Is sharing salary information on job postings a competitive advantage for employers?

As companies look for new ways to attract talent in today's competitive labor market--the U.S. unemployment stood at 3.8 percent in February--whether or not to advertise a position's salary has become a hotly contested topic. Fifty-one percent of employers don't currently make this information available in job ads or to early-stage candidates, according to a survey of more than 5,000 companies in LinkedIn's 2019 Global Talent Trends report released in January. However, the tide could start to change: 22 percent of respondents say they're likely to start sharing salary information for open positions within the next five years.

"Candidates will jump ship if it's not on the job posting," says Mark Lobosco, the vice president of talent solutions of LinkedIn. "The reality is the world is becoming more transparent, from salary information to what the experience is like working at the company."

To be sure, LinkedIn has its own reasons for wanting you to reveal salary data: The company uses the information to help estimate salary ranges for open jobs, which it shares with "Premium" members. A 2017 poll from career site Glassdoor found that 98 percent of job seekers believe it would be helpful to see pay ranges on job descriptions. 

In some cases, pay transparency can help streamline negotiations and guarantee that interviews focus on other topics besides salaries, LinkedIn's report found. Disclosing salary ranges in advance can also ensure fair pay between different genders and races. 

OneStaff Medical, an Omaha-based supplemental staffing business for healthcare companies, (No. 970 on the 2018 Inc. 5000), has been transparent about salaries with both prospective hires and current employees since its founding in 2010, says Michael McQueen, the company's branch manager of recruitment. Salary ranges are published on job postings, discussed in interviews, and available to all 130 employees.

If and when the base pay of a position changes, OneStaff Medical sends an internal memo to all staff. McQueen says the policy has helped the company attract and retain talent, and that pay transparency can also lead to advancement clarity by showing current employees how they can grow within a business.

"When people know their boss or manager took the same steps that they are in now, you get more understanding from employees," McQueen says. "You start off with a higher level of trust than if you're worried about someone getting hired at an unfair rate."

At Seattle-based management consulting firm Bridge Partners Consulting (No. 4153 on the 2018 Inc. 5000), founder Richard Albrecht views pay transparency as a competitive disadvantage. Publicly sharing salary ranges, he says, can give rival firms an opportunity to poach talent away from the company. For this reason, Bridge Partners doesn't include salary ranges on postings for open positions.

"We are in a very competitive environment," Albrecht says. "If someone doesn't work for us, our competitor will hire them."

Even if you decide against pay transparency, sites like Glassdoor may already post estimated salary ranges for open positions at your company based on compensation data submitted anonymously. Putting more precise salary information in the job description itself may be the best strategy for attracting candidates.