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Our Study Reveals The Extent Of Job Ads With Undisclosed Salaries

Pent up demand during the pandemic, the pursuit of greater job flexibility, and the cost-of-living crisis squeezing household budgets means people are moving jobs and changing careers at record rates in the U.S. and the UK.

The Great Resignation, or more aptly named ‘The Great Reshuffle’, has many Americans rethinking their career. In fact, 47 million workers quit their jobs in 2021 and, of those, 53% changed their occupation or field of work. 

Similarly, according to the latest figures, it’s estimated three percent of the UK workforce switched roles between April and June 2022 alone—up from 1.7% in Q3 2020.

Pay is a major factor in whether a candidate applies for or decides to take a job. But our investigation has found 57% of U.S. job ads have hidden salaries, and 35% of UK job ads do too.

Check out the full data in the interactive table below.

Department
  • Marketing
  • IT
  • Finance
  • HR
  • Sales
  • Operations
Advertised Role
# of Job Ads Analysed
# of Job Ads with Salary Undisclosed
% of Job Ads with Salary Undisclosed
Chief Marketing Officer
17
12
71%
Marketing Specialist
268
152
57%
Head of Marketing
101
54
53%
Marketing Director
54
27
50%
Marketing Manager
258
96
37%
Marketing Executive
493
144
29%
Total:
1,191
485
41%

Hidden Salaries in the U.S.

From analyzing over 8,000 U.S. job listings across roles within the most common business departments—Finance, Sales, HR, IT, Marketing, and Operations—we found that 4,551 ads (57%) failed to disclose the salary on offer to candidates. Instead, “competitive salary” or “depending on experience” are commonly used.

The findings come as the latest figures reveal the number of job openings in the U.S. dropped to 10.1 million in August, but were still above pre-pandemic levels, showing demand for workers remains strong and competition for talent is high.

Looking at the research findings by key business departments, IT roles are the most likely to have hidden salary information on their job ads (66%), followed by Finance (61%) and Operations (56%).

By comparison, job ads for HR and Sales roles were the least likely to hide salary information to candidates—51% and 53%, respectively.

Of the roles analyzed, the highest rates of salary non-disclosure were found in job ads for some senior and C-suite positions. Examples include Head of Finance (91%), Vice President of Marketing (89%), Vice President of Sales (77%) and Head of Operations (75%).

Hidden Salaries in the UK

From analyzing over 6,000 job listings across roles within the same six business departments—Finance, Sales, HR, IT, Marketing, and Operations—we found that 2,130 ads (35%) failed to disclose the salary on offer to candidates.

These findings come as CIPD figures show almost half (47%) of employers report having hard-to-fill vacancies and have raised wages to help offset the issue.

Within specific departments, Marketing roles are the least likely to disclose salary information (41%), followed by sales and operations (35%).

By comparison, advertised roles for IT and HR professionals were the most likely to provide salary details with 27% and 29% failing to disclose, respectively.

Of the roles analyzed, the highest rates of salary non-disclosure were found in job ads for senior and C-suite positions. Examples include Chief Technology Officer (81%), Chief Marketing Officer (71%), Sales Director (59%) and Operations Director (58%).

The Differences in Salary Disclosure in the U.S. and UK

Comparing the UK job market against the U.S., we found U.S. ads were much more likely to hide salary information than in the UK. In the U.S., 57% of salaries were left undisclosed, whilst a smaller but still significant proportion of ads – 35% – were hidden across all UK roles and departments analyzed.

IT roles were the most likely to share salary information in the UK ads (27% hidden), but this is entirely opposite to the U.S. Of the IT roles studied, 66% of U.S. ads had no salary disclosed, the highest proportion of all departments analyzed.

job ads with hidden salaries by department infographic

Why Do Employers Hide Salaries?

There are many reasons why employers hide salary information on job listings.

Firstly, it offers businesses more negotiating power to agree on a salary in the later stages of the recruitment process once they understand the candidate’s expectations and their personal circumstances. 

Hidden salaries are also a key competitive move to stop other similar businesses knowing how much they’re offering for a role and outbidding them to attract talent.

Employers also argue that publicising salary information publicly can cause resentment and demands for pay rises from their existing workforce, if they feel their salary doesn’t fairly compare to what is offered to new recruits. 

It can also create resentment when a candidate accepts a job offer if they know they have given a salary on the lower end of the advertised pay scale.

What are the Impacts of Hidden Salaries?

Today’s job market is skewed in the candidate’s favor due to growth pressures post-pandemic, vacancies taking longer to fill, and widening skills gaps. As such, employers are at risk of missing out on talent or narrowing the type of applications they receive.

Research shows that the pay gap—both for women and minorities—partly stems from the ‘ask gap’. This is the difference in what different groups expect when it comes to salary and how likely they are to get a raise if they ask for one.

The pay gap in the U.S. remains pervasive, with women in full-time employment earning 17% on average less than men in 2020. And studies have found that women who ask for a pay rise, get one 15% of the time, compared to men getting a raise 20% of the time.

A recent YouGov survey, of the 40% of adults who asked for a pay rise, just over a quarter secured one. When broken down by gender, 43% of men asked compared to 33 percent of women. Furthermore, 31% of men were successful, while 21% of women received a pay rise, fueling salary inequality.

Pay transparency can also go a long way in building trust within a workforce, equating to lower turnover rates and greater performance gains. With societal pressures to build transparency, promote truth and close inequalities, organizations opting for hidden salaries may need to rethink to get ahead.

Related read: How To Create A Compensation Philosophy For Better Hiring And Retention

Methodology

From a seed list of job titles in the UK and U.S. by key business department, People Managing People used a scraper tool to collect data from job ads on Indeed that included a certain job title in the position name. 

For each job title, the number of ads stating a salary were identified to find the percentage that shared or hid this information. We also worked out the percentage of ads for each department overall that shared or hid the salary. Any job titles that returned fewer than ten ads were excluded, and all data collection occurred in October 2022.

By Finn Bartram
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