Matching Jobs to Salary Surveys

Job matching to the mini job descriptions included in published surveys (also called thumbnails) is one of the most important aspects of accurately comparing jobs to the market. It’s important to remember that you will almost never find jobs with exact matches in the job market.

For example, a custodial position in one company may include the responsibility for shredding confidential documents, yet in the building next door, a custodial position may include the responsibility for the specific treatment of specialty floors. We see similar variances in the overall job duties in almost every job. However, the goal of the market benchmarking process is to identify where similar skills are used and compare those pay rates. Obviously, the two jobs mentioned above have very similar overall duties, and individuals in one job could probably be hired to perform the other job.

For this reason, compensation professionals look for a match of at least 70% of the overall job scope, function, education, and skills to ensure that the job is a “match” to the survey job.

How do you know if you have a 70% match? This is an area where significant experience in matching jobs or attending job matching meetings sponsored by survey companies will provide significant help.

If you are new to job matching, here are some tips. First, look at the overall scope of the job. Do both positions operate at the same level inside the organization with a similar impact on the business? Second, do both positions perform the same essential functions? Third, do both jobs require a similar level of education and skills? You many need to convert education to experience or convert experience to education. Usually, we use two years of education to equal one year of experience. For IT jobs, a one for one ratio is more commonly applied. Ensure that you apply this conversion consistently when matching jobs.

Functional managers can help ensure appropriate job matches, especially with technical positions. However, if you go this route, be sure that you remove the job titles and pay information during the matching process. It’s easy for managers to get distracted by job titles or pay levels rather than reviewing the job itself.

Job matching is one of the most important parts of the benchmarking process. Spend the time and energy needed for your organization to ensure that this important step is done correctly.

Catherine Dovey is Chief Compensation Officer of Compensation Works LLC, a consulting firm specializing in strategic rewards. Compensation Works has helped many organizations create unique solutions that recognize and reward business results. Find out more at

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