Show Them the Money: The Small Way to Build a Big Pool of Candidates

execunetselect-tomcruise-show-me-the-money“Show me the money!”

It’s one of the most memorable movie quotes ever. I’ll never forget sports agent Tom Cruise shouting it to his star client in the critically acclaimed movie Jerry Maguire.

It can work for you too.

Very simply, if you want your recruitment ads to stand out from other companies and get the attention of more candidates, you need to do one thing:

Show them the salary!

I know… You’re thinking you couldn’t possibly do that. But keep reading. I’ll share why, how, and give you a real-life example that worked.

Being transparent about compensation in job descriptions can save you time, establish credibility with candidates, and put an end to the always-awkward conversation about money later in the recruiting process.

A survey by Glassdoor revealed that lack of compensation information is the #1 frustration among job candidates.

I’m not surprised.

As a lifelong headhunter, there’s nothing more disappointing (for both parties) than investing time and energy in the interview process, only to find out that there’s an irreconcilable gap between the salary needs of the candidate and the salary offer from the company.

In today’s labor market, the tightest in 50 years, virtually no strong candidate switches jobs without at least a bump in salary. (The average bump, in case you’re wondering, is 18%.)

Lack of compensation information is the #1 frustration among job candidates.

Posting the actual salary in your job ad (instead of the phrase “competitive compensation”) and revealing it to candidates you’re recruiting directly will put you at a big advantage over companies that delay talking about salary until they’re ready to make a job offer. By then, it’s too late.

Years ago, when unemployment was at or near double digits, there was a certain logic to waiting until the end of the hiring process to reveal your salary offer. Good jobs were scarce and you could always negotiate upwards if the candidate balked at your first offer. Why risk overpaying?

In today’s market, if you come in with a lowball offer, you risk losing the candidate altogether, particularly if the person has other options and stronger offers on the table.

Research shows that including the salary in your job description will deliver a number of benefits:

  • More candidates: A study by SMART Recruit Online found that when job ads include a salary range, they attract more than 30% more candidates.
  • Happier candidates: Over 70% of professionals want to hear about salary in the first message from a recruiter, according to LinkedIn.
  • Employer differentiation: With less than 50% of U.S. companies including salary information in their job ads, you have a chance to set yourself apart from your competitors.

Make it a job Invitation, not a job description.

In addition to listing a salary, you can attract more interest from candidates by writing compelling job invitations that emphasize the long-term opportunities in the position you’re trying to fill and describe the great things about working for your company.

As I’ve discussed previously, most job descriptions discourage people from applying because they are written from the perspective of the employer and overemphasize the stringent requirements of the position.

Here’s an example of a recent great job ad that describes the position with absolutely no jargon and explains exactly what the company is looking for and the application process.

Oh yes, it also includes the salary ($181,000).

I love this paragraph from the ad:

“This is a role for someone who knows how to mix a wild idea with a practical pitch. Someone who’s who has an eye for talent, a nose for bullshit, ears close to the ground, and the creative mind of a conductor.”

Why aren’t more job ads written this way?

Instead, the vast majority of ads are mind-numbing, boring and filled with a long list of must-haves that frequently have little to do with the reality of the job and what it takes to succeed in the position.

Remember, in addition to compensation, top performers are looking for three things: a challenging environment that encourages their best work; work/life integration; and job stability.

To attract these kinds of candidates, you must deliver a job value proposition that describes your company’s mission and growth trajectory and the challenges and career potential of the position you seek to fill.

If you’re like most employers, your job descriptions need work.

Hire a copywriter, focus on what you can offer candidates and talk to your best employees about what they like most about your company. But most of all, include compensation details right upfront. Candidates will appreciate it and you’ll be free to focus entirely on finding the best person for the job.

Let’s end the hiring salary dance once and for all.

Show them the money!

Jeff Hyman

Jeff Hyman

Jeff Hyman launched his recruiting career at Heidrick & Struggles and Spencer Stuart, the preeminent global executive search firms. Today, he’s Chief Talent Officer at Chicago-based Strong Suit Executive Search. Along the way, Jeff created four companies, backed by $50 million in venture capital. He currently teaches the MBA course about recruiting at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and hosts the five-star Strong Suit Podcast. Jeff has been featured by Inc., Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg, and other media outlets. He holds a master’s degree from Kellogg School of Management and a bachelor’s degree from The Wharton School.

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