At Staffing Advisors, we’ve long been champions of transparency in hiring. We believe providing candidates with as much relevant detail as possible, including information about pay, is crucial for building trust and finding the right match. Last year, we began recommending that our clients post salaries in job ads. With new legislation and emerging research, here’s a deeper look into what to consider when posting pay ranges publicly.

The Era of Pay Transparency Is Here

Posting salary in job ads is one of the most visible aspects of a transparent compensation strategy, and it’s rapidly becoming the norm.

In a 2024 PayScale study, researchers found that 60% of organizations publish salary ranges when advertising jobs, up from 45% the previous year. Candidates expect it, and as we shared in an earlier post, many will only engage if they know what the job pays.

An increasing number of states are implementing or proposing pay transparency laws, including Maryland (once signed by the Governor, this would go into effect on October 1, 2024) and Washington DC (starting June 30, 2024). Many of these laws require employers to post salary in job advertisements and prohibit asking candidates about their pay history. Find a list of current and proposed legislation here.

This trend is going to continue. Now is the time to prepare your organization, whether your state mandates it or not.

External Transparency Shines a Light on Internal Equity

Publicly posting pay gives current employees a window into your pay equity practices.

Many organizations hired newer employees at higher salaries during the historically tight post-pandemic labor market. Salary budgets in the US are significantly higher than before the pandemic and are expected to remain at these elevated levels. Without adjusting compensation organization-wide, current employees could see their pay as unfair in comparison.

If you don’t have them already, you need a coherent compensation philosophy and staff salary structure before you post salary information publicly.

  • Find a trusted partner who can offer guidance on conducting an internal audit and aligning goals with your mission, values, budget, and the market. (Our team uses SmithPilot to support our clients.)
  • Plan to regularly assess staff salaries, benchmarking pay against market rate for similar work at peer organizations.
  • Develop a strategy to proactively communicate with employees about pay ranges and how individual compensation aligns with the market and their peers.

By addressing discrepancies internally, you can feel confident about publicly posting pay without the risk of retention or performance issues among existing staff.

Be Specific When Sharing Salary Ranges

While you want to leave some negotiating room, be careful about very wide ranges. A 2024 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that people respond negatively to job ads with exceedingly wide pay ranges and see those organizations as less trustworthy.

It can also be helpful to briefly explain your approach. For example:

  • You might want to hire above your range for an exceptional candidate. Instead of posting an overly broad range, indicate that senior-level candidates are encouraged to apply and the final salary will be adjusted based on experience.
  • For remote positions where salary is influenced by geographic location, indicate that the cost of living will be considered and the posted amount represents the full salary spectrum across all operational states.
  • If you are posting the full budgeted salary range for the position but have a target hiring band within that, say what that target is.

And don’t forget to emphasize the total compensation package. If the role offers performance bonuses or benefits like generous paid time off, technology stipends, or strong retirement contributions, make that clear in job postings. These benefits add meaningful value beyond base pay and show how your organization supports and values staff.

Salary Transparency Supports Equity More Broadly

As Zoe Cullen of Harvard Business School noted in her 2024 research, public salary disclosure generally leads to higher wages, especially for job seekers who have been previously underpaid.

Cullen cited “a natural experiment on, a job matching platform geared toward engineers, showed that when women were informed about the median offers that other candidates received across employers, the information resulted in higher offer salaries for women on the platform by 2.6 percent, fully closing the gender gap.”

The Human Rights Campaign includes salary transparency among their recommendations to improve equity for LGBTQ+ workers. The increase in headlines like “Pay Transparency Is Spreading and That’s Good News for Black Workers” signals that these practices promise to address inequity for workers of color. And while research on the positive impacts for workers is limited (for now), committing to transparency and the internal work to back it up is a concrete demonstration of your credibility as an equitable and fair organization.

Don’t Wait

As legislation continues to take root, posting salaries publicly will become a requirement, not an option. Get ahead of the curve with a solid compensation structure and clear internal and external communication. You’ll position your organization to reap the benefits in recruitment and retention while contributing to the nationwide movement to create more equitable workplaces for all.

Explore More