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Lack of salary detail puts graduates off jobs

May 2022

Employers can increase the number of graduate applicants for vacancies and recruit from a more diverse talent pool if they include a salary in their job adverts

A poll of Prospects' student and graduate research panel, conducted last month, found that just 48% would be prepared to apply for a job where the salary is described as 'competitive'. More than a third (34%) of the 194 respondents would not apply for such a job, and another 19% were unsure, meaning employers could be missing out on talented potential recruits. 

Prospects separately asked panel members what puts them off applying for a job and the following comments were made about competitive and undisclosed salaries:

  • 'I often see 'competitive salary' and I don't want to go to the hassle of applying for a job that turns out not to pay the salary I'd expect.'
  • 'That just makes me think it's really, really low so I just won't bother applying.'
  • 'If a job advert lists a salary as "competitive" or not at all it is immediately off putting.'
  • 'Don't make me submit endless CVs and documents and sit through an interview to find out you're offering 10k less than my current position.'

Without all the details graduates can't make an informed decision about applying for a job.

Without knowing the salary graduates may be left feeling unsure if they can afford to apply for a role. It could feel too risky to spend time on an application when they don't even know if the salary will cover their living expenses.

Lack of salary transparency can also raise doubts in jobseekers minds about an employer's intentions. As one graduate mentioned, an advert including no salary information may cause people to question whether the company will underpay them or offer an excessively low starting salary.

These assumptions may or may not be correct, but without all the details graduates can't make an informed decision about applying for a job. Employers might want to consider adding a salary figure to their job adverts, if they don't already, to avoid missing out on graduate talent. 

Including a salary can also put companies at a competitive advantage. Research from charity sector campaign Show the Salary found that recruiters on one job board received twice the number of applicants when they advertised a salary.1

A salary range on job adverts can also help employers attract diverse talent and help close gender, ethnicity and ability pay gaps.2 Asking about salary expectations instead of listing a figure can leave women with lower offers as studies show women expect lower salaries than men, and they may feel hesitant about negotiating pay to avoid appearing pushy or aggressive.3

The UK government has recently launched a pay transparency pilot in which participating employers publish salaries on all job adverts and stop asking about salary history during recruitment to improve pay inequality.4 This may lead to the government working with employers to develop a methodology to resolve challenges such as non-agreed pay scales, ambiguous pay policies and historic pay decisions that currently stop some employers advertising a salary.5


  1. Why Show The Salary?, Show The Salary.
  2. Put salary bands on your job adverts, Show The Pay, 2021.
  3. How the salary 'ask gap' perpetuates unequal pay, BBC, 2021.
  4. Government launches pay transparency pilot to break down barriers for women, GOV.UK, 2022.
  5. Government launches pay transparency pilot to break down barriers for women, GOV.UK, 2022.

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