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A NYC Worker Saw Her Company Was Hiring for Her Job Title But Paying Up to $90K More—So She Applied for It

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A New York City tech worker is going viral for learning a role with her job title was being advertised online and offering up to $90,000 more per year, thanks to a new salary transparency law in the city.

Kimberly Nguyen, 25, is a user experience writer on a contract basis for Citigroup and says she learned about the discrepancy when the company posted a job opening — with the same title as her current role — on LinkedIn. Because the company is hiring in NYC, which requires salary ranges on job listings, she saw that the intended pay for the new hire would be $32,000 to $90,000 more than her current salary.

So, she applied for the job.

She wrote on Twitter Tuesday: “My company just listed on LinkedIn a job posting for what I’m currently doing (so we’re hiring another UX writer) and now thanks to salary transparency laws, I see that they intend to pay this person $32k-$90k more than they currently pay me, so I applied.”

Different pay ranges for the same job title

Nguyen tells CNBC Make It she earns $85,000 per year working as a contractor with Citi, and that she was told at the time of hiring the position could be converted to a full-time role. The LinkedIn posting from Citi lists the full-time UX opening, requiring five to eight years of experience, as offering a salary of $117,200 to 175,800 per year. By Wednesday, the posting said the company is no longer accepting applications.

A Citi spokesperson tells CNBC Make It the company pays Photon, a contractor service, a market-competitive rate for their services, however Photon negotiates the individual’s pay rate. Photon did not return CNBC Make It’s request for comment.

The Citi spokesperson adds the company has listed pay ranges on all U.S. job ads since mid-October. The company caught heat in November, when the NYC law went into effect, for listing some jobs with a salary range of $0 to $2 million.

Nguyen says she has discussed her pay at work and has been asking for a raise “for months.”

She also tried to get a competing offer to negotiate a raise, she wrote on Twitter, but was told Citi did not have the budget to increase her contracted pay. Following that discussion, Nguyen says the prospective company began undergoing layoffs and ended up rescinding their job offer.

After seeing the job listing Tuesday, Nguyen says she posted the link in a group chat with her UX writer coworkers, which prompted an emergency meeting at work with HR.

Nguyen tells CNBC Make It she was told “Citi maintains that they have no control over contractor salaries.”

“As a contractor, I’m in a pretty vulnerable position,” she adds. “The full-time employee conversion is being dangled in front of me like a reward that I’m not actually sure I’m guaranteed.”

‘Talk about your salary!”

Nguyen closed out her Twitter thread by saying that she’s officially on the job market for a new UX writing job either remote or in NYC and expects to earn upwards of $125,000 given her skillset and the market. She is also a poet and has written several books.

She says new salary transparency laws have “been life-changing. I don’t apply to positions with low advertised salaries.”

Nguyen says she never expected her tweet to resonate with so many people and hopes it leads to greater transparency and accountability for pay equity.

“I’m really glad a dialogue is being opened. I’m glad companies are feeling more pressure, but nobody wins if we just all get each other fired,” Nguyen wrote on Twitter. Instead, she encourages people to call their elected officials to get transparency laws passed in their state. Finally, she added, “Talk about your salary!”

Employers should avoid similar situations by being proactive about making market adjustments for workers who may be underpaid, and communicating their pay strategy to employees, says Ruth Thomas, a pay equity strategist at Payscale.

“It’s important to not only pay employees fairly, but to explain why their pay is fair,” she says. “Open communication around pay is one of the most critical aspects of employee engagement.”

As for people who may be in Nguyen’s position, Thomas adds, “the first thing you should do is to bring it up to your manager or HR and have a conversation about your compensation. It’s also to your advantage to come in with numbers showing that you know your worth and have evaluated the market you’re working in.”

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