5 Reasons You Should Add Salary Budgets To Your Job Descriptions

When a candidate is looking at a job ad and said person wants to know whether - on face value - it could potentially be the opportunity for them, the chances are they’re looking for key pieces of information.

And I’ll bet salary is fairly high up that list.

I have seen the question “should salary be in the job description?” a lot recently - perhaps too much, which suggests that this is not a clear cut question. But I believe it should be.

I’ve heard a few reasons why you might not want to put a salary on your job description - ranging from “we don’t want to put people off applying if our range is only a little way out from what they’re looking for” to “we don’t know what that budget is yet.”


I’ll quickly address that first one - if people think they might want just a little more than you’ve said you’re willing to offer, they’ll still apply if they really find the role interesting and think they have something to add.

But… “we don’t know what that budget is yet” is probably the worst reason I could think of. And I’ve had this a few times. It’s a massive red flag, because if you’ve gone to the trouble of putting a job description out there but haven’t worked out what you can afford to pay, to me it signals one of two things:

  1. You’re disorganised and it shows you haven’t really thought about this. It also suggests a knee-jerk reaction to something that happened in the business - a sudden spike in demand, perhaps
  2. Cash flow is generally a concern - how secure is the opportunity you’re offering… really? I’ll confirm this one when I do my due diligence on the company, but I caught one company out on this point several years ago where they weren’t exactly open and honest about the company’s position until I said at interview, “can you really afford this role? Your accounts suggest otherwise.” They said they could, but less than a year later the company folded.

I have thought about the subject for a while now, but I genuinely cannot see why reason why, as a hiring manager, you would omit the salary on offer. If you flip it the other way, as a purchaser (either in business or personally), we as humans have been psychologically conditioned to think, “this is going to be expensive” when sales teams write “contact for price”. Sales teams want to get as much money from you as possible, and companies want to pay their employees as little as possible - there really is a correlation.

With that said, here are my top 5 reasons you should put the salary on offer in your job description:

Everyone saves time if it’s just not affordable
We’re all adults around here, and we all have bills to pay. So let’s stop pretending we haven’t. Everyone will have a financial base line they cannot go below which covers their bills and the lifestyle they choose. For some this is higher than others - but everyone should know that number when they go into job negotiations. If the salary on offer is a very long way away from the number you set, chances are it doesn’t matter how flexible the company’s budget is, they’re not going to be able to make that happen. I have had a frank and open conversation in the past with a company I was quite interested in, but they were more than £10,000 away from what I was looking for, and it was never going to work. I wished them all the best, but at least I didn’t waste hours going through an interview process to find that out. You need to be able to put food on the table, and it shouldn’t take a multi-stage process to find out if this amazing job with a “leading innovator in their sector” means you’ll be eating beans on toast for the next 3 years.

“Competitive salary” means nothing - use numbers
When you write these words in a job description, how have you benchmarked “competitive”? It’s a subjective assumption that your idea of a competitive number will match mine, but some hiring managers don’t really know what the market average for the role is. Some hiring managers don’t even necessarily know how to quantify the role they’re advertising for. When I’ve asked what “competitive” means in real world numbers, more often than not the number is below average, and in one case was 40% lower than what it should be. Again, let’s not waste people’s time.

Transparency and trust
I sometimes find myself reminding people that recruitment is a two-way street, right? The company is assessing the person’s ability to do the job they’ve applied for, but the person should also be assessing whether the company is a good fit for them. So what better way to give the impression that you don’t trust them, than to hide the salary budget on offer until after you have asked what the candidate’s salary expectations are. The candidate is going to find out what you’re willing to offer anyway - so what’s the point in hiding it?

You’re going to ask for their salary expectations, aren’t you?
Of course you are. What makes you think it’s ok to ask for salary expectations from the candidate fairly early on, but skirt around your own numbers as a business?

It shows you value your employees
Perhaps a less obvious one, but people tend to know what the market average rates are for their experience. So if you post a salary budget on your job description that immediately demonstrates you’re paying more than the market average, that can help give the impression you really value your employees.

If you want to attract the right talent for your role there is definitely a balance, but let’s make it easier for everyone and just put that number out there. Worst case scenario your budget is too low and you get no applicants - but at least you won’t have to waste your time wading through candidates that can’t afford to work for you.