Benefits, Compensation

The Emerging Job Market: The Struggle With Pay Rates For Social Media Jobs

Social media policy

Have you tried to market price a social media job lately? Then this post is for you, with my sympathies.

Emerging jobs and job families often bring their own particular challenges when it comes to market pricing and our attempts to get a bead on a valid, consistent “going rate.”

The problem is that the market isn’t very consistent in the early stages of valuing a new job function, a time when the definition of the job and its key responsibilities, as well as the credentials deemed necessary to perform it competently, tend to vary significantly from organization to organization.

I can remember this happening (for instance) in the early days of web jobs, when salary levels might vary $40,000 or more for what seemed to be a similar role, even in the same metro area, and when different surveys produced very different mean and median pay rates. Contrast this with what you’d find in trying to market price a job like Staff Accountant, where pay practice is more stable and tends to fall within a pretty narrow band of possibilities.

3 tips for pay practices in emerging jobs

This is the phenomenon we encounter today, in trying to value social media and other new jobs. Although it is my sense that pay surveys (notorious for lagging reality — just see how many of them still use the title “Secretary”) have been tightening their learning and response times on this front. We also see a related phenomenon at work in surveys that cover developing markets like those in many Asian countries.

My advice to clients, when they are dealing with volatility in market pay practices for emerging jobs and markets is to:

  1. Recognize what is happening, and why.
  2. Respond to market value volatility for emerging jobs by using multiple sources, where possible, in an attempt to triangulate the most likely market value point.
  3. Stay flexible and fleet of foot on pay practices for emerging jobs, knowing that market levels are likely to zig and zag a bit on the road to a more stable pattern.

I’d be interested in hearing from readers who have dealt with this issue – what experience and advice would you offer for valuing emerging jobs?

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
  • Greg Matthews

    I think that this is good advice … and I’ll follow it up with some advice that every recruiter SHOULD know, but only the really good ones can put effectively into practice: When you’ve found exceptionally good talent that is *also* a great cultural/organizational fit, don’t let market data (especially for positions in emerging/growth areas) be the reason you fail to make the hire. 

    The flipside, of course, is that subpar (or lazy) recruiters will offer whever it takes to land any candidate … which in the long run is worse.  And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why having great recruiters is so important to any company!  Thanks again for the post … will be curious to see how this discussion evolves over time.