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Amid shifting labour market, job seekers want salary details upfront


Last year, Tivona Ko applied for over 100 jobs and ended up taking phone interviews with around 25 companies. Very few of these employers had included salary ranges in their job postings.

“It becomes taxing to sell yourself but not know what you are getting in return for the position,” said the 24-year-old Torontonian, who eventually landed a job in talent acquisition.

Ko says she wouldn’t waste time applying for the lower-paying job if two similar positions pay $36,000 and $60,000, given that she needs a minimum of $60,000 to live somewhat comfortably in Toronto.

In addition to helping candidates ensure a job is financially feasible, pay transparency helps reduce some of the stress for applicants during the job application process. It has benefits for employers and current employees as well, since uninterested candidates screen themselves out before the interview process begins and those on staff can find out if their own compensation is in line with incoming employees.

Since most employers Ko saw didn’t offer salary information on their job ads, Ko did her own market research and chatted with friends to make an educated guess at what the appropriate salary range might be.

On May 15, employers in New York City must provide a good-faith salary range when advertising job opportunities. Amanda Hudson, founder of Toronto HR consultancy A Modern Way to Work, argues that Canadian employers would do well to follow suit.

“Many candidates stress about the final salary negotiation stage when the number is unknown,” said Hudson.

“They worry about stating a number that’s lower than what they could have negotiated, or they worry if they say something too high, they’ll lose the position. Having a clear amount in the job posting reduces this uncertainty and lets candidates focus on what matters in the process.”

Pay transparency also generates goodwill among prospective hires, Hudson said, especially since it’s a candidate’s market right now.

“If a company comes out of the gate with transparency around the role, it starts to build trust with employees very early in the process before they even get hired.”

According to Hudson, current employees also benefit from pay transparency because it creates a more equitable internal compensation system with the organization. When companies post salaries within a narrowly defined range, they’re providing data and insights to everyone else working in the company.

“It promotes this level of equity because companies are not going to post a salary if they know that someone’s being deeply underpaid, for example,” she said. “Usually with our clients that’s the initial resistance.”

In her own consulting business, Hudson declines to take on recruiting gigs unless clients agree to post a salary range in their ads.

When clients realize there’s pay inequity in their own company, they’ll often internally correct someone’s salary before making the posting, she said.

Pay transparency also gives employers a leg up amid labour shortages and a war for talent.

In the current environment, the recruitment process needs to move quickly, Hudson said. When employers are specific about a salary range, it saves them time in the recruitment process because it deters applicants with different salary expectations from applying.

If you’re a company that’s hidden the salary and only makes an offer after spending extensive time reviewing applications, screening and interviewing, the whole deal can fall apart if the offer is less than the candidate needs or expected, Hudson said.

If you share the salary in advance, however, there’s often no need to negotiate. And, if there is negotiating, it’s usually within a $10,000 range, which is often doable for companies, she said.

Showing pay upfront also helps reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process, she added. It shows you’ve decided on what the job is worth, rather than what the candidate is worth, which also helps establish pay equity in your company.

Hudson’s rule of thumb for listing salaries is to provide a maximum $5,000 range if not the exact number itself for positions under $80,000. If the job falls within $80,000 to $130,000 per year, Hudson recommends listing up to a $10,000 range.

For larger salaries, Hudson might include a wider salary range since candidates could have a more extensive range of experience. “There’s more room to play,” she said.

But, when it comes to lower salaries, the more specific the better.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2022.

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