By Kathryn Mayer
As pay transparency becomes a bigger workplace issue—with many employees calling for the practice, and several states and cities enacting laws requiring it—recent data solidifies the trend, along with a warning for employers: They may lose out on job candidates if they don’t post a salary range.
That’s according to a report from ResumeLab, a career advice website, which found that four out of five workers said they are unlikely to apply to a job that doesn’t provide a pay range. Fourteen percent said they weren’t sure, and just 6 percent said not having a salary range was unlikely to have an impact on them applying for a job.
Going even further, 77 percent said it should be illegal to not include a salary range in job postings, and 80 percent said employers should always explain how pay is determined.
How employees viewed the necessity of salary posting depended on certain factors, the report found: For instance, 89 percent of respondents with master’s degrees agreed that a salary range was a must in job postings. Conversely, 66 percent of survey takers with no college degree shared such an opinion.
Employees being reluctant about applying to jobs without salary ranges is “definitely a trend we’re starting to see,” said Amy Stewart, associate director of content marketing at Seattle-based compensation software firm Payscale. “I suspect that those who are not publishing the ranges are going to see fewer applications than those that are.”
Knowing and seeing a pay range, she said, is “an enormous benefit to job seekers, and it shows a progressive lens and a likely more satisfying work experience for employers that are able to publish those ranges, whereas those that don’t might feel like more of a risk. And that can impact the quality of candidates that [employers] get.”
The data comes as pay transparency is becoming a growing issue, with employers increasingly disclosing salary ranges. The number of organizations including pay ranges in job postings has more than doubled since last year—from 22 percent that included salary ranges in postings in 2022 to 45 percent that said they currently include pay ranges, Payscale research shows.
“Obviously, the pay transparency legislation has a big part in forcing organizations to be more transparent about their pay and job postings,” said Lulu Seikaly, senior corporate employment attorney at Payscale. “But we also see the social pressures of the Tik Tok and Gen Z generations who are speaking out much more vocally on social media, saying to their employer, ‘This isn’t taboo anymore. We should be talking more openly about pay.’ ”
Pay transparency has pros and cons, industry insiders say. Employers worry about the administrative burden of disclosing salaries—a survey of employers from consulting firm WTW last fall found that one-third said their company wasn’t ready for pay transparency—and worry they may price out appealing candidates if they stick to a certain range. At the same time, many insiders say without it, employees—and job candidates—trust those companies less, which in turn could blunt companies’ competitive edge.
“Companies think they’re being smart by refusing to disclose salaries, but candidates are onto them,” the ResumeLab report found. “The majority of them know the trick and trust companies less as a result. So disclosing salary could actually give smart companies a competitive advantage.”
Although layoffs are happening at some major firms, including the Walt Disney Company, Microsoft and Amazon, the job market remains largely strong, with recruiting and retaining talent a concern among many HR leaders.
“Employees today have expectations about the type of company they want to go and work for, and whether they’re going to be valued, and whether their whole self is going to be valued when they go to work for that employer,” said Ruth Thomas, pay equity strategist at Payscale. “And indications of whether they’ll show pay gaps or whether they’re prepared to adopt pay transparency are clear indicators of that for people when they’re considering who they’re going to work for.”
Not only is having a salary range important, but having a good-faith range—defined as one the employer “honestly believes at the time they are listing the job advertisement that they are willing to pay the successful applicant”—is important in appealing to potential employees, Seikaly said. “Employers [that] are posting these million-dollar spread ranges are not going to get applicants applying to their jobs.”