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New York pay transparency law drives change in job postings across U.S.

A New York law requiring employers to disclose job salary ranges went into effect this week and is driving even companies that are recruiting outside the state to include salary information in job descriptions as standard practice.

Even when it’s not required, indicating a job’s wage or salary range reduces pay discrepancies and benefits employers by attracting candidates that are more qualified for particular openings.

“Employers say that when they post good faith salary ranges, they get better candidates, because job applicants are better suited to the role,” Seher Khawaja, senior attorney at Legal Momentum, an advocacy organization for women which helped draft the legislation, told CBS MoneyWatch.

She added that transparency saves both parties time because candidates don’t go through numerous rounds of interviews only to find the salary on offer is unacceptable.

State transparency laws

New York City also has a pay transparency law, which took effect in November. It was the second law of its kind to go into effect, after Colorado first passed pioneering pay transparency legislation in January 2021.

A handful of other states, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island and Washington have either passed or already have similar legislation in effect.

As practices promoting pay transparency gain momentum, even candidates who live and work in places without such laws are benefitting from them, with more employers exhibiting job salaries by choice.

“A lot of candidates are just not looking at postings that don’t have the salary range, so we are seeing a culture shift that this will be an expectation. Employers are posting ranges even when there’s no legal mandate to gain a competitive edge,” Khawaja said.

Uptick in pay transparency across the U.S.

In New York and elsewhere, job postings with salary information in their descriptions ticked up in anticipation of the New York law going into effect this month.

In August, half of U.S. job postings on online job board Indeed included salary information, the highest share ever recorded by the employment website. That’s up from 18% of postings that included pay ranges on the site in February 2020.

This helps jobseekers get a leg up in negotiations. Armed with insight into how much an employer is willing to pay a top-tier candidate, job seekers can aim to land at the high end of the range.

Of course, there are ways for employers to skirt the laws by posting overly broad salary ranges, for example. Both New York laws require companies to advertise what they believe is a good faith estimate of a job’s salary.

The next frontier in mitigating pay discrepancy is better defining what constitutes a “good faith” range and including that definition in written legislation, according to Khawaja.

A starting point for negotiations

Posting salary ranges helps provide context for job seekers. Without that information, it’s impossible to know how much an employer might be willing to pay someone for a particular job role.

“For candidates, it’s a great starting point. But they still have to ask questions to know the particulars, and if the range is overly broad, it can leave them wondering what they’re worth,” Arianny Mercedes, founder of Revamped, a career and workplace consultancy, told CBS MoneyWatch.

And if there’s no salary information whatsoever, do your own research.

“Start with an internet search. Look up what an analyst role for Google pays. Be specific, and break the job down by department and the particulars of the role,” she said. Job hunters can refer to sites like Salary.com to get a sense of how much a particular role pays.

They can also compare job postings that lack pay information to similar openings in states with pay transparency laws in effect.

Talking to workers who already occupy a role like the one a candidate’s interviewing for is also a good way to glean salary information.

“Speaking with others in similar occupations is also helpful. Once armed with that information, the employee is in a much better position to negotiate a similar base salary,” said Janice Killion, an employment attorney for JustAnswer.com told CBS MoneyWatch.

Tell, don’t ask

When it comes to having salary conversations with hiring managers in states without laws on the books, state your desired salary range, rather than asking the company to provide one.

“When you ask them, you put yourself in a situation where you could bee low-balled,” Mercedes said. “Instead, do your research, tell them what your target range is, and ask if it’s something the role can meet. That’s a great place from which to start negotiating a base salary and other benefits.”

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