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Stop Leading With Your Hourly Rate In Your Recruitment Ads

Job applicants don’t care as much about what you’re paying as you think. 

I’m addicted to hiring billboards. I can’t help it. They’re like Adam Sandler movies. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I can’t help but watch them. When I’m out and about, my head is on a swivel looking for billboards advertising jobs.

The shame of it is so many good companies are throwing good money down the drain. Here’s an unscientific case study to illustrate my point:

  • A manufacturing company started running billboards a couple of years ago advertising entry-level positions for $15 an hour.
  • They’ve upped the ante since COVID. Their billboards say $17-20 an hour now.
  • By comparison, a theme park in the same city is paying high school kids $17 an hour.
  • Walmart is starting new employees at $18 an hour.
  • Another billboard in the area is advertising $20 an hour plus paid training.
  • Another one says $25.60.
  • Do you see where I’m going here?
  • Yet another billboard shows $33 an hour.
  • The crème de la crème is advertising jobs starting at $53 an hour!

The rules of the game have changed. What worked in the past isn’t necessarily going to work today. It’s time for a fresh approach to hiring.

You’re Killin’ Me, Smalls!


Leading with your hourly rate is a race to the bottom. There’s always someone paying more. Companies think hourly rates are important to employees, which they certainly are, but in reality, they’re way down on the list. Every time I see one of these billboards, I do my very best Ham Porter impression from The Sandlot. Sometimes in my head, other times out loud. I just can’t help it.

What Matters Most To Employees

A Glassdoor survey found that plenty of other factors are even more important than compensation—including management paying attention to employee morale and well-being, staff recognition for jobs well done, and more transparency into how the organization is run. Additionally, 65% of millennials valued company culture more than a high income. And it’s not just young workers. Fifty-two percent of Americans over the age of 45 feel the same way.

Back to the company running those $17-$20 an hour hiring billboards. They’re a great company with phenomenal owners who care about their employees and give back to the community. They’re an employee-owned company. They have amazing benefits, like health insurance with dental and tuition reimbursement, and an incredible profit-sharing program. Unfortunately, they’re burying the lead by making their hourly rate the focus of their ads.

A Better Way

The best employer brands make a connection with potential employees. Rather than advertising a pay rate that may or may not be good, create a compelling recruitment theme. For any type of advertising to work, it needs to stand out from the crowd. Develop a catchy headline with a memorable website address for candidates to find out more. If you’re designing a billboard, keep the copy to 6-7 words at the most. Finally, show an inviting photo to give applicants a glimpse into what the company is about.

By developing a cohesive employer branding strategy, companies are setting themselves apart from the hundreds of other businesses competing for the same employees. If you do the same, before you know it, you’ll have the right candidates knocking down your door.

Jason is a Partner and the CEO at Revel, a B2B marketing agency. He is a diehard baseball fan who loves his Detroit Tigers. Family vacations often revolve around seeing games in different MLB ballparks around the country – they’ve been to 21 so far and counting. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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