position after an applicant has been provided a conditional offer of employment.

If your company is subject to these laws, make sure you have salary ranges prepared to share with candidates as needed.

5 reasons to include a salary range on job postings

Even if you aren’t legally required to share your pay grade in a job posting—or at all—there are some reasons you may still choose to do so.

  1. Increase pay transparency. Pay transparency is a spectrum. At a minimum, your employees know what they earn. Some companies go so far as to publicly share what every employee earns. Sharing salary ranges on job postings falls somewhere in the middle, and may be a way to increase pay transparency and trust at your organization.
  2. Improve pay equity. Openly sharing salary ranges on job postings allows candidates and employees to see how their offer or compensation stack up to the minimum and maximum salary for a given role. This can hold employers more accountable to fair pay practices and open the door to better communication, improving pay equity.
  3. Attract talent. Compensation is the top reason workers left their jobs in 2021. Including your pay range on a job posting can help you attract candidates whose salary expectations align with your budget.
  4. Save time. It can be disappointing to find, interview, and offer employment to a great candidate, only to have them decline your offer due to compensation. When you include your salary range on job postings, candidates can self-select out if your range doesn’t meet their expectations. This will save your team time from screening and interviewing candidates you can’t win.
  5. Share correct information. Candidates can easily find salary estimates for your jobs on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, but they may be outdated or inaccurate. Salaries are quickly rising, and sharing an updated range based on current market data will likely be more enticing than salary estimates based on old data.

5 potential drawbacks to including a salary range on job postings

While there are many good reasons to include salary data on job postings, there are some potential downsides that may hold employers back.

  1. Candidates may expect the high end of your range. If you post a salary range, it’s possible that job seekers will only pay attention to one number: the maximum. This can lead to disappointment or resentment if your offer comes in lower.
  2. Ranges vary for remote roles. It can be difficult to create realistic salary ranges for remote roles if you use local market compensation rates. For example, the salary range for a given role might be $80,000-100,000 in San Francisco, California, while it’s $50,000-63,000 in Peoria, Illinois. That’s a wide range to include, and candidates in areas with a lower cost of market are more likely to be disappointed in offers they receive.
  3. Competitors have ammunition to poach. A publicly listed salary range is an indication of what you pay your employees, making it easier for competitors to pinpoint an offer that might lure your employees away. Similarly, public ranges show your competitors what they may need to offer in order to win candidates in a shared talent pool. This can inflate wages as companies try to out-compete one another.
  4. Conflict with current employees. Disclosing what you’re willing to pay a new employee may cause conflict with your current employees if they believe they’re being paid unfairly. This is more likely to happen if you’ve increased your salary ranges to align with current market data and close more candidates, but failed to address compensation for current employees. 
  5. Low ranges repel great candidates. There may be cases where an employee could earn more than a planned salary range. For example, if a 10x candidate came along, you may decide to offer them the role with a salary range reserved for exceptional or luminary talent. Or if you have a performance-based compensation structure, your base salary range may be much lower than your expected total compensation. In these cases, adding a salary range to your job postings might dissuade great candidates from applying.

Best practices for including salary ranges on job postings

If you’d like to share salary ranges on your job postings, here’s how to get the most benefit with the least downside.

  1. Be mindful of local regulations. If your company is subject to a local pay transparency law, it’s going to be in your best interest to follow it. Regulations around employee compensation change regularly, so stay on top of them to ensure you remain in compliance. 
  2. Consider setting a hiring range that is  a subset of your employee lifecycle total range. New employees are generally offered a starting salary in the low- to mid-range so there will be room for future salary increases. Rather than posting your full internal salary range, share a subset of it to indicate an expected hiring range. This can help you set more realistic expectations with candidates around your maximum offer.
  3. Include total compensation and employee benefits. Your base salary range may not reflect actual earnings, and most job seekers aren’t solely motivated by compensation. Include other forms of compensation and employee benefits, such as health benefits, commissions, bonuses, and stock options. It’s also a good idea to mention remote work, flex hours, or a reduced work week if you offer them, as many job seekers are particularly interested in flexible work arrangements.
  4. Make sure your posted salary ranges align with current employee compensation. Market compensation rates are rising quickly and you may find that you need to revisit your salary ranges in order to attract talent. If there’s a misalignment, make sure you also address current employee salaries in order to avoid salary compression and dissatisfaction on your team.
  5. Communicate about your compensation strategy with candidates. When you present an offer, tell the candidate a bit about how your compensation strategy works, why they are being offered a given starting salary, and what they can do to earn more. This demonstrates your commitment to fair pay, and helps build trust.

Final thoughts: should you include salary ranges on job postings?

Some organizations are required to include salary ranges on job postings per local regulations. In that case, yes—you should include salary ranges on job postings. 

Everyone else will need to decide what’s best for their company. Weigh the pros and cons, and lean on your company values to make a choice. You may even decide to experiment with adding pay ranges to your job postings for a short time to see how it impacts your company for better or worse.

And, as always, communicate any changes with your current team members so they know what you’re trying to accomplish, and why. Great communication can overcome so many of the challenges employers face around compensation and is a key part of an effective compensation strategy.

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