The top three salary questions we are asked from employers are:

  • “Should we keep the salary hidden?”
  • “Can we say ‘competitive’ salary?”
  • “What is the candidate’s current salary?”

We discourage partners asking for a candidate’s current salary. Instead, we encourage them to advertise salary details and ask a candidate’s salary expectations in relation to the advertised range.

Not only does this show respect and value for a candidate’s time, creates an inclusive and fair culture and combats the gender and ethnic pay gap.

3 reasons to show the salary

1. Equality

Pay gaps are still very much prevalent, especially in marginalised groups such as women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ and certain ethnic groups. In October 2022, ACEVO reported that the pay gap for charity CEO’s is widening.

Offering roles based on current/previous salaries and not showing salaries means that those who are under-paid remain in that pay gap cycle.

Conversely, this also assumes that people won’t take on a role with a lesser salary or responsibility if offered. However, they be looking for a change of career, sector or work-life balance – by hiding the salary, you may be missing out on talent.

Harvard Business Review found that when companies actively chose not to base salary on a candidate’s current or previous salary, pay increased for black candidates by 13% and for women by 8%.

2. Transparency

Is honesty or integrity one of your organisation’s values? By not showing the salary, you raise questions of broader transparency and whether the new role will be in line with the salaries of existing employees. Your current team may wonder if you are paying a higher salary in comparison to their pay potential, and candidates may think this new role will have a lower salary compared to long-standing employees who have had raises based on longevity of service; but they don’t necessarily have the technical skills and knowledge the role now requires.

If the role has a salary range but you are unable to appoint at the upper end, only advertise what you are willing to offer up to. This means that potential candidates are not being given unrealistic expectations of what you would be willing to pay. It’s helpful to include in the advert that financial progression is available within the role based on annual pay reviews, performance and so on.

Charitable organisations paying more than £60k for a role need to declare this in annual accounts. It’s sensible to show the figure in the advert and get the benefit from doing so since it will be public knowledge anyway.

3. Efficiency

Recruiting can be time-consuming and expensive. By hiding a salary, strong candidates will be discouraged from applying, especially as many roles have subjective job titles which offer no real indication of the seniority required. Either candidates won’t apply, or you will have to expect calls from potential applicants asking for these details before they apply.

Those who do apply and find out the salary later may be underqualified or withdraw, as the salary does not meet their expectation, wasting your time shortlisting candidates and arranging interviews.

Using ‘competitive’ instead of actual figures will have a similar outcome. How does a candidate qualify what competitive is? “Competitive” in one organisation’s eyes could be well below par in another’s.

For instance, an organisation we recently partnered with didn’t want a salary advertised. They were willing to pay up to £100k but due to their size, it was assumed by potential candidates that the salary would only be around half this amount. The organisation spent a large amount on an external advertising campaign that yielded no return on investment as those who applied via this route were underqualified.

Many job boards have shared evidence of this – JobSite reported a 25-35% drop in candidates when salaries are hidden, and CharityJob found that by publishing a salary you are likely to get twice the number of successful applications.

In a competitive and niche market, showing a salary and not judging based on someone’s current title and salary is key to ensuring you attract the best talent. It demonstrates you are making an offer based on what someone can do.

It will save you time, avoiding having to answer queries regarding pay, whilst also ensuring you don’t have to rerun a potentially long and expensive recruitment process.

Most importantly, it will show you value and respect candidates’ time, as well as having an open and honest internal culture with your staff.

We understand that salary information can be useful. In fact, we’ve previously written about why we ask candidates about their salary. However, this practice should be in line with supporting candidates, addressing inequality and fighting for parity.


Kristina Preston is our Head of Awarding and Skills Appointments. With extensive recruitment experience at every level across education and skills sectors, Kristina uses her expertise to proudly support our partners to recruit brilliant candidates in this niche area of the UK and worldwide education system. She also works closely with the Federation of Awarding Bodies on our strategic relationship as their Platinum Supplier of executive search, recruitment and board development services. You can connect with Kristina on Linkedin or send her an email.