Editorial Comment

No Salary or List Size in the Job Advert 2021

Recruitment Specialists, Reeds say that two thirds of applicants look for a salary in an advert!”

Do you advertise a salary or just the job?

Are you about to advertise a post in your Practice? Maybe it’s your job or a new post such as a Business Manager or Deputy/Assistant Manager.

Here are some points to think about unless you are not in the driving seat and the Partners are simply saying do it this way. I might be wrong, but I would say that there is an upward trend to advertise jobs as a Practice Manager or senior position in a Medical Practice without mentioning a salary (or the list size of the Practice. It’s the same anywhere in the world of recruitment. There is a tendency to say that the salary is either negotiable or dependent on experience. Alternatively, the advert might say that a competitive salary is on offer. But the advert does not mention an annual salary. Can you read the minds of your potential employer?

It’s Our Business

An employer, even in medical practice, may have a business reason for not openly offering a salary in a job advert.

It may regard a salary as commercially sensitive and not want staff in fellow local practices to know what’s on offer. It might also not want its own existing staff to know what they pay their senior staff (or even their junior staff, for that matter). The Practice might even want to pay a lower salary or a much higher salary than they currently pay but not want to openly declare it to all and sundry especially any outgoing Practice Manager. Basically it becomes a mystery. However, declaring a salary might mean that more good candidates might want to apply and move to a better paying Practice. You could argue that Practices in a Primary Care Network should have a common salary structure. So why don’t Medical Practices who are members of a Network have common grading structures? The answer of course is the independent nature of general practice. It’s a matter of each Practice to its own devices.

Applicants look for Betterment

Perhaps the more obvious point about any job applicant is that they surely are looking for a better salary.

By not declaring a salary or salary range in an advert is the employer hoping that candidates will not press for a higher salary? I wonder how many candidates drop out once they realise that the salary offered is inadequate. Certainly, my recent experience is that candidates often do not turn up for interview having already had a better offer. So, if there is no salary mentioned in a job advert, would this put off people applying. Virtually all job applicants are looking for a salary improvement, so a reasonable question would be can you afford me?

What ‘package’ is on offer?

• Applicants are looking for betterment, but this might extend to the package on offer not just the salary.

One does wonder why employers might want to keep quiet about what salary along with terms and conditions they might be prepared to pay. In general practice, I’m afraid that there is a tendency to offer a bare minimum. It has to be said that the National Living Wage is still quite prevalent for the lowest paid workers and ‘we pay the National Living Wage’ is included in an advert for clerical staff. hardly impresses. Why not offer the National Real Wage?

Guessing the Salary

• Research suggests that job adverts without a salary might work against female candidates or candidates of colour, so employers need to be aware of possible discrimination.

Only a small minority of Practices use NHS Salary Bands, making it even more difficult for candidates to guess the salary. However, you can be sure that candidates will ask what the salary of the outgoing manager might be. And what salary is on offer. What if the Practice really have no idea what salary to offer? When a candidate looks at the background information about a Practice, the list size, the number of doctors and staff and then reviews the number of premises and services offered it should be apparent how big a Practice is and possibly what it can afford. Sadly, I suspect that many Candidates would have no idea. So, is it fair not to give at least an idea of what the salary might be?

The Recruitment Nightmare

“One recruitment firm says that on average an advert might attract 250 CVs, but only 4 to 6 will be called to interview.”

Certainly, during the last two years, I have seen a number of recruitment exercises for Practice Managers first-hand and noted that being vague about or not including a salary in an advert can result in a large influx of applications that display content that makes them hardly worth reading. Including a starting guide salary at least avoids applicants who already earn much more. I did however come across applicants who were happy, not the right word, to take a lower salary. Out of around 100 applicants, I would say that only 10 were worth further enquiry and interview.

It’s not just the salary but the ‘package’

• There’s not just the salary, but the terms and conditions of service.

Applicants who already work in the NHS, would not only expect salary progression in line with what they might achieve in the mainstream NHS, but also expect annual leave and employers sick pay to be comparable. For a senior position it might not go down well to offer 28 days leave including bank holidays! Another area that might cause problems is the length of probation and the periods of notice. Really, you don’t want to end up with an unsatisfactory employee on probation but with three months-notice. It could be costly. Obviously, membership of the NHS Pension Scheme is always an attraction.

Give applicants a chance

My suggestion would be to make sure that there is adequate information given in the advert or information sheets issued to candidates to allow at least an educated guess. For instance, how about a ‘salary range’ such as the lowest you would pay and the highest you would pay. A range of £5,000 might be reasonable. The inquisitive applicants will ask anyway. They might ask to speak to the incumbent manager or a partner, who both need to speak with one voice. They will no doubt look at the Practice web site, the NHS web site and search for a recent CQC inspection report. But such internet searches will probably not reveal the salaries offered in the Practice. Good luck in your endeavours to better yourself.

Robert Campbell – February 2022


Robert Campbell

By Robert Campbell<br><img src="" alt="Robert Campbell" class="avatar" width='50' height='50'/>

Started work writing medical cards in 1966 at Staffordshire Executive Council. Have worked at Inner London Executive Council, Hertfordshire Executive Council, Lambeth Southwark and Lewisham FPC, Birmingham FPC, Dudley FPC and Wakefield FPC and Family Health Services Authority. I was seconded to the NHS Appeals Unit and have worked as a full time GP practice manager since 1992 until 2010. I was also an AMSPAR trainer at Park Lane College, Leeds. Now I work as a freelance author.