4 ways to display salary in a job description

Last updated:
December 14, 2020
December 20, 2021
min read
Sim Samra
Table of contents

They say a picture paints a thousand words. When it comes to advertising a job, the whole idea gets turned on its head—it’s the words you use in your ads (and you probably won’t get as many as a thousand in most instances) that paints the picture of your business that you want your applicants to see.

As you already know, this picture that your ad creates needs to suggest that your company is the best place to work, with the most exciting role, full of challenges and exciting operations to immerse their team in day-after-day. And, of course, a highly desirable remuneration and rewards package, ie. salary.

With only a limited amount of space and copy to make all of those things sound as attractive as possible to potential applicants, why do so many employers choose to leave one of the biggest hitters out of the equation?

Why employers choose to leave out salary information

The biggest reason employers choose not to post a salary is the fear of putting off higher-quality applicants.

There’s a problem with that, though. There’s just as much chance that they’re putting off the suitable applicants they’re searching for by omitting that most important of details.

If you’re active in a competitive industry, the ad that shows the salary information will win the attention of applicants over the ad that doesn’t.

Recent studies have indeed shown the millennial generation to show greater interest in job satisfaction, working conditions, environment, and a better work/life balance over salary expectations. But don’t be fooled; salary is still one of the biggest motivators when it comes to choosing their new job.

Why you should always display salary in job descriptions

* Transparency

* A more fluid process

* Elimination of unsuitable candidates

* Applicants are looking for higher salaries

* You’ll stand out from those who don’t


We’re living in an age where information is immediately available and at our fingertips, and that transparency earns trust. By including a salary, or a salary range, your applicants know just what to expect. If the type of work provides a good fit within the range of the supplied figures, they know immediately whether or not this is a good fit for them and their progression through their chosen industry.

A more fluid process

Candidates are going to want to know what the salary and associated benefits are anyway, so why create a clumsy system of cat and mouse when you can get everything out on the table straight away? If you’ve covered the salary, job description, working hours, and associated bonuses in your advertisement, the applicant already has a concrete view of where they stand.

You can avoid awkward conversations and wasting each other’s time by offering the basic information at the beginning of the process, leaving you to concentrate on the other more important conversations, about what the job entails, and what you both want and need from each other.

Elimination of unsuitable candidates

A salary will often dictate an assumed level of expertise or experience a candidate should hold to apply for the position. Using this to your advantage will weed out applications from those who don’t hold the necessary skills or experience, without you having to sift through piles of unnecessary paperwork.

On the flip side, as this works at both ends of the spectrum, you really shouldn’t be wasting your time, or theirs, interviewing candidates you can’t possibly afford to hire.

Applicants are almost always looking for higher salaries

Unless they’ve had a terrible experience with their previous employer, or feel as though it’s the business that’s stagnant and not them, the majority of job seekers are looking to better themselves—and that means a higher salary. Most employees won’t leave a comfortable and safe position for the same package as the one they already hold. If you want to reel those applicants in, posting the salary is a must.

You’ll stand out from those who don’t

In current trends, it’s around half of all ads that post a salary. If a candidate is limited for time or is only going to apply to the most attractive, those featuring a salary are going to be the ones that draw them in the quickest.

Online recruiters suggest that the job ads that feature salaries receive over 30% more applicants. And with more applications, you have a deeper talent pool to choose from. Doesn’t that make more sense too?

The 4 ways of advertising the salary

1. Listing a low salary

Advertising a low salary could be seen as a way to attract those who hold a real interest in working in your industry or environment. It might help to filter out the employees who are simply jumping towards bigger and better pay-cheques.

Again, in current society, work/life balance is playing a bigger part than ever in why we choose one job over another. In some situations promoting the additional benefits could outweigh the pull of a larger salary and help you hire more economically.

2. Listing the highest salary available

In competitive industries, the remuneration becomes competitive by default.

That said, a high salary could catch the eye of a professional who wasn’t actively looking for a new role, but such a lure might make them reconsider. The acquisition of a valuable asset could be down to something as simple as a better pay-grade and being in the right place at the right time.

High salaries create attractive positions. They’ll attract every level of applicants from time-served and highly experienced to the up-and-coming fresh talent, ready to utilize their energy and newly developed skillsets.

3. Listing a salary range

Offering a range from lowest to highest available options gives an employer access to more applicants, offering different rewards or positions dependent on experience. It also provides the business with some leeway during negotiations, in circumstances where an applicant counters an original offer.

The high end of the range will provide appeal to all applicants, yet the low end will offer some realism to expectations, as well as the possible opportunity for those without the most experience.

4. Choosing not to list a salary

As we’ve discussed, there are plenty of reasons to post a salary in your ads than to choose not to, but in some circumstances, it could still play to your advantage.

For low salary positions, you might still get more applicants by withholding that information and choose other ways to try and lure potential employees into the role.

For businesses with a strong reputation, they may not need to advertise a salary, as the prestige of working for them could be allure enough to pull in fresh talent or highly experienced workers. It could also be that beyond a certain level, salary negotiation is a standard part of the discussion.

And finally, for positions where the total salary depends on commissions or bonuses, the basic package may look far less than attractive to what it offers in reality. Finding the correct wording and a true estimate of potential earnings could be difficult to show and lead to unfair expectations. Not every salary is black and white, after all.

Whichever way you choose, make sure it’s the right way for your business

There is no definitive way to advertise your job or the salary that goes with it. In our experience, we believe that posting your salary offers the most advantages to both employer and hopeful employee. You should consider your business culture, brand, and operation to pinpoint the best way for each opportunity.

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