What is That Social Media Job Worth, Anyway?

Illustration by Dreamstime.

In yesterday’s post (The Emerging Job Market: The Struggle With Pay For Social Media Jobs), I wrote about the challenges of trying to get valid competitive pay information for emerging jobs and job families. I used social media jobs as an example of one emerging job family that is presenting this kind of challenge to today’s compensation professionals.

Although no commenters (beyond the very cryptic offering of Lua Belle) have yet spoken up with specific advice and suggestions, I did receive emails from several colleagues who — without revealing their identities — I would describe as very credentialed. This group (unbeknownst to one another) was in general agreement about the need to move beyond traditional salary survey data and consider more general market intelligence to guide the pay-setting process.

Pay-setting process: a few strategies

A few of the strategies recommended by the group include:

  • Use surveys to price the core underlying functionality (if there is one) and then apply judgment to guesstimate the need for a premium on top of that price.
  • Check in with your internal recruiting staff handling these roles for anecdotal information on the market or to access records on candidate current pay levels or offers accepted and rejected.
  • Work your external network of compensation and HR colleagues, particularly external recruiters who are sourcing and placing social media types, to gather information on pay practices. (Vested interest and anti-trust alert.)
  • Seek out and take advantage of industry publications about pay levels. (Vested interest and data quality alert.)
  • Look through recruitment advertisements and (free) Internet pay data. (Data quality alert.)

In addition to highlighting some cautionary alerts, I’d like to point out that I listed the above strategies in an order reflecting my own comfort level and inclination toward them.

The problem in finding the right pay level

The first strategy shown closely parallels the “triangulation” approach I described in yesterday’s post — focusing on data for a core functional element of the job (even new skill areas will typically have their genesis in a traditional function, as many social media roles do in marketing and PR) and then applying judgment to determine whether and to what extent a premium is appropriate. I then advise keeping the position on a “watch list,” as traditional survey sources catch up with increasingly valid and useful info.

Beyond this, and the intelligence offered by highly trusted recruiting colleagues, I think you have to be prepared to take information gleaned with a hefty grain of salt. Is it valuable to gather and consider this kind of intelligence about the state of the market for the talent in question? Absolutely. For me, though, I’d have to say that Strategies 2 through 5 are probably best used as a way to guide my judgment in applying Strategy 1.

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But I may just be stuck in an outdated paradigm.

What’s your take?

Update: And the beat goes on. Here’s an interesting and related post, courtesy of Bruce Kneuer (@BKneuer)

This was originally published on Ann Bares’ Compensation Force blog.

Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. She has over 20 years of experience consulting in compensation and performance management and has worked with a variety of organizations in auditing, designing and implementing executive compensation plans, base salary structures, variable and incentive compensation programs, sales compensation programs, and performance management systems.

Her clients have included public and privately held businesses, both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, early stage entrepreneurial organizations and larger established companies. Ann also teaches at the University of Minnesota and Concordia University.

Contact her at abares@alturaconsultinggroup.com.

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