Of the listings on SEEK between April 2022 and May 2023, only around 1 in 4 job ads displayed a salary or salary range.
But when competing for top talent, it's never been more important for your job ad to stand out. Employers, recruiters and small business owners who choose to keep quiet on salary risk receiving fewer applications, and certainly less of the right ones.
Why don't companies advertise the salary?
There are various reasons. It could be that people are keen to get their ads in front of as many applicants as possible, or they may be unsure about the quality of applicants they could attract.
"The company may not have decided where they're going to pitch the salary and once you've put a salary down, it's very hard to walk away from," explains Nina Mapson Bone, managing director at Beaumont People and president and chair of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand.
She says companies may also be trying to avoid potential jealousy or resentment if their staff discover their own salary is lower.
"As soon as you advertise the salary, everybody internally knows what salary that is, and you need to be prepared to have those conversations."
Despite this, she encourages people to disclose the salary on job ads where possible. "The benefits are significant," she says.
The benefits of salary transparency
- You'll attract more people
Having salary visible on a job ad leads to an average increase of 42% in applications, according to research for SEEK. Nearly two thirds (62%) of job seekers find it frustrating when the salary isn't stated, while 69% say they’re more likely to apply for a role that has a salary range listed, and more than 25% simply won’t apply without a visible salary, according to SEEK data.
Reasons applicants want to know the salary up front include saving time and effort, avoiding disappointing income surprises, assessing if the job is an accurate financial fit, and ensuring fair compensation.
"When you put in a salary, you get more applicants and you'll also get a better quality of applicants," Mapson Bone says. Once these people are interested, she says “you actually get to talk about the things that make your company special."
- You'll attract the right people without wasting time with the wrong people
The main benefit of salary transparency is helping to manage expectations from the get-go, which avoids time wasting for applicants and hirers alike.
Take the role of operations manager, Mapson Bone says. "It could be someone who can just muck in, or it could require a highly-skilled and strategic person. The salary could range from $80k to $150k.
"If people don't know the salary, you end up having to have lots of conversations before you even bring them in to say, 'yep this is the range, sorry you're too high or low', or you end up bringing them in for an interview and discovering they're out of your bracket either way."
Lisa Bourke, founder of Brisbane-based boutique content marketing agency Content Hive, says she always puts a salary or salary range on her job ads. "By setting clear expectations from the start, hirers attract candidates who are happy with the position's offerings. This gives you a pool of candidates who are more likely to be a good fit for the position and makes the process a lot easier and faster.
"I hired a new team member earlier this year and it was a very seamless process; there was no need to negotiate terms. "If you are paying above award, or industry average, this can also be a way to stand out from other advertisers," she adds.
- It proves your company has a culture of transparency
Salary transparency fosters a positive impression right from the start, Bourke adds. "Potential candidates immediately perceive the company as fair and honest, and the candidate is appreciative of that honesty."
Mapson Bone says it's a critical time for companies to be authentic. "Workers today, especially Gen Y and Gen Z, have a real belief in meaning and purpose. If they're not told a salary upfront, they may start to worry that there's secrecy across the company or gender pay gaps. This can really affect its reputation externally.
"Salary transparency really helps promote that you have an open and transparent culture."
- It benefits the organisation as a whole
Having accessible salary information can also benefit your current employees by creating a workplace culture where individuals feel appreciated and fairly compensated, Bourke says. "This ultimately results in higher levels of job satisfaction."
Mapson Bone agrees that while advertising a salary may result in some nuanced conversations internally in the short term, it has the potential to benefit everyone in the long term.
"You'll have to give proper feedback to people to let them know why they're not quite in a salary range, which takes time and effort. But this gives people something to work towards, and you get more engagement when they've got that motivation."
Transparency will only become more important
Mapson Bone predicts the benefits of disclosing salaries will only grow.
"In the next five to 10 years we'll have 4.2 million Baby Boomers leaving the workforce and we don't have enough people coming in," she says.
"Even if you're in a position as an employer where you currently have a choice of candidates, that may turn around pretty quickly."
- SEEK ANZ job ad data, January – June 2023.
- Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4800 Australians annually. Published August 2023.