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Over a third of job ads have hidden salaries

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Marketing and sales ads most likely to hide salary info

A recent study has revealed that more than a third of job ads (35%) do not disclose the salary on offer. Phrases such as “competitive salary” or “depending on experience are common.

Salary is key in helping a candidate decide whether to apply for or take a job. Despite this, an analysis of over 6,000 job listings across roles in Finance, Sales, HR, IT, Marketing, and Operations found that 2,130 ads had hidden salary info.

The study by HR and leadership publication People Managing People showed that ads for marketing roles are least likely to disclose salaries (41%), followed by sales and operations roles (35%). Ads for IT roles were more transparent, at 27%, as were ads for HR professional roles, at 29%, failing to disclose salary details.

In terms of roles, the highest rates of salary non-disclosure were found in job ads for senior and C-suite positions:

  • Chief Technology Officer (81%)
  • Chief Marketing Officer (71%)
  • Sales Director (59%)
  • Operations Director (58%)

The research also found that job ads in the UK were 57% more likely to have undisclosed salaries for roles than in the U.S. Interestingly, IT roles in the UK were more likely to have salary information than in the U.S. Of the roles studied, 66% had no salary disclosed, followed by finance roles (61%) and operations (56%).

Why are salaries hidden? According to Finn Bartram, Editor at People Managing People, it offers businesses more negotiating power to agree on a salary in the later stages of the recruitment process once they understand the candidate’s expectations and circumstances.

Hidden salaries also provide a competitive advantage in that they stop other similar businesses from knowing how much they are offering for a role and outbidding them to attract talent.

Employers also say that publicising salary information causes resentment and results in demands for pay rises from their existing workforce if their salary doesn’t fairly compare to what is offered to recruits.

It may also create resentment when candidates accept a job offer if they know they have been given a salary at the lower end of the advertised pay scale.

The hidden salary approach comes at a risk. In the current job market, which is skewed in the candidate’s favour, vacancies are taking longer to fill, and gaps are widening. This means employers are at risk of missing out on talent or narrowing the type of applications they receive.

Research has shown that the pay gap – for women and minorities – stems from the ‘ask gap’ – the difference in what different groups expect when it comes to salary and how likely they are to get a raise if they ask for one. According to a recent YouGov survey, of the 40% of adults who asked for a pay rise, just over a quarter secured one.

Pay transparency goes a long way to building trust within a workforce, meaning lower turnover rates and greater performance gains. Societal pressures are growing to build transparency, promote truth, and close inequalities, so organisations opting for hidden salaries may need to rethink their strategies.

Christine Brotherston, HR and Operations Director at TALiNT Partners commented: “We know candidates are more likely to apply for jobs where an indicative salary is given. Employers need to make compensation discussions part of the hiring process from the start to be clear about the candidates circumstances and to communicate what criteria will inform their final offer. Hiring managers need to be upfront with existing employees and be prepared to discuss and justify. Existing employees will usually understand there will be a difference, too wide a gap though will always need to be looked at, otherwise there will just be another vacancy to fill soon.


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