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Why Salary.com and Glassdoor Don't Equal Pay Transparency

John Hollon at Workforce has a good, quick primer on Glassdoor, the latest entry into the Salary.com space.  You know the space - the one designed to arm employees with everything they need to determine if they are underpaid, fairly compensated, or overpaid (have the last two ever happened?  Any HR pros out there who have experienced the fulfillment of an employee approaching them and saying, "My wife looked up my job on salary.com last night, and I just want to say, thanks for fairly compensating me for what I do"?  That was reassuring...)

No reason to recreate the wheel here, so I'll go with JH's description, with my take after the jump:

"The Internet has done a lot to give workers more information about salary levels, including suchMo_money_3 well-known sites as Salary.com and PayScale.com. Another one debuted this week: Glassdoor.com.

“It’s like a Zillow for jobs,” says a blog post on Good Morning Silicon Valley. “People who derive pleasure from finding out how much their neighbor paid for his house might be just as interested to know, for free, how much that neighbor makes, although the site doesn’t disclose names. Still, if you know he’s a software engineer for Google—and isn’t ‘So, what do you do?’ one of the first things you ask someone— you can get a pretty good idea by going to the site.”

So what makes Glassdoor different from other salary sites? “What’s different is that Glassdoor gathers content by asking users to submit their information in order to access other information,” says Good Morning Silicon Valley, “something the company’s press release calls the ‘give to get’ model. The site, which for now is starting with companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, may come in handy for job seekers and career hoppers. Besides finding out salary ranges, you can also look for reviews and ratings. It might temper your lust to work for Google, for example, because, as TechCrunch notes, ‘even at Google, it’s not all happy faces.’

Bounce out and take a look at John's entire post, because it's a nice mix of his dual role as manager and employee.  He wants ALL the info as an employee, but would rather not have the headaches that come with transparency as a manager.  I suspect he's part of a large club in that regard.

Here's the deal with sites like Salary.com when it comes to salary data - employees never assume they should be paid near the minimum or really, even the midpoint.  Any time you give an individual comp data, even with a clear and meaningful explanation of ranges in comp theory, the employee always looks at the highest number.  Human nature.  The only reason I am immune to it is because I have all the data and have lived life as a HR pro for the last decade.  Shins kicked, heart hardened...

So we have the salary surveys and pay people competitively, but for the most part, companies don't publish ranges (public sector excluded).  At the end of the day, your worth in the market place is equal to the salary you accept to do the job.  Not the max on the range, or depending on your experience, the midpoint, but the salary you accept as dictated by the market.

Once that's done, it's up to the comp and HR pros to make sure you're paid competitively and retained.  With that in mind, salary.com and glassdoor are good because they keep HR pros accountable to that goal.  Usually using different and more in-depth tools, but accountable nonetheless...

But, it doesn't mean anyone is really ready for transparency, which is a two-way street.  What the market says...and also what you are worth...

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