Jobsearch: The importance of being upfront about pay and conditions

‘Put it out there from the beginning and take the ask out for individuals,’ says career psychologist

In a recent article in the Pittsburgh Business Times, reporter Nate Doughty wrote that companies who struggled to fill roles got thousands of applications when they raised the salary, leading to a wider pool to hire from and happier workers. So, should companies here be upfront from the outset – perhaps even in the job ad – about pay and conditions?

Dave Gibney, trade unionist and co-host of the Week at Work podcast, says that employees value respect and dignity, security of hours and pay. "Full employment means a worse market for workers, where employers are nicer and offer higher wages when there are shortages. Look at pay and conditions and consider the approach of the company to making this information available."

In the arts industry, staff spend notoriously large amounts of time pulling together funding applications and Gibney says that the amount of time and energy job applicants have to spend is comparable. “You have to work so hard to pull your application without even knowing what the pay is. If companies want someone to put the effort in, they should be upfront.”

We asked the DCU careers service if they agreed.


“Best practice suggests that advertising the salary range from the outset is very useful,” says Yvonne McLoughlin. “However, some companies choose not to disclose for competitive reasons. During the screening process, recruiters sometimes ask what candidates’ salary expectations are and it is important that graduates have their research completed and be ready to answer.”

In most colleges, graduates can still avail of their careers service for two years and they can point you towards salary norms.

“Generally, employers begin disclosing the salary at the final stages of selection. If it is critical for the graduate to know the salary, enquiring after the interview can often be an appropriate time to do so. From reviewing our Jobs Board there is a mixed approach to salary disclosure depending on the industry and roles being advertised. Some companies indicate a salary range, others use terminology such as competitive. Where students see competitive salary and conditions advertised, this generally means the salary is in line with that industry norms.”

Elaine Daly and Siobhán Murphy add that salary is one component – albeit an important one – of a wider pay and benefits package, and that opportunities to develop, flexible work, mentoring and job stability and security matter, too.

Sinéad Brady, a career psychologist who works with a wide range of firms, advises companies to be upfront. “We work to get paid, not as a favour. Companies should be transparent and let people know what they can expect to be paid. What’s the reluctance? In any case, legislation on the gender pay gap – which will require employers above a certain size to publish pay differences between male and female employees – means that the information will come out anyway. Put it out there from the beginning and take the ask out for individuals because it’s really hard to ask an organisation about it. Ultimately, a firm will have a stronger bottom line in a human workplace built on good relationships.”