The Human Price Tag

As a student in introductory Marketing, you would learn about the "4 P's" that make up the fundamental marketing mix: PRODUCT, PRICE, PROMOTION and PLACE. No single element can lead to market success, but the failure of any one thing can trigger disastrous results.

Photo by n0r
Let's take PRICE,  for instance. Wal-Mart achieves mass market penetration by guaranteeing the lowest prices to consumers. They have stores everywhere (PLACE). They sell a whole lot in each of them (PRODUCT selection). They may make pennies on each sale, but they have tremendous volume. But everyone understands that PRICE is the key motivator when you pull into one of their 20 acre parking lots. They PROMOTE low PRICEs and post them quite clearly on every ad, aisle and newspaper circular.

Not communicating price, however, can be quite profitable. Car dealerships are masters of this technique. They get you in because of their cool, new sportcars (PRODUCT) and sexy commercials (PROMOTION). Then the haggling begins. They negotiate the PRICE based on what they think each rube shopper is willing to pay.

These days, HR professionals act more like used car salesmen, as far as PRICE is concerned. Salary Commensurate with Experience. Competitive Pay. Sound familiar?

GenY and Millenials have grown up in a world with vast amounts of data at their fingertips. Internet access and social media sharing have led to unprecedented transparency on all things -- and that includes people's salaries. The Wall Street Journal reported how young workers are sharing their salary secrets.

Discussion boards, manufacturer's costs and online reviews have completely upended the car dealership business. As sites like Glassdoor and lift the veils of mystery away, HR pros need to know that their leverage is gone now too.


With salary banding being more commonplace, shouldn't online job listings publish the salary ranges? Aren't you wasting everyone's time (and money) if you advertise to the recruit who is demanding top dollar, but you hide the (low) salary you can afford? Do you find yourself sifting through piles of ill-matched applications?

It's controversial, I know, to boldly put a human price tag on job listings. There are ramifications to  the candidates and your existing employees. Plainly stating the salary range, however, can help to match you up with candidates who are willing to accept your offer of employment, and it maintains transparency to everyone.

After all, the information is already out there -- and it's not ever going to go back to the way it was.

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