The Number One Reason You Should List Salary Ranges on Nonprofit Job Postings

Over and over, I see job postings from nonprofit organizations that don’t list salaries. Instead, they say things like, “Salary shall be commensurate with experience.”, or “The company offers a competitive wage and excellent fringe benefits package including health, dental and life insurance, and tuition reimbursement.” It’s nice to know there are benefits, but the salary range is still the primary piece of information.

Employers have budgeted ranges for each posting, so why can’t they disclose the details? Do they hope they can find someone who will work for less than they budgeted? No one would admit to doing that, but it is likely that some organizations do it. Are they embarrassed by how little they are paying? They need to be upfront about it, and then work to change that in the future. Are they just following the lead of corporate job postings? How about doing something different and being transparent about what you are able to pay?

The number one reason to post salary ranges is to start off the relationship between the employee and employer based on trust. If you are hiding the salary range from the candidate, what else are you hiding about the position or your organization? In the hiring process, the employer has most of the power and knowledge. They know what they can pay, they know what qualifications they are looking for, and they know the working conditions. The candidate may also be holding something back, understandably, but there’s a lot less they are hiding, and they’ll be more motivated to share if the employer is disclosing all the details.

There are plenty of other reasons to post the salary information. For example, you may attract new candidates. Lots of people in traditional for-profit positions have never considered a nonprofit job, and wouldn’t have any idea what they would pay. But a good nonprofit job can pay on par with a traditional retail or customer service position, and that person could bring invaluable skill sets to your organization.

In addition, posting the salary range is going to save you, as the employer, time. Many years ago, an organization I worked for decided to hire its first development director. We made the salary range clear in the job description, knowing that it was low and that we were only going to attract entry-level applicants. This made the hiring process much easier. The applicants were willing to work for what we were paying, as a way to get started in development work. We didn’t waste anyone’s time by interviewing someone who couldn’t accept the job, nor did we get our hopes up with unrealistic expectations of who we could hire.

To add insult to injury, some employers then ask candidates what salary range they are seeking in an interview. This really puts a candidate on the spot when they don’t know the full details of benefits and would like to have a fuller discussion of what the position entails before getting into discussing salary ranges. It results in an awkward discussion, with the employee afraid they will either lowball the amount and wind up being underpaid, or state an amount too high and price themselves out of the job altogether.

Why do employers not put salaries on their job posts? Here are a few reasons they cite:

Some employers don’t want their staff to know how much each employee is making, which just doesn’t hold water. Employees find out, either from talking with each other or from public sources. For example, the salaries of all executive directors are in the organization’s 990, as well as other top management staff, if applicable. Sharing salary information creates an open and trusting culture for the organization, which benefits both employees and the nonprofit.

Employers say if they post a salary range and wind up hiring someone who is at the lower end, that person will be disappointed. However, if you have explained clearly the salary range upfront, and the levels of experience you expect for the high end, you should be able to explain to the person you want to hire why you are offering the amount that you are. It will also give them an incentive to work hard, knowing they can achieve higher than average pay increases over time.

Employers may be willing to stretch the top of their salary range for a fantastic candidate, but they don’t want to advertise that fact, so they are afraid that by posting the salary range those candidates won’t apply. In fact, a good candidate will still apply if they really want the position, hoping they can negotiate. I had past experience with a candidate who applied, and told us in the interview their salary requirements. This person was such a good fit that we decided to meet those requirements. In hindsight, it was an excellent choice for the organization.

Posting a job listing is your first interaction with a potential candidate, and including the salary range represents you as an open and fair employer. How do you want to start your relationship with your future employees?

Additional resources:

Vu Le at Nonprofit AF shares more reasons in Not showing the salary range in job postings is archaic and inequitable.

This article talks about why all employers should be posting salary ranges, including showing that they will get 30% more job applicants and that younger generations are expecting to see it.

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