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What Is a Benchmark Job?

Since the role of a locomotive engineer is nearly identical in every railroad, it's a good example of a benchmark job.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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A benchmark job is a job that tends to remain consistent across diverse organizations, allowing employers in various companies and even different industries to use it as a basis for evaluation and comparison. Data about such positions is readily available so that employers have information that they can use in the development of job descriptions and salaries. People may also refer to them as key jobs.

Several characteristics define a benchmark job. The first is that it is a job with a clear definition that is also generally consistent between departments and organizations. Even if the job title varies slightly, it has enough things in common with other types of positions that it is a fair basis for comparison. In addition, the job is a common position, which makes data on it readily available because many people across organizations and industries occupy similar positions.

Companies that collect job statistics usually have ample information about benchmark jobs available. This includes survey data that contains self-reporting on job responsibilities, salaries, benefits, and other information. This material can be used by an organization that wants to confirm that it is holding its employees to an industry standard of responsibility, and which wants to compare its wages with similar positions to ensure that they are fair. Employees can also use such data in employment negotiations if they feel that they are occupying benchmark positions and are not receiving appropriate compensation.

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Survey data can be valuable for companies that are performing a job analysis. Such analyses are used to determine whether or not employee performance is optimal, how workplaces might be reorganized to increase efficiency and productivity, and how to improve employee attitudes in the workplace to make it a more pleasant place to work. A comparison with jobs at other companies may show an business that its employees are not earning a fair wage when compared with other people in the industry or that employees have unevenly divided responsibilities.

Some data on benchmark jobs may be available through public surveys. Websites that allow people to compare salaries and job responsibilities usually provide some information to the public, although paying for a subscription will often allow the user to access more detailed information. Print publications also provide similar levels of data access.

When looking at this type of job for the basis of comparison, it is important for individuals to be aware of the influence that geography has on wages. Wages for the same position can vary depending on where someone works.

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Discuss this Article

Emilski
Post 4

Does anyone have any strategies for finding salary negotiation information if you work in a field where there are not a lot of jobs similar to yours or you have more or fewer responsibilities as others with that job?

I think this would probably be a big problem for companies and employees that are entering a new and unexplored segment of the market.

cardsfan27
Post 3

I could see being able to use benchmark jobs as a powerful growth and development tool for a company.

Imagine you were the boss at one of the three large firms in an area. If you got wind that the other companies were paying their employees less for similar jobs, you could try to lure the competitors' top employees away with higher salaries.

At the same time, you may find that your employees are far overpaid given their responsibilities, and you may start your salary negotiations lower.

jcraig
Post 2

You have to be careful when trying to use a benchmark job, though. I have looked at my job on the salary websites, and it gives a huge range.

Like the article says, I think a lot of that depends on geography, but that can go both ways. Depending on where you live, you might be able to use a salary from a bigger area, or the employer may use a salary from a smaller area as a reference. Either way, you have to take the local cost of living into account.

titans62
Post 1

Even though I didn't know the specific term for it at the time, I have used a benchmark job in negotiations before.

When I was younger and didn't know any better, I took a job without trying to negotiate the salary. After a while there, I realized that even new employees with the same job were making more than me. We didn't have the internet at the time, but I did find some ads for jobs similar to mine that listed the starting salary.

I used that information and what I knew from coworkers to leverage a much bigger raise for myself later that year. Now that I know better, I always do a lot of preparation when it comes to getting a new job.

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