In a different thread Paul McKenna wrote:
Don't disclose your salary on a public forum
Now this is generally true, because you never know who can use this information against you. But it reminds me of another point. Companies greatly benefit from salaries being secret.
I've hired people at two companies and when I've gone in there have been large ranges in salaries, sometimes not corresponding as well as it should to skill set.
For example, at one company we were paying kids out of college around $X (all numbers in thousands). We hired a guy for $(X-25). This was in early 2000. We got away with it because he didn't know that he could do better and his recruiter was an idiot. Now we did quickly bump up his salary by $15 because we felt he was way underpaid. Still, if he knew that others were getting $10 more than he, maybe he would have been unhappy (either rightly or wrongly).
Salary surveys are supposed to help employees but letting them know the going rates. However, I have found surveys are fairly useless because:
1) They have small samples, relatively speaking
2) They often cover a wide geography
3) There are no standards, e.g. my 3 years of EJB
experience may be more less impressive than your 3 years of EJB experience
4) There is such a wide range of ability in general (on the order of 10:1) that you get a large spread in the sample space.
Now within a company, you get much more focus. You have a good idea of where you fall with respect to your peers, ability-wise. You've also normalized for geography, industry, etc.
Of course, companies don't want to give out this info. You also might not want to give out this info. It's unfortunate because it keeps you down, but understandable, because the information is personal.
I do talk about salary with some close friends of mine, mostly because I want to keep on top of what the reality is out there. I'm also at an advantage in that I hire people, so I'm in touch with market prices.
Just something to think about.