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How Much Does Your Boss Make? Just Look Online

What would happen if someone left the unedited employee survey for the whole company, salary information included, on the printer and it got posted to the Web?

A new Web site is trying to do just that.

Hundred Dollar
Bill Haber
Hundred Dollar

"We have more information on what TV I should buy, what model iPhone I should get than what is my going rate," said Robert Hohman. And recognizing that, Hohman and Richard Barton, the founder of Expedia and Zillow.com, created Glassdoor.com.

Glassdoor allows anyone to anonymously share reviews and salary details about specific jobs for specific employers. The catch? It's a give-to-get model — you must first post your own employment and salary information, albeit anonymously, before gaining access to the salary information and company reviews of others. The two-month-old site currently has more than 60,000 salary reports and company reviews for more than 11,000 employers in more than 80 countries.

Salary-sharing sites are not exactly new, but Glassdoor, unlike most of its competitors, provides company names and job-specific information.

"Other sites tend to aggregate the information at such a high level that they aren't extremely useful to consumers," said Hohman, CEO of the operation. "You can find out what a software engineer in the Bay Area makes from those sites," but he added, "What you want to know is, what is Google paying software engineers with three years of experience."

According to Glassdoor.com, a software engineer at Google's Mountainview, Calif., office with one to three years of experience has an average salary of $88,895 a year. If you include cash and stock bonuses, this number jumps to $114,000.

Hohman says knowing what a specific company and its competitors are paying someone with a specific job title in a specific city with a specific amount of experience is the only way to make the right career decision and be armed for the salary negotiation.

So is salary transparency the wave of the future? Daniel Mitchell, a professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management, is skeptical.

"It would help people to negotiate their own salaries if they knew what the guy next door got, but that’s why employers often say they don’t want you to disclose that information," says Mitchell. "Most bigger employers have some kind of rules about this, so this could only occur if it’s anonymous, and of course if it’s anonymous you don’t necessarily know that it’s accurate."

To combat the potential problem of false information, Hohman says Glassdoor employs researchers who look at every company review and salary posting before it goes live on the site. Those who post suspicious information are emailed and asked to confirm the information.

So go ahead, visit Glassdoor.com and see if part of your company’s hypothetical spreadsheet is posted online.

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