Take this job, and compare the pay online

Web site lets you see how your paycheck fares compared with others with similar skills and experience.

Ever wonder how your pay compares with that of people doing the same job across the street, or even across the country?

That information, previously available only through word-of-mouth or expensive surveys of human resources managers supplied to your employer, is now readily available at your fingertips.

Launched five years ago, PayScale is growing fast as more and more curious workers go to the site and provide details on their job, anonymously of course, in exchange for free information on pay and other compensation for people doing comparable work. The database has been doubling every year since 2004 and now contains more than 7 million profiles and gets more than 1.5 million unique visitors a month, according to the Seattle-based company.

PayScale supplies data to job sites including CareerBuilder, Jobster, Simply Hired and human resources firms, as well as more than 3,000 business customers who subscribe. It also includes data on international salaries and represents about 2 percent of the U.S. work force.

"Any recruiter wants you to feel like you are being undervalued where you are, and your own HR department and supervisors want you to be happy, but they're looking to control costs too."
--Louis Griffel, physician

On Wednesday, the company is set to announce a new Syndication Center that will allow Web publishers to embed salary data on their sites, such as tools that indicate market rates by geography for listed jobs, a salary calculator and a job listing calculator. A nursing Web site, for example, could include salary information about different types of jobs in various cities.

"Our original vision was to provide transparency to employees and employers alike," said PayScale founder Joe Giordano. "For the first time, people can get salary data that matches real people just like them."

PayScale helped A.J. Cestero, who works remotely from his home in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas, get information he needed to realize that he was underpaid at his former company and to become motivated to look for a higher-paying job. He still telecommutes, but for a company based in New York City instead of Austin, Texas.

"I got a salary increase, about 13 percent, but in terms of responsibilities I took a decrease," Cestero said, now a technical account manager for a maker of enterprise feedback management software. "I was working 14-hour days and was completely responsible for the data that was being brought in and processed...I wouldn't have had the impetus to switch and wouldn't have realized by what percentage I was being undervalued" if not for PayScale.

The same type of information convinced Louis Griffel, a physician working at a big pharmaceutical company in New Jersey, that he should stay put in his job.

"A colleague recently changed jobs and said he got a good raise, and I wanted to see where I stood," Griffel said. "After looking into it more with PayScale, it looked like I was actually doing a little bit better than the mean for someone with my level of job experience and title. Overall it made me comfortable that I was being treated fairly."

Griffel had also consulted Salary.com, another site that provides salary information but which is based on corporate human resource surveys. But he said PayScale was easier to use and appeared to be more accurate because it solicits more information from workers who create job profiles. There is no real incentive for people to lie or exaggerate, he added.

"It's very hard to find unbiased sources of this type of information," Griffel said. "Any recruiter wants you to feel like you are being undervalued where you are, and your own HR department and supervisors want you to be happy, but they're looking to control costs too."

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