With the jobless rate> near 10 percent, employers enjoy all the leverage; some require applicants to specify salary demands before they ve even had an interview. We looked at three Web sites that provide compensation data to see if they offer useful intelligence.
The site s free data, based on information it buys from corporations, provides only a bell curve of the average salaries for each of the 3,700 job categories (for example, Accountant II or Reporter III, based on the job description). It left us guessing which percentile we fit into and whether the category was too broad to be helpful. A company spokesperson says the most common mistake users make is choosing the wrong category. A more personalized report factors in details like education and experience but costs $29.95 for entry-level candidates and up to $79.95 for executives. Sadly, it gave our estimated market value as 20 percent less than our current pay.
Just to get started, we had to spend five minutes filling out a profile, since all data here comes from users, not companies. In theory that means the data could be unreliable. The company says users have no incentive to lie, and indeed, we didn t notice a big difference between these numbers and Salary .com s. We liked the feature that allowed us to peruse salaries and bonuses of other individuals who had filled out profiles. Bios can be as much as a year old, however, which could matter in a fast-moving economy. For $19.95, the premium membership allows users to research up to 10 job descriptions, as opposed to four in the free version.
This startup, launched in February, claims to differ from the two industry leaders above by showing actual salaries of current employees. (The site s cofounder Julie Greenberg says she doesn t purchase the data but won t say where she gets it.) One big plus: All the information is free, as the site aims to make money from job listings. But currently, it features just 4 million job profiles, compared with 16.5 million for Payscale.com, and offerings seemed sparse in all the categories we checked. Greenberg says jobs are being added rapidly.