Recruitment Salary Etiquette – Why is Salary Info Not Included in Job Adverts?

Why is salary info not included in job adverts? 🤨💰

It’s a question posed by many a candidate and a question that many recruiters don’t know the answer to.

At AdBuilder, we created our job advert building platform to make life easier for recruiters.

But even with the template nailed and consistent quality delivered, there are still unavoidable decisions for your agency to make.

Decisions like:

Should we push to get salary info included in this ad?

If not, why?

If yes, why?

Hopefully, this blog should tell you everything you need to know about recruitment salary etiquette, giving you all the info required to make a case to your clients…


Why Is Salary Info Not Included in Job Adverts?

“In traditional corporate environments, the salary is often hidden because it’s a game of cat and mouse trying to figure out what salary the candidate is currently on, what they’re expecting, and what the company is willing to pay.” – Tom Harmsworth, WeMaintain Managing Director

For 81.6% of professionals, salary is the most important factor when applying for a new job.

So why do employers often choose not to include this crucial detail?

Why do recruiters so often face push-back at the suggestion of including salary info in a job ad? 👎🚫

Our research suggests that it comes down to a few key lines of argument.

3 Reasons Employers are Reluctant to Share Salaries in Job Ads (and 3 Counterarguments Your Agency Could Offer)

1. Not Including Salary Allows Room for Negotiation Later Down the Line Depending on Situational/Candidate Specifics

When an employer lists a salary in a job ad, they might feel as if they’re laying their cards on the table too early in the process.

They might think they no longer have room to adjust and negotiate during the hiring process based on the specifics of a candidate, such as the cost of living where they are and the quantity/quality of experience that they bring to the table.

Even listing a salary RANGE in a job advertisement will encourage candidates and raise that application rate.

If your clients are worried, they’ll hamstring themselves during negotiations, this might be a good option for them.

It will allow them to maintain some control over the final figure while still securing a wide range of applications.

2. When You Set a Salary, You Invite the Competition to Poach Top Talent

Again, laying cards on the table at the listing stage means that you’re leaving yourself open to poaching.

Not just jobseekers and potential applicants, but close professional competitors that might want to use the information to their advantage and the company’s detriment.

These competitors could poach a candidate with a better offer during the hiring process.

Money matters to jobseekers, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all.

If a salary is listed and an application is made, the candidate has deemed the salary acceptable by applying.

At this stage, if a company can sell them on the benefits package, the company ethos and the scope for workplace growth and development, any attempts to poach won’t be entertained.

3. It Might Breed Resentment/Rivalry Between Co-Workers

It’s much easier for an employee to feel jealous or judgmental of another employee when they can directly compare their two salaries, and many employers fear that freely distributing salary information will lead to a growing feeling of resentment and rivalry in the workplace, especially between colleagues who work closely together but don’t earn the same as each other.

A workplace full of rivalry isn’t a thriving, productive space.

Every successful company has to consider the bottom line.

But every successful company ALSO has to consider public perception.

When salary info isn’t shared, nothing stops co-workers from discussing salary and feeling resentful if there are gaping discrepancies anyway.

By being the ones to make this info available from day one, your clients hold themselves accountable and make things as fair as possible – it might cost them more in wages, but it’ll cost far less than fixing a bad reputation or re-motivating a jaded workforce.

Should Salary Info Be Included in Job Ads?

The arguments not to include a salary are strong. 💪

But so are the counterarguments. 🦾

My answer to the question “should salary info be included?” is:

Yes, in most cases.

Twice the amount of successful applications come out of job listings that include salary details, and that’s a number that can’t be ignored.

But the most important, unignorable consideration of ALL has to be the fact that salary is a huge candidate priority.

When you start a recruitment agency, you learn very quickly that if you want to attract as much talent as possible as quickly as possible, you need to consider candidate experience.

You need to make it your bread and butter.

That’s why so many turn to AdBuilder for help souping up their job ads – the first point of contact with jobseekers!

Failing to include compensation details damages candidate experience in many ways (something we’ll explore more deeply in a minute), and you have to question:

Is that damage worth it?

Beyond the three reasons shared in the infographic above, the choice not to include salary in an ad seems quite rooted in tradition.

It’s what’s always been done, so it’s what many companies still choose to do.

Even when research suggests that negotiations fully or part-based on salary history only exacerbate unfair pay differences. 🧐

I think the tide is changing in the professional world, moving towards salary inclusion in job ads for many reasons.

A new law over in Latvia actually made sharing expected salaries in job ads mandatory back in 2019, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, in time, similar laws are implemented in the UK.

Why Salary Info Is Important

Let’s dig into the meat and potatoes and examine why salary is such an important detail in today’s hiring market. 🍖🥔

The more you know about why salary info is important, the more equipped you’ll be to make a case to your clients.

Common questions about salary info include…

Does It Help with Attracting New Candidates? 📣

For jobseekers, the salary and the benefits package associated with a job are the two most important pieces of information.

This fact is well-covered territory by many different studies and research bodies.

You can even include those important salary details in the meta description so that they’re evident in search results before a candidate even clicks through to your listing, drawing the eye. 👀

Plus, salary is a great inclusion if you want to attract passive candidates.

(Which you should, given that 73% of candidates are passive.)

If a passive jobseeker noticed your listing on LinkedIn but didn’t see a salary, they might not bother to pursue their interest any further.

Going through the effort of negotiating and interviewing to find out whether a role is a financial fit is a lot of effort when you’re already in a job – especially when you’re nice and comfortable where you are.

But if that salary was in the ad?

And it was a better-paid alternative to their current role?

The apply button would be right there!

Does It Make Interested Candidates More Likely to Hit “Apply”? 👨💻

Recruitment agency Coburg Banks found that including salary in job ads increased the application rate by a whopping 61.7%.

That’s fairly definitive proof that salary info drives candidates towards that button and makes them more likely to take the plunge. 🤿

Including salary tells candidates:

  • This company is modern, equitable and fair
  • This company is well-organised and decisive
  • This company cares more about my skills and suitability than my salary history
  • This onboarding process won’t be full of confusing negotiations

That final bullet point brings us to the next commonly asked question…

Does It Speed Up the Onboarding Process?

Short answer:


Long answer:

Keep reading. 📖

Let’s look at this from your client’s perspective…

They’ve found a candidate they like.

They’ve conducted an interview.

They want to give this person the job.

In their mind, they know how much they want to pay the candidate.

But this hasn’t been communicated to the candidate yet.

When they put the salary to the candidate, the candidate says no to the job offer and walks away.

Then, with salary in the job listing, let’s re-run that scenario…

The job ad goes up.

Some jobseekers read the listing and choose not to apply – they don’t think they’re a match for it, or they aren’t happy with the attached salary.

Others do apply.

Your client finds a candidate they like.

They conduct an interview.

They want to give this person the job.

They offer the job to the candidate, and the candidate says yes – the salary was already essentially agreed upon when the application was completed.

When we go through these two scenarios one after the other, it’s easy to see why salary inclusion in the job ad streamlines and quickens the process of onboarding.

When everyone knows what to expect from a situation, the situation is usually able to unfold more smoothly.

If you’ve ever shown up to a surprise skiing date dressed to the nines expecting a fancy dinner date, you’ll know what I mean. 🤦‍♂️

Does It Build a More Diverse Workforce? 🏳️‍🌈

Alongside the inclusion of a clear and crisp diversity statement, the inclusion of a salary in your job ads is one of the best ways to ensure that a diverse range of candidates applies (and makes it to the workforce).

Diverse hiring isn’t just about race or gender – though research shows that white men do tend to come out of salary negotiations better off.

 It’s about tackling class and income inequality too.

If someone doesn’t have much money to fall back on, they’re a lot less likely to waste precious time applying for a job with an unknown and potentially sub-par amount of compensation.

Especially when you measure them against someone who isn’t in a tight financial situation.

Someone who does have the time to inquire and find out. 🤷‍♀️

When Should You Not Include a Salary in Your Listing?

We’re big believers in transparency here at AdBuilder, and we think disclosing salary in the job ad will only benefit all parties involved in the end.

But for recruitment agencies, the answer to “when should you not include a salary?” is as simple as this:

When your client doesn’t want you to.

You can give a company your counterarguments (like the ones contained in this blog).

You can give a company all the stats about how much candidates value salary info.

But if they still won’t budge, you have to know when to take a seat. 🪑

According to Payscale’s 2021 report, only 12.6% of global companies published a pay range in their job ads during 2020.

Yes, the tide is changing, but we still have a long way to go in the world of recruitment.

And in the meantime?

You have to know how to make your clients’ ads perform effectively without that application-rate-boosting information in them…

6 Ways to Improve Your Job Ads and Boost the Application Rate (Without Including Salary Details)

1. Make sure your job titles are short, snappy and searchable – They should be under 50 characters and not so specific/quirky that nobody will be typing those words into Google on the hunt for a job.

2. Cut down the list of “Job Requirements” in consultation with your client, ensuring that only extremely relevant requirements are listed – This way, the rate of applications from women will rise. (According to a Hewlett Packard internal report, men apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the requirements, while women only apply when they feel they meet 100%.)

3. Optimise your job ad for search engines – An SEO-friendly ad will see more traffic than its non-optimised counterpart, and with more eyes on your ads, they’ll generate more applications. Plus, they’ll be more likely to show up in relevant places to people who are interested in the type of job you’re listing (and are actively Googling terms related to it).

4. Emphasise the benefits package – Alongside salary, benefits are a big priority for candidates. All the benefits on offer should be listed in the job ad.

5. Keep the entire ad short and sweet – A long job ad is over 600 words, a medium job ad is 300-600, and a short job ad is under 300. Though it can be hard to fit all the info you want to express into 300 words, it’s worth it when you learn that shorter job ads enjoy 8.4% more applications per view.

6. Use a bias checking tool like AdGrader to confirm that your ad is free of exclusionary language – Diversity and inclusion are increasingly important in the modern world, and the last thing you’d want to do would be to unintentionally exclude a pool of applicants with a poor choice of phrasing.

For More Ways to Attract Top Talent, Invest in Recruitment Automation Tools 🤖

Now you know – salary can 100% boost the application rate that your job listings enjoy.

But it’s not something that every company is willing to share. 🙅‍♂️

Luckily, other rate-boosting methods are readily available.

A job advert building platform like AdBuilder, for instance, will result in the production of consistent, high-quality ads.

When paired with a tool like AdGrader, you’ll boost application rates AND save everyone at your agency precious working time.

What’s not to love?

If you enjoyed this blog post, stick around on our blog.

You’ll soon find there’s a lot more where that came from.

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James Ball
Written by James Ball

James is the founder and owner of AdBuilder and a recruitment expert from Sutton Coldfield in the UK.  He regularly advises companies on how to improve and get the maximum ROI from their recruitment processes and advertising.

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