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Indicative salaries on job adverts

I posted something on Twitter and indicated that it was not prudent to ask about the package in the middle of a job interview in our Zimbabwean job market. I was seriously accused of wanting to promote slavery perpetrated by employers. Far from it, the logic in my tip was that in a country with high unemployment, if you ask for the salary on offer in a job interview, you are likely to be perceived as having a mercenary attitude. Our situation is unique from what is happening in other jurisdictions.

If I had my way, I would want every employer advertising for jobs to indicate the package on offer. There are so many advantages that accrue to the employer if they disclose the package on offer.

When you disclose the package on offer in the job advert, you help candidates for the job to self-select. If the money is too low those, who want more will be excluded. Without  clarity on the package, you are likely to attract many people who would not have applied had they known the package.

Putting a salary range on the job advert and other perks will help the organisation attract candidates. While others have argued that it will attract mercenary-type candidates, I know of no scientific evidence to support this conclusion.  As outlined above, candidates get attracted to job adverts mostly by the package on offer.

In a study by Linkedin, they found that the first thing a job candidate would like to hear from a recruiter is the package on offer. They put the percentage of people in this group at 70% of job applicants.  This is a big number employers can not ignore if they want to attract the right candidates.

In the Twitter discussion on the same subject, I would say that 80% of the respondents said they need to know the salary in the advert or at the first contact with the recruiter. The reason is that this would help them decide on whether to proceed or not to the interview stage. Some even indicated that some recruiters had wasted their time by calling them for interviews only to disclose a non-competitive salary at the end.

A study by Glassdoor shows that 76% of job seekers are motivated by money when applying for a job. Employers who display the package on offer are likely to get better candidates than those not showing the package.

Other research has shown that the application rate to job adverts drastically increases when the job adverts list the package on offer, including benefits.

Given the above findings, why are organisations, especially in Zimbabwe, unwilling to display the package on offer on the advert? I have noted that only international NGO-type organisations show the package on offer when they advertise for jobs.  I tried to engage some HR colleagues on why job adverts generally do not display the package on offer in this market.  I list below some of the reasons cited.

They noted that the salaries in some instances are so low that if they were to display them, they would go viral and damage the organisation’s brand as an employer. For that reason, they are safe not disclosing.

Some noted that most organisations lack pay transparency. Internal employees have no clue on how and why they are paid what they are getting. Suppose a job advert was to display the package for a position in such an organisation. In that case, it’s likely to cause discontent, especially when the target job pays more than what is considered unfair compared to similar roles within the organisation.

Which currency will you display the package in? Some cited the use of a multi-currency system as the constraint. While the use of multi-currency is a reality, I found the excuse not valid as they could display the currency predominantly in use in their organisation.

Others accused organisations of taking the issue of confidentiality to a counterproductive level. Generally, organisations in Zimbabwe are so secretive above salaries. Even collecting information for salary surveys is a nightmare. The same organisations want to know about prevailing market trends, but they do not wish to contribute to the market surveys.

Some have cited a hostile industrial relations climate as the constraint. They are afraid that unionised staff who always feel underpaid may raise equity issues that may disturb the industrial climate in the organisation.

While organisations in Zimbabwe have reasons for not wanting to display salary packages on the job advert, I believe this practice is largely counterproductive. Organisations will likely attract candidates they can not afford, thereby wasting money interviewing candidates they can not afford.  You can imagine the added cost of readvertising such roles. We have seen even candidates declining job offers because they felt the remuneration was uncompetitive. We have also heard candidates saying they would have refused to attend the interview if they had known the package  in advance.

Unlike in other jurisdictions, Zimbabwe corporates are extremely reluctant to display salary packages when they advertise for jobs.

My view is that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. If your employer brand is good, your pay transparency is good, and your industrial relations climate is good, there is no reason why you should not be following this noble international practice.

Nguwi is an occupational psychologist, data scientist, speaker and managing consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and HR consulting firm. Visit ipcconsultants.com.

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