Pay transparency in job postings leads to more applicants and better candidates, research says

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It pays to be transparent about pay — for companies as well as employees.

Putting pay transparency in job listings has led to more applicants for those positions, as well as an increase in qualified candidates, according to new research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

States like California, Colorado and Washington have started requiring employers to include pay ranges in job listings, and New York state will join that group September. New York City has already implementing pay-transparency measures.

Read more: Employers in these two states now post salary ranges for job listings. Millions of workers will now have more pay transparency.

So SHRM, a business organization whose stated goal is to create better workplaces and to elevate the human resources profession, released a survey on Equal Pay Day that found 70% of organizations that listed pay ranges in their job descriptions saw an increase in total applications to their posted positions.

In addition, 65% of organizations who responded to the survey said that listing pay ranges on job postings makes their company more competitive in attracting top talent. 

The survey polled 1,386 U.S.-based HR professionals, representing companies of varying sizes and industries, between Feb. 21 and Feb. 27, 2023.

“The path toward equity requires more than recognizing that there are systemic gaps that adversely impact one group over another and then addressing them proactively,” Emily M. Dickens, SHRM’s chief of staff and head of public affairs, said in a statement. “It requires more directed education on the compensation process, increased engagement with compensation specialists and HR professionals, and an understanding of how to leverage one’s talent through personal advocacy when armed with this information and allyship within the organization.” 

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And it’s not just the total quantity of applicants that rises when a posting lists a pay range — it’s quality, too.

Roughly 66% of organizations that list pay ranges also said that doing so has led to a jump in the overall “quality of applicants” that they’re seeing, according to the survey.

“With pay transparency, the genie is out of the bottle and there is no going back,” Maggie Hulce, executive vice president and general manager of enterprise at job site Indeed, said in a statement.

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But here’s a data point employers might be less enthused about: Some 36% of organizations also said that including salary transparency in job postings has to an increase in their current employers asking management for a raise.

Case in point: a recent Twitter thread went viral after an NYC-based UX (user experience) writer saw a job posting for a staff position at her company that advertised paying $32,000 to $90,000 more than she was making for doing the same job, but as a contractor.

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