Job Ads with Dollar Ranges

By Rob Peacock

A frequent complaint of job seekers is that job postings within the charitable sector have not listed salary ranges. Many charities have traditionally said things like, “Salary is commensurate with experience,” or “The charity offers a competitive wage and excellent benefits package.”

It’s nice to know there are benefits, including vacation and pension, but the salary range is arguably the most important part of information that any job seeker wishes to know in evaluating a potential opportunity. In fact, it is critical to ensuring a rigorous and successful hiring process for both the employer and the employee.

Charities must begin the relationship between the employee and employer based on trust. If a charity is not disclosing the salary range, what else is being withheld about the position or the organization?

Being transparent works
According to Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, President of the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP), salary ranges in the U.S. must be posted and included in job ads — based on the following rationale:
• First, not including the salary range in a job posting reinforces the salary gaps we see in the fundraising profession and in all of society based on gender, race and other factors.
• Second, this change is all about encouraging transparency.
• Third, salary ranges set expectations from the beginning and ensure there is no surprise about salaries, and that neither party is wasting their time on a candidate or a position that doesn’t meet their salary needs.
• Finally, the salary compensation of any position should be based on the work and value of the position to the organization and its roles and responsibilities.

Charities have budgeted ranges for each posting, so why has there been hesitancy in disclosing those details? Do they hope they may find someone who will work for less than they budgeted? Of course, 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 up front about it, and then work to change that in the future. How about doing something different and being transparent about what you are able to pay?

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.

Posting salary information may help a charity attract new candidates, especially those who may not have considered a charitable job before.

Posting the salary range will ultimately save the employer time. Charities don’t need to waste their time or anyone else’s by interviewing someone who couldn’t accept the job, nor will it allow to get the charity’s hopes up with unrealistic expectations of who they might hire.

Individual salaries remain confidential
To further complicate matters unnecessarily, some employers then ask candidates what salary range they are seeking in an interview. This 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.

Some charities don’t want their staff to know how much each employee is making and that should be respected. Notwithstanding, information that is hidden has its ways of becoming known. Publicly available salary ranges help create an open and trusting culture for the organization, which benefits both employees and the charity. In fact, the public disclosure of salary ranges may increase salary privacy for individuals. While salary ranges may be publicly known, the exact salary earned by an individual remains confidential.

Employers say if they post salary range information and wind up hiring someone who is at the lower end, that person will be disappointed. However, if the charity has explained clearly the salary range up front and the levels of experience they expect for the high end, they should be able to explain to the person they want to hire why they are offering the amount that they are. Similar named position at different sized institutions will have varying salaries. Regardless it will provide them with an incentive to work hard, knowing they may achieve higher than average pay increases over time.

In addition, charities 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 are able to negotiate.

Posting a job listing is the charity’s first interaction with a potential candidate and including the salary range represents you as an open and fair employer.

In addition to posting salary range information, charities should provide as much disclosure as possible and definitely post other forms openness, such as five-year financial statements, the names of board members, and who is on their senior staff. Some charities still don’t include this kind of information.

All hiring managers are looking for an edge to attract the game-changing candidate who excels in their new role. In a very competitive hiring environment, being transparent about salary ranges is a unique tool to highlight your organization’s value and bring qualified and interested candidates to the role.

Transparency opens up many possibilities.

Rob Peacock, MA, CFRE is principal of Peacock Philanthropic Counsel in Toronto.

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