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Letter to Leaders

Put Your Pay (Range) Where Your Mouth Is

I’ve been dealing with CEO’s and business owners over a touchy subject for the past few years.

Well, it’s touchy to them, but it’s a no-brainer to me.

When you’re posting for a job opening, quality candidates expect to see a pay range listed. If they don’t see the pay range, most candidates won’t bother applying. In fact, we see a 70% increase in submitted resumes when a job post includes the pay range.

We’re in the most competitive job market in years. You need every advantage you can get, and this begins with listing your salary range.

Liz Ryan asked this question on Twitter: “Instead of listing all the little perks, why not tell us what the job pays?” I responded thusly:

Let’s face it, C-levels and business owners. If I called right now with a dream job for you, what would be the first question in your mind?


How much does it pay?

So why the reluctance to post pay grades?

I’ve heard every excuse in the world, and none of them are winners. But let’s go through them anyway:

I don’t want other employees to get upset/jealous/know what other employees are making.”

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha. Do you honestly think employees don’t talk about their pay?

Also, why would you worry about such a thing? Are you intentionally not paying your employees enough? Are you worried Employee A might come to you and say, “why is Employee B making more than me?” And you wouldn’t have a good, legitimate response?

“Just say we pay a competitive salary.”

Are you kidding? Competitive compared to what? ‘Competitive salary’ means nothing to anyone anymore.

“I don’t want our competition to know what we’re paying.”

Equally hilarious. Take a good look at, Glassdoor, or a million other websites. Your competition knows what you’re paying. If you don’t think so, you’re delusional.

“There’s more to a job than money.”

Agreed. But there’s nothing more important than that, either.

“Well, what’s next? You’re going to tell me I need to tell everyone my salary too?”

Well, why not? What are you hiding? In fact, transparency might even be a good thing!

We have a long-time client, a law firm in Seattle. An employee engagement survey we conducted revealed employees thought they were being underpaid. What’s more, they were mad because they heard the managing partner was making $2 million per year and that wasn’t fair!

Actually, the managing partner was making less than half that amount. But I still couldn’t talk her into revealing her pay. When there’s a lack of information, gossip will always fill that void.

Trust me, I understand it’s a culture change. But it’s not a privacy issue, it’s culture. Tell people what you’re paying. It helps them understand. You’ll get more qualified candidates, more clarity for your existing employees.

And who knows? Perhaps pay transparency might even lead to a culture of increased trust.

And don’t get me started on “salary range dependent on experience”. Experience means nothing.


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