Pay Transparency Tips: How to Include a Salary Range and Write Better Job Posts

Writing an effective job post for an open position isn’t a simple task. Does it capture the essence of the role? Will it attract viable candidates? Did you include enough information about the job expectations? However, one specific question has recently drawn more attention (and controversy): Should you include a salary range in a job post?

Including a salary range isn't just about attracting candidates or staying compliant with local legislation. It's about creating better pay transparency overall, which will help your company strengthen its employer brand and empowering progress toward pay equity.

As of early 2023, close to half of companies disclose salary information in job posts—more than double those in 2020. Their reasons range from legal requirements to supporting pay equity and promoting pay transparency. On the other hand, many companies never share their pay ranges, arguing that doing so is potentially disastrous for employee-employer relations.

As you consider whether or not to include pay ranges in job posts, consider how this decision goes beyond your recruiting strategy.

Of course, including a pay range is just one nuanced aspect of hiring and compensation, and fast, easy, and accurate HR software from BambooHR can help simplify an often complex process.

How to Counter Potential Worries About Including a Salary Range in Job Posts

Despite the growing body of evidence demonstrating that full transparency leads to more diverse candidates and more equitable pay for women, people of color, and other historically underpaid groups, most companies still omit salary ranges. According to a recent Payscale report, 13% of global companies don’t ever share pay ranges with candidates, and 37% wait until later in the hiring process.

If You’re Worried Candidates Will Overlook a Job

Maybe you’re concerned that including salary information in a job will encourage candidates with a specific number in mind to look elsewhere if it’s not just right.

However, just including a salary range actually entices candidates to apply—even if the numbers are lower than they would like. BambooHR found that 60% of job seekers rule out employers who aren’t transparent about salary, which means leaving out pay information could drive away top talent.

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If You’re Worried About the Time It Takes to Set Pay Ranges

While researching and determining salary ranges can be a complex process, it’s the key to competitive, equitable compensation and retention.

Additionally, establishing salary ranges in advance helps your organization prepare for pay conversations with prospective and current employees.

People do their own research on what they think they should be paid—75% of employees prepare for formal compensation conversations at work. Their top methods include:

If You’re Worried Pay Transparency in Job Posts Will Create Internal Conflict

Many companies exclude salary ranges in job postings because disclosing what they’re willing to pay new candidates could cause internal conflict with existing employees, especially those who started at a lower wage.

The truth is your secret is likely already public knowledge, so being open about what you pay your people is how you set the record straight and prevent misinformation from spreading. Job sites like Indeed, Payscale, and Glassdoor offer up salary information freely. Current and former employees can post salary information in reviews, on social media, or communicate the old-fashioned way—by word of mouth.

In a 2023 BambooHR hiring survey, nearly one-third of job seekers (32%) said they’re willing to reach out directly to ex- and current employees to find out the truth about a future employer.

Being open about what you pay your people is how you set the record straight and prevent misinformation from spreading.

Why You Should Add a Salary Range to Your Job Posts

Many job seekers, employers, and recruiters have expressed support for salary transparency, from a reflective “let’s make this job post worth people’s while” to a straight-up “don’t be a coward” call to action. But appeasing online proponents isn’t the only benefit to adding salary range to job listings.

You’ll Give the People What They Want

Compensation and benefits are the main focus for candidates seeking a new job. One LinkedIn survey found that 91% of US employees say including salary ranges in a job post affects whether they apply, with 89% saying salary range is helpful when deciding to apply for a position. Save your company time by incorporating a pay range in the job posting and give interested job seekers a chance to consider your open position more seriously.

Your Employer Brand Will Get a Boost

Disclosing salary information may not be the norm, but that means employers that do reveal salary ranges tend to stand out. Adding wage details in your job post is one way to build trust with job candidates during the recruitment process and to continue the loyalty of current employees who know exactly where they stand on the pay scale.

You’ll Save Time and Stress by Not Negotiating

Being straightforward about your company’s compensation allows job seekers to enter the interview process with an accurate idea of the compensation package to expect rather than a number they create themselves and need to justify to you. You already have a number or a range in mind; being open about it saves time and worry for everyone involved in the hiring process.

You’ll Contribute to a More Equitable Environment for Everyone, Including Underrepresented Groups

Pay gaps among underrepresented groups are a widespread problem in the corporate sphere. For example, in 2022, Black women earned only 70% as much as White men. Your company can take a powerful stance on the wage gap by using better, more transparent methods of communicating salary information.

In 2023, 8 States Have Pay Transparency Laws—and 16 Are Considering Joining Them

Pay transparency is more than just a “perk” in some states—it’s the law.

In eight states, employers must disclose salary range information if an applicant asks:

The exact rules around pay transparency vary between states:

As of March 2023, 16 additional states are considering pay transparency legislation: Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Colorado: The Gold Standard for Pay Transparency

In Colorado, an employer recruiting for a job, remote or otherwise, must include:

Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act was enacted in January 2021 to prevent gender-based wage discrimination. The law does include a list of allowable factors for salary discrepancies, so long as the employer “applies the factors reasonably and they account for the entire wage rate differential.”

These factors include:

Still, all Colorado-based businesses—even businesses with one employee—must include expected salary ranges and benefits in all job postings. This empowers applicants with a better understanding of their market value and allows them to come prepared to discuss their compensation with more information at their disposal.

How Do Pay Transparency Laws Affect Remote Workers?

Before launching a new hiring process, make sure you understand your state or city's legislation about pay transparency. These rules apply to both local and remote applicants.

How to Disclose Non-Salary Compensation on Job Posts

Not all salary ranges are created equal. Specific industries or job roles, like sales or account management roles, may offer compensation structures that aren’t strictly tied to a base salary.

Instead, these roles rely on bonuses or commissions to complete the total compensation package. As a result, the starting salary may seem very low when listed on a job post, yet the actual earnings could be closer to what candidates anticipate—or even higher.

Unfortunately, it’s too easy to miss commission-based listings on job search sites. Job seekers often filter by base salary when searching for open positions, so many candidates won’t even see the job opening if they aren’t looking at salaries that low.

Whether your state mandates your organization to disclose salary information or not, if you opt to share wage ranges, try to get the range as close to the total compensation as possible while being both realistic and crystal clear about your compensation structure. If you can’t include commission, or there’s no space to add supplemental wages, make the earning potential very clear in the wording of your job posting.

5 Tips to Write an Effective Job Post (with or without Salary Range)

Of course, job seekers will want to know how much they’ll make, but they also need to understand what they’re expected to do and whether they have a shot at the job.

The next time you sit down to write a job post, consider the following areas to make it an effective one.

1. Use short, simple job titles and descriptions.

It’s all about brevity! Jobs with shorter, SEO-optimized copy get more attention and applicants. Also, try for a more specific title that describes the position. For example, “Marketing Analyst” rather than just “Analyst II.”

2. Be upfront about the location.

Let candidates know if the position is in-person, remote, or hybrid. Candidates will need to prepare for relocation or a higher/lower cost of living.

3. Don’t list too many qualifications.

Keep this section short, simple, and easy to read. A clear list of bullet points can appeal more to candidates than a long, bulky paragraph. Unless the job calls for it, too many specific qualifications may deter some job seekers from applying.

4. Include company reviews.

Companies will often include a website, mission statement, or culture statement on their job post to give candidates an overview of the organization itself. However, LinkedIn developed a job posting “heat map” that shows candidates often skim over these statements and instead focus on employer review sites that post unbiased views of the organization.

Take some time to search your company online and anticipate possible candidate questions based on company reviews that may be floating around.

5. Be direct.

In the same heat map mentioned above, LinkedIn tested three versions of the same job description with different tones—straightforward, formal, and casual. The direct approach was the best received among respondents, followed by the formal ad. The casual, conversational post did not do well, and those who read it were two to four times less likely to apply.

Pay Transparency Opens More Doors to More People

A salary is more than an exchange of money for labor. Salaries indicate how invested companies are in their employees’ wellbeing, fair and equitable compensation, and—when they’re made public—overall organizational transparency. Whether you make that information public or not shows more than just how confident you are that you’re truly paying every employee what they’re worth—it shows how confident you are as a business in the idea of doing what’s right.

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