Salaries on Job Ads Don’t Work

Lola Oguntokun
6 min readJan 30, 2024

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I don’t see the point in putting salaries on job adverts. I actually feel doing this can do more harm than good.

As people now commonly state on LinkedIn, “Let me explain.”

No, but really, let me explain.

Too High

In the past (many moons ago), I found when I put a salary range on a job, most candidates would ask for salaries at the upper end, even the less experienced and skilled. This leads to candidates pricing themselves out because they’re not showing flexibility, assuming that the full range of pay is open to them and it often is not. The point of the range is not to find a sneaky way to underpay people but to attract a range of candidates, meaning the “perfect” candidate and candidates 30 degrees to the left and right of “perfect”.

Before putting out a vacancy, a recruiter should have a good understanding of the ideal level of the role and where this sits salary-wise in the market. So being put in a position where you have to explain to someone why we wouldn’t value them at the higher end can be a little awkward, but when we do, we do this citing market. The problem with this exchange though is the candidate has shown themselves, and not in a good way. The candidate loses credibility as you then start to question the person’s judgement.

Being transparent about salaries requires candidates to do more research into industry standards and where they sit within that. I appreciate some companies practice trying to hire people at the lowest salary possible, but knowing your market value helps you better negotiate because you can back up your number with data. This stands whether the salary is visible or not.

Too Low

On the flip side, I also worry that the right candidate wouldn’t apply because the salary range appears to be too low or if they undervalue themselves, may deem the role to be far above them.

According to a Gender Insights Report by LinkedIn, around 90% of both men and women are open to new job opportunities, yet women are 20% less likely to apply. A Harvard Business Review article from 2014 shared that men will apply meeting only 60% of the qualifications while women will only apply if they meet 100%. Hopefully, this percentage has changed since then but women do pay more attention to the detail, and the detail can become a barrier to their application.

Every time I’ve spoken to a candidate who had a salary figure in their mind, but would hesitantly share it when asked, and quickly lower it without prompting… it was always a woman. Never a man.

I always encourage women to ask for what they believe they are worth and not go low just to be more appealing but I can’t deny a lot of women are minimising themselves to fit in more easily and not be viewed as a threat or concern.

So what does this all mean?

There are many articles on the internet about women and imposter syndrome. I’ll be exploring this topic more next week on my podcast with some friends so I won’t dive into it too much now. Nevertheless, due to the lack of representation, women are more likely to doubt themselves, and I do believe adding salary details presents another thing to take into consideration and exclude themselves from, potentially limiting us from going for what we want.

I know some believe knowing salary saves everyone a lot of time, but I believe not displaying salary allows for more chance and opportunity.

Market Research

One of the main reasons I prefer not to put a salary on a job advert is because it allows the employer to learn the market. It’s easy to assume people’s market value, but the market is constantly twisting and turning. Sales profiles that were valued at £80k last year can be valued at £120k this year, whereas an Office Manager role valued at £45k the previous year, is now £50k. If you are too rigid on salary and make this public there’s no way to get a realistic view of the market, and it is with this realistic view that I’m usually able to educate the budget holder and get them to open up the purse a little wider. This is better than wasting 6 months on a role I know is not going to work salary-wise in today’s market and then finally suggesting we open up the range. We’d lose so much time, and businesses often need these hires “yesterday”.

Another huge benefit is when there is no salary indicated, candidates are not swayed by the numbers they’ve seen. This increases the likelihood of getting applications from people who are genuinely interested in the company and the role before money. These are the people every company wants to hire. On the hiring side, there’s then a great focus on the candidate’s suitability and alignment, not just for the role, but with the team and company as a whole.

Take a Chance

Companies will always flex for the right person, within reason. I’ve personally gone for jobs where the salary level was lower than what I wanted. I was upfront about my expectations from the beginning, and though we both knew my expectations were higher, we both were interested enough in each other to “see how it goes”. I was willing to take the chance, knowing there were no guarantees. I appreciate not everyone is willing to do that and some would pull out at that stage, but guess what, I got very close to the salary I felt was appropriate and received several increases after.

If you like a role, apply and see if there’s flexibility. Don’t be afraid of it not working out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, my friends.

Most of the roles I’ve been hired for have gone above budget to hire me. This happened because I:

  • took a chance
  • was upfront about salary
  • showed genuine interest
  • was open and prepared to negotiate
  • didn’t make it personal
  • was prepared to respectfully walk away if the salary didn’t meet my minimum

These days it feels like everyone is too afraid to lose. If you are called by a recruiter and the salary is too low, is that a waste of your time? If you handle that conversation well, you will kickstart a good relationship with that recruiter and they will contact you first when something more suitable comes up or the salary range expands. There is still a chance for opportunity there. The recruiter may also be able to give you a view of the hiring market and where roles at your level tend to sit. No conversation is a waste of time when you approach them in this way.

Be open to as many opportunities as possible. Be upfront about the things you want and what you’re flexible on and hopefully, you’ll land on the perfect spot.

So what do you think? Should job adverts always have salary ranges? Yes, no, why?

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Lola Oguntokun

I help build, shape and champion innovative companies and culture.