Should Job Listings Include a Salary Range?

Salary negotiation is often one of the most difficult and awkward parts of the job search process. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if companies let us know the salary range they had in mind in advance? Job listings that include a salary range could save both job seekers and hiring managers a lot of time and aggravation — not to mention, nasty surprises during the negotiation phase.

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Here’s the Reason So Many Employers Keep It Private

Companies have a lot to gain by keeping their compensation budget to themselves. Mainly, it gives them the upper hand when it comes time to negotiate. Make no mistake though, the company definitely knows what they have to spend on salary — it just doesn’t benefit them to share that information with every potential hire via a job posting.

For example, say a company hopes to hire someone for around $65,000 per year. But, then a qualified candidate enters the scene who reveals, during the negotiation process, that they’re willing to accept the position for much less than that. The company wins, right?! As far as a business’s bottom line is concerned, it appears to make sense to pay less for talent when possible.

How Job Listings Have Changed — and What It Means to You

“It used to be the norm to include a salary in a job listing, and job seekers wouldn’t apply to a job without that info because they considered it suspicious. But in the past 15 years companies have gradually decreased the frequency with which they include a salary amount in a job listing,” wrote Jess Vyvial-Larson at FlexJobs in 2013. “The recession continued this trend, because employers used to include a salary to attract more qualified applicants, as a competitive advantage to get the best people. However with the increase in job-seekers, applicants have been flooding HR departments with applications and they don’t simply don’t need to include salary information anymore.”

Of course, not every company who leaves a salary range off a job listing is hoping to get candidates to accept lower-than-market pay. Some are just hoping to get a deal (without offering an inappropriately low salary). But it’s important for you, the job seeker, to know what an appropriate range is, before you go into the process, so that you won’t be surprised into taking a salary that will make you resentful and less productive over time.

That last bit is important for managers to remember, too: if your employer isn’t paying your team what they should be paid, it’ll impact everyone’s work.

“How can you crow about your team, talk about the importance of talent or make any statements at all about your company’s appreciation for people when you knowingly underpay anyone who doesn’t know what their skills are worth?” asks Liz Ryan at Forbes.

What to Do the Next Time You’re in This Situation

If you’re applying for a job and the salary range has not been specified, there is one very important thing you need to do when it comes time to negotiate. If they aren’t going to provide you with a salary range, don’t share your salary history.

Instead, be sure you know exactly how much you should be paid based on your skills and experience. Take PayScale’s Salary Survey to get the right range for the role. Then, check out the Salary Negotiation Guide for some helpful tips. You want to be prepared, whether you know the potential salary range or not.

Tell Us What You Think

How did your last salary negotiation go? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.