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Published: Jan 03, 2022 7 min read
Cheque and envelope is transparent where held up to screen - data helping provide pay transparency.
Pete Ryan for Money

This article is part of Money's January 2022 digital cover, which features 22 ways to make 2022 the best money year of your life. Browse all 22 articles here.

If pay isn’t included on the job listing, conventional wisdom says you should turn to salary estimation tools on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor to get an idea of what a company might pay. But even if you manage to dig up some details, all you have is a ballpark estimate when it comes time to negotiate.

“Many online salary estimates come with significant limitations,” says Kevin Harrington, the CEO of the careers website Joblist. “They could be inflated due to self-reporting [or] outdated and no longer relevant in the current market.”

In this all-too-common scenario, the lack of salary information puts applicants at a disadvantage.

“Especially women,” says C. Nicole Mason, president of the non-profit Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “There’s an enormous amount of power on the other end because there’s a lack of [salary] information.”

The good news is that a new wave of salary transparency laws is beginning to level the playing field. While salary-transparency legislation is in effect in only a handful of states (see below) it's inciting a ripple effect that benefits job seekers across the U.S.

These laws, which generally require companies to disclose salary details to job applicants, can help you unearth real salary examples to use in pay negotiations — so you don't have to rely on self-reported or estimated wages from salary sites.