Help My Career: What can I do to improve my salary? Am I being paid fairly? In a strong jobs market, here’s how to push for a pay raise.

United States

How much are you worth?

On Friday, the economy added a surprisingly robust 261,000 new jobs in October, underpinning the strength of a labor market that the Federal Reserve worries will still stoke high inflation.

The unemployment rate rose to 3.7% from 3.5%, the government said Friday, as more people lost jobs and the size of the labor force shrank slightly. The cost of living rose 8.2% in September, while wages rose just 5.1%.

As of Tuesday, New York City requires most employers to disclose salary ranges on job postings. Employers with four or more employees must provide the minimum and maximum wage they are willing to pay for the role.

The new law is an important first step toward fair pay, creates an opportunity for a shift in hiring practices and culture, and is critical for closing the pay gap for women and people of color, analysts say. 

The new law creates an opportunity for a shift in hiring practices, and may help address the pay gap for women and people of color.

A handful of states, including Colorado and Connecticut, already require wage information on job postings. Many major companies, including JPMorgan Chase JPM, +2.41% and Citigroup C, +2.21%, have begun implementing the new law.

Women’s median weekly earnings are just 83% of what men earn, according to a 2022 analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C.  Asian men earn more than all other groups, including white men.

The pay gap between ethnic groups and genders is stark. Hispanic women’s full-time earnings were just 58% of white men; Black women earned 63% and white women earned almost 80% compared to white men, the institute said.

Some of these racial and gender wage gaps can be due to the fact that fewer Black and Hispanic workers have a college education. However, a separate report by the Pew Research Center says those gaps persist among college-educated workers.

Ask these employer, whether or not you live in New York:

What can I do to improve my salary?

The new rules allow workers to start a conversation with their manager, said Beverly Neufeld, president of PowHer New York, a statewide nonprofit network that focuses on promoting economic gender equality.

If you are at the low end of the advertised salary range, “that’s a place for discussion,” Neufeld said. “This can actually open up conversations with your employer of, ‘Why am I in this position? Why am I at the bottom of the range?’”

A twice-yearly salary check is one way to see if your performance and responsibilities are reflected in your annual salary.

— Scott Dobroski, career trends expert at Indeed

A twice-yearly salary check is one way to see if your performance and responsibilities are reflected in your annual salary, said Scott Dobroski, a career trends expert at Indeed, a global employment platform.

The difference between the potential minimum and maximum salary on some postings is more than $ 100,000. The top number shows how much the employer can afford to pay, and also reflects a candidate’s experience and skill, Dobroski said. 

How does my pay compare to others?

Employers should, at the request of their employees, give an explanation of how they set their criteria, Neufeld said. This should help workers to improve their salary and career prospects, she added.

Employees and job seekers need to understand what “fair pay” looks like, Dobroski said. “And the key is research, research, research,” he added. “Most employers want to be competitive,” he said.

Most major employers engage in “industry benchmarking” when setting their pay ranges, he said. It means that they establish salary ranges for certain jobs by, in part, comparing those jobs to similar roles at companies comparable in revenue and size.

‘Lower pay follows you through your career. And that’s where the pay gap starts — in the first job.’

— Beverly Neufeld, president of PowHer New York

Employees and job seekers should consult websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed, which will give the base pay based on experience, company and job title, Dobroski said. They can ask friends and colleagues how they fit into those ranges.

Young workers are increasingly adept at figuring out the market rate for their job based on their skills and experience, Neufeld added. “Lower pay follows you through your career, and that’s where the pay gap starts — in the first job.” 

The good news: Younger workers are most willing to know and share their pay information, a recent survey from Bankrate suggested. In fact, four in 10 workers ages 18 to 25 said they’ve done so with a coworker or another professional contact.

What does my benefits package look like?

“What we often hear from next-generation talent is, ‘If the salary is competitive, why aren’t you listing it?’” Byron Slosar, founder and CEO of HIVE Diversity, a virtual recruitment platform, told MarketWatch.

“Financial security is the No. 1 career motivator for the majority of the 21,000 undergraduate students on HIVE,” Slosar said. Aside from the base salary, workers and job seekers should also look at the entire benefits package, experts said. 

Candidates should consider asking the company early in the process about the potential for relocation expenses, or even signing bonuses.

New York’s pay-transparency law can also help younger out-of-state candidates, who can look at the base pay, and see early on in the job-search process if they can afford to move to New York City and support themselves, Slosar said. 

While job postings typically focus on the base pay, Dobroski said, it’s important to ask about other areas of compensation, including relocation expenses, or even signing bonuses. “People forget about,” he said.