Salary is every employer’s ace in the hole

Posted: Aug 29  |  By: Janet Berry-Johnson

It’s a tough time for employers struggling to fill empty positions. The Labor Department recently released figures that unfortunately don’t show any signs of the tight labor market releasing its grip. U.S. filings for unemployment benefits fell for the third week in a row and remain near the lowest in almost five decades, while payrolls are climbing at a regular pace. There is a lot of competition for the people you want to hire. How can you get ahead when EVERY employer is touting hip new perks? Everything from mentorship programs to collaborative culture; flexible work arrangements and community involvement? This might not be what you were hoping to hear, but it will probably come down to one thing: salary.

A look at the data

Read any article on hiring. You’re bound to hear that salary is not the only factor candidates consider when weighing job offers. That’s true, but salary and compensation packages are still at the top of a candidate’s priority list. Let’s take a look at the research.

A 2018 survey from Glassdoor found that 67% of job seekers consider salary and benefits to be a critical piece of information they look for when researching job ads. That research backs up a previous LinkedIn survey. It asked 450 users to review sample job advertisements. Then it generated a heat map based on what drew their interest. A majority of respondents were attracted to pay and benefits information, an indication that including salary ranges in job advertisements can provide a competitive edge when you’re trying to attract the right candidates.

The low down on down low salary information

Historically, many employers kept salary information out of their job ads because they enjoyed having the advantage in salary negotiations. Consider a company planning to hire a Senior Accountant. The department heads have a pay range in mind of, say $60,000 to $70,000. But they don’t include that information in their job ads. Instead, interviewers get candidates to share their salary expectations first. If the employer finds a qualified candidate willing to do the job for $55,000, they’ll save $5,000 by keeping their own salary range out of the conversation.

Why transparency matters

The power play described above can put you at a significant disadvantage in today’s hiring market. Whether your candidates are perusing job ads or fielding cold calls from recruiters, they’re going to be selective in which jobs they apply for. Applying for jobs and going on interviews takes time. Transparent salary information makes clear whether the candidate should spend their time on your job opening. The more you have to offer in that job ad, the higher caliber of qualified applicants you’ll attract.

Of course, money isn’t the only driver of employee satisfaction. A 2017 survey from Qualtrics and Accel Partners found that 91 percent of Millennial workers say they’re most attracted to a new job by salary and benefits, but perks like long-term job security, flexible hours, mentorship opportunities, rapid growth and talented coworkers could convince them to accept a lower salary offer.

Just keep in mind that cash is still king. If you don’t put your best foot forward with a competitive salary, you may not get a chance to make top candidates aware of all you have to offer.

Download our 2019 Salary Guide!