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When Should Salary be Discussed in the Recruitment Process?

  • October 14, 2021
When Should Salary be Discussed in the Recruitment Process?

A few weeks ago, we put out a poll via LinkedIn, asking the question: “At what stage should salary information be available when applying directly to a company?”

This was clearly an emotive topic, as the poll received over 3,300 votes and 90 comments sharing thoughts and debating various points.

The results were as follows:

  • Salary should be on the advert – 62%
  • First screening with TA/HR – 28%
  • 2nd or 3rd interview – 6%
  • Final interview/offer stage – 5%

The results speak for themselves; people feel that salaries should be discussed sooner, rather than later, but is this likely to happen in the current market?

If you are a candidate who is actively looking for a new role and has multiple interviews ongoing, it can be an exhausting process, particularly when some processes could be concluded far earlier if salary information was known. As one commenter said: “In a restaurant, would you choose something from a menu with no prices?”

The lack of clarity at an early stage can make the recruitment process inefficient and ineffective for both candidates and companies, particularly as similar job titles have huge variations in salaries attributed to them.

The impact on recruitment

A company recently advertised a position with a Controller job title, resulting in over 70 applications, but salary was not addressed until the final interview stages. Ultimately, salary differences ruled out the preferred candidates, meaning a lot of time had been wasted on both sides, without achieving a result. Our extensive market knowledge means we know the role attracted interest from people looking for between 150-300k CHF, despite the salary available being below 200k CHF.

EMEA Recruitment then supported the company and provided a shortlist of candidates who met both the job and salary criteria within a very short space of time, resulting in a successful appointment.

Will things ever change?

We do not think the commercial sector will revert to adding salaries to their advertisements, primarily for reasons of confidentiality with regards to current employees.

This is one of the key reasons why hiring will continue to move to recruitment consultancies, particularly in a competitive recruitment climate where the process needs to be as efficient and speedy as possible.

As an agency, although we don’t typically advertise salaries on our adverts, we always discuss packages with people in the first conversation we have with them about a job, to ensure an efficient and transparent process.

Our job is to engage with the best talent in the market and, just because one role we are recruiting for might not fit, we will often have another opportunity that will. Very often, by having a chat with someone, we get a sense of other companies or roles that could be a match for them, which wouldn’t be possible if they didn’t apply.

As competition for high quality individuals has increased, we have recent examples of companies paying up to 30k CHF above the planned salary in order to secure a highly sought-after individual.

As recruitment professionals, our job is to be transparent with all parties. Therefore, we sit firmly in the camp of checking salaries at the first screening/interview stage, and to continue checking at every stage of the process, just in case something has changed along the way.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this report, current market conditions or our recommendations for a smooth recruitment process, whether as a candidate or a hiring/recruitment manager, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Emma Feneley, Senior Consultant for Finance & Accountancy recruitment in Switzerland: