Evaluating the impact of a ‘competitive salary’ in a placement job advertisement on different student groups: Final Report of a 2023 ASET Student Research Bursary Project

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Despite the prevalence of the term ‘competitive salary’ in job advertisements (ads), nearly all students surveyed prefer a stated salary value. This tension is important to investigate, as previous job ad research demonstrates small changes to job ad content can affect the perception of the role being advertised. This study utilised a ‘secret shopper’ methodology to explore the impact of a ‘competitive salary’ vs. a stated salary value in identical placement job ads on University students’ perceptions of the role being advertised. A ‘competitive salary’ significantly reduced the likelihood of a respondent indicating they would apply for the role being advertised. Analysis of data by indicators of student disadvantage demonstrated that female students and students from low participation in Higher Education backgrounds were significantly less likely to apply for a role advertised with a ‘competitive salary’ than male students or counterparts from high participation in HE backgrounds. We conclude that a ‘competitive salary’ in a job ad is not desirable or inclusive as it disproportionately deters disadvantaged student groups. Our findings highlight positive action that placement practitioners could take to reduce pay ambiguity in job ads and promote access and participation in work placement. Supporting student engagement with work placement, particularly for disadvantaged groups, is important for inclusive practice given the robust evidence that placement enhances student employability and graduate employment outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSheffield
Number of pages53
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2023

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