By Christine Pena-Oquist
The other day, I got a notification from LinkedIn saying something about a few job openings for which, according to them, I was more qualified than the candidates who had applied so far. So, out of curiosity, I clicked over to take a look.
I have a job with a flexible schedule that works for me; and through it, I get to enjoy an awesome company culture. So, obviously, in order to woo me away, a job would need to offer me those things plus a higher wage. After a few minutes of looking through those job ads, I found that not one of them divulged a pay range. “Eh, no thank you!” I went back to whatever I had been doing before.
This seemingly mundane experience got me thinking. The company I work for actually helps mid-sized companies and organizations write better job ads. It is an important part of the strategy we use to help them improve their hiring results. Based on my company’s extensive experience with this, we always encourage employers to include a pay range in their job ads. We know that doing so will increase their flow of quality applicants.
Suddenly, however, I wanted to delve deeper into this subject. Why do so many employers still insist on this practice of non-disclosure? How pervasive is this practice? What do average job seekers have to say about it?
So I started talking to people, reading articles along with their comments, and perusing forum discussions on this topic.
According to Adzuna, more than 50% of U.S. companies do not disclose pay information in their job ads. According to my informal tally of credit union job ads on Indeed, it is possible that this figure is even higher for credit unions. Roughly 70% of the ones I looked at did not mention anything about compensation.
Before moving on to my list, I'll just reveal my biggest takeaway from this research:
There is a whole lot of anger and defensiveness surrounding this topic!
So, here we go, here are 8 stupid reasons for not disclosing the starting pay or salary range in your job ad:
#1 We want to hire someone who is not primarily motivated by money.
While I did actually see this reasoning spelled out in a few places, I think that, more often than not, it is one of those vague philosophies floating around in the subconscious that hasn’t actually been put into words yet. Because, once you do and start analyzing it, it falls apart pretty quickly.
If you don’t want compensation to play a major part in a candidate's decision, it would probably make more sense to find a volunteer or “unpaid intern” to fill the position. Of course, they won’t last as long, be as reliable, and will be harder to find in the first place. So, that brings us back to the reason we usually pay employees.
Money is not the only factor job seekers take into consideration when contemplating a job opportunity. Often, they will accept a little less money in exchange for other perks such as an ideal location, a great schedule, a fantastic company culture, and/or excellent benefits, etc.
Money, however, is the main component of compensation in our economy. It is what candidates weigh all the other perks against. They simply can’t make a wise decision without information about the monetary component. Our society expects that every household supports itself with at least one paycheck. Take a moment to consider what part compensation has played in your career decisions.
It really does seem ironic for employers to imply that job seekers are greedy for caring about wages, when they, themselves, are trying to get away with paying out as little as possible.
#2 If job seekers find out how little we pay, they won’t apply.
It is understood that, as not-for-profits, credit unions often struggle to compete with banks who have more resources. However, it is still important to carefully consider the compensation you offer. Employees truly are your biggest asset. Good employees attract and retain members. If there is any way to make adjustments in your budget so that you can increase pay for positions which you have a hard time filling, it would be well worth it.
If you are paying considerably less than other credit unions in your community, take some time to carefully evaluate why. Those other credit unions are also not-for-profits operating in your same local economy, so why are they able to offer more?
Employers who operate from this place of fear that job seekers will be turned off by the low wage they are offering, are hoping that when they reveal it in the eleventh hour, the candidate will be in so deep, having invested so much into the application process, that he or she will just swallow and accept it.
...and some might, but they will start a relationship with their new employer based on resentment and mistrust. And, likely, they will continue to view them as a foe, rather than a collaborator.
Really, it's a huge miscalculation all the way around. As this seems to be the very scenario that makes job seekers furious with a capital F. If you search the internet, you will find horror story after horror story about job seekers who put hours of their valuable time into an application process, only to find out at the very end that the job paid way less than market value, way less than they could accept, and/or way less than they currently earned. These frustrated candidates use words like "disrespected" and "manipulated" to describe how they felt.
And, in this day and age, what do disgruntled job seekers do? They write reviews, social media posts, and blog articles. And research shows, they don’t just advise against applying with you, they also advise against doing business with you. You can’t afford this.
Millennials, as a generation, hold transparency and community service as two of their top values. If you have carefully evaluated your pay scale and truly can’t make any increases, you will be better off being transparent about what you pay and then highlighting some of the other things you offer, such as opportunities for community service. This will bring better results down the road than trying to trick job seekers.
#3 If job seekers find out how much we pay, too many will apply.
I know, I know. Mountains of applications to sift through looks in your mind’s eye like it will require lots of extra time that overburdened HR professional like yourself simply don’t have. To those of us who have experience specifically in hiring optimization, however, a steady flow of applications looks in our mind's eye like a better chance of finding the ideal candidate.
While it is true that you will have to find a way to separate all of the promising candidates from the rest, it really can be a case of working smarter rather than harder. If you take full advantage of the digital tools available to HR professionals these days, sorting and tracking applicants can be done quite efficiently.
Applicant tracking software is accessible now even to smaller employers. Features such as customizable pre-screening questions can quickly eliminate the less qualified applicants, while still storing them in a database from which they can be retrieved if conditions or needs change. Mass emails or texts can be sent to update applicants on their status.
Taking some time to familiarize yourself with the best hiring tools available, can give you the best of both worlds: a steady flow of applicants and a desk free from piles of applications and candidate files.
A fear of success is rarely productive!
#4 If we divulge a salary range, job seekers will always expect to be paid at the top of the range.
This has to stop! Great relationships are not built on fear and distrust.
I really believe this oft-repeated reasoning to be an exaggeration. Several studies have shown that 100 percent of women tend to underestimate their qualifications for jobs, not overestimate them. Our clients who state pay ranges in their ads get good results and do not seem to have problems that outweigh those benefits.
There are always going to be some applicants who lack self-awareness or are downright delusional. But, do you really want to hire candidates like that anyway?
Some of the good news in this whole pay transparency debate is that job seekers state again and again that as angry as they get about potential employers withholding pay information, it doesn’t take an exact figure to make them happy. They are satisfied with pay ranges, even very broad ones. So, your position pays anywhere from $10-$30 hr? Then, you can state that!
Job seekers just don’t want to feel stupid or duped when the absolute minimum starting pay turns out to be way less than they had expected or can afford to accept. And, actually, they like to see that their is room for growth in a position.
They don’t need to know what their exact starting pay is going to be. They want to know what the actual minimum and maximum possibilities are. They are sure you know those two figures, and they appreciate your transparency! If you really don’t know the minimum you expect to pay and the maximum you're willing to pay, then you have a business problem.
If you really believe that no good candidates are going to accept the reasoning behind your pay scale, it is time to reevaluate it. Or, possibly, you need to rethink the way you explain it.
If a young candidate with less than a year of experience angrily stomps out because you did not offer them the rate you had reserved for someone with decades of experience, then you probably wouldn’t want them as an employee any way!
#5 We don’t want our current employees to find out that we are going to pay our new hire more than we pay them.
It isn't that there aren't scenarios for which it would be appropriate to pay a new hire more. In such cases, however, the reasoning should be logical and transparent enough that current employees will understand. If it's basis is truly sound, why would you want to hold on to employees who are not mature enough to accept it?
Hopefully, you are not simply trying to pay current employees less than market value, just because you think it's worth trying to get away with. If you’re banking on their ignorance about their own worth to reduce your personnel costs, it is almost a given that your company culture and employer brand is suffering.
Also, consider that these kinds of secrets are not as well kept as you might hope, and in a few states it's even illegal to require your employees to do so. Office gossip is still a thing. Finding out over lunch that your employer has been sticking it to you is a real morale killer!
#6 We don’t want our competitors to find out how much we pay.
So, what exactly is your trade secret? Is it that you pay less than other credit unions? Well, then #2, above, is probably your real concern. Your competitors are not likely to do anything with this information, other than possibly advertise that they pay more.
If they're smart, though, they already advertise how much they pay every time they post an open position. And, as a result, they already get more applicants than employers who don’t divulge that information--30% more, according to research. Which actually seems low to me. As every single job seeker whom I talked to or read the opinion of, expressed having a general policy of not responding to job ads which don’t divulge a pay range. This wasn't at all surprising to me, since that is my philosophy as well.
Is your secret that you pay your employees exceptionally well? In that case, the whole reason for doing so is to attract and retain better employees. It's unlikely to be because your credit union has excess funds that no one can figure out how to spend.
So, to fully take advantage of paying exceptional wages, you need to advertise to job seekers that you do so. You might be able to use above-average wages to hold onto exceptional employees without advertising, but not to attract new ones.
If you really believe that your competitors are desperately trying to get a hold of your salary details in order to use that information against you, there’s something else to consider. If they really want that information badly enough, they probably already have it.
All those online career sites that gather reviews from applicants and employees, also keep track of wages. So the cat may already be out of the bag anyway! I was able to google Glassdoor, the name of the credit union I bank with, and “pay tellers.” Instantly, I pulled up a graph on Glassdoor detailing their average pay for tellers as well as several other positions.
Really, the only situation where this knowledge might make a significant difference would be in high-stakes negotiations for top talent to fill high-paying positions. Consider, however, that when companies and organizations have established a great reputation around their employer brand, top talent is highly motivated to work for them.
In such cases, the applicant would probably inform the potential employer if they received an offer of better pay during negotiations, thus giving the first potential employer an opportunity to counter-offer. If upping their offer is impossible, the applicant might still choose to go ahead and accept the lower pay in order to enjoy some of the other perks that come with working for an employer with an exceptional reputation.
But how often does this kind of high-stake employee recruitment occur in the credit union world anyway? And, really, if you couldn't compete when it comes to salary or reputation as an employer in a bidding war, you wouldn't be likely to hold onto such top talent for very long anyway.
#7 We don’t want to attract passive job seekers.
Why would you want to limit yourself?
Passive job seekers are those who already have stable, decent jobs. They are not actively and desperately applying to every job out there. They can, however, be enticed by jobs that offer better conditions and/or more compensation. They are already demonstrating their employability and ability to hold down a job successfully.
They are even less likely, however, to invest their time into a long, tedious job application process for a position for which they do not have any information regarding pay. With an unemployment rate of 4.3%, you can be sure that there is a lot of valuable talent out there in the passive job seeker pool. Even advertisements for entry-level teller positions have the potential to entice passive job seekers who are currently employed in retail for minimum wage.
#8 We need to ensure that, as the employer, we retain all the power in the relationship.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our modern job market no longer puts employers in a position of absolute power. Modern arrivals on the hiring scene such as Indeed, Glassdoor, Career Builder, and social media, in general, are the great equalizers.
This article from Glassdoor, is a compilation of data and statistics concerning how job seekers and employers now interact with each other and these new online hiring tools.
From the above-mentioned article, I can’t help but point out this bit of data listed under Employee Branding: “Top five pieces of information job seekers want employers to provide as they research where to work: 1) Salary/compensation, 2) Benefits, 3) Basic company information, 4) What makes it an attractive place to work, 5) Company mission, vision, values.”
These days, Job seekers can vet you as much as you vet them. They network with each other and share job hunting and employment experiences. Our modern job market is built on mutual respect. If you treat job seekers with respect, they are more likely to return the favor.
What are your feelings about this hotly debated issue?
Hi, welcome to CUhiring! My name is Christine and I am the credit union hiring specialist at ApplicantPro. I enjoy sharing tips and insights having to do with hiring. Please come back often and feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, as well as your social media of preference. Currently, I can be found on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.