PayScale finds a way to automate and scale compensation data across the digital divide

Catching up on the Bill Kutik Radio Show recently (don't call it a podcast – wink) I heard Bill introduce as a talent management suite firm.

I did a double-take cartoon head spin and listened more closely. I thought was a salary survey and compensation content provider. Hey, I do my best to keep up with the Kutik's and the Plunkett's, but it's a big HR marketplace (and although's been struggling with earnings, they did just buy InfoBasis Limited).

And that got me thinking about compensation and other players in the space and I wondered what was going on with PayScale and if they have a better comp content mousetrap. I read a recent Cheezhead post that said they did and then had the opportunity myself to interview one of the management team members this week, Vice President Mike Hayes.

Mike's been with PayScale for 2 ½ years. He came from the HR industry, selling HRIS tools to HR, and told me he was intrigued by the whole business model at PayScale. It was a fascinating conversation, particularly because of the job matching and semantic search technology growth in our space. The following are paraphrased excerpts from our hour-long interview (because Mike is much smarter than me):

The way our competitors collect their salary data (including is mired in manual processes and people that are costly. PayScale took a look at this and saw a number of scalable opportunities.

First, there's the growth of the network. We thought it was an interesting revolution online with social networking services LinkedIn and MySpace. So the idea was: why don't we build a portal on compensation where people would share their information and we would share back a comparison with the closest match. You share content anonymously and we share the closest match near you.

We are a dynamic company made uniquely of experts from the fields of library science, statistics, compensation and software development. The seasoned compensation professionals review, compare and contrast our data to other industry benchmarks, like BLS. Library science experts make sure everything is placed in the right place, statistics ensures the right number to you compensation questions and our technology team wraps up everything in an extremely usable web application. Our consumers and business clients then get answers to any of their comp related questions like "I'm a C++ programmer in Seattle with Oracle DBA experience. Compare me with others similar to myself." We can provide feedback in milliseconds. We do that by managing hundreds of thousands of affinities. For every question you answer, you get grouped with other people.

All the factors that are important in your position are related to compensation and the system learns over time. Any degree, skill set, experience—all that information grows. New hot skills are identified and become important and then our system can value those skills accordingly.

What ties this all together is that have incredible matching technology for job-matching. When someone comes to our site, we have to figure out what they do so we can ask relevant questions, which is the strength of our environment, and then we match you up with lots of interesting things – salary-related things and people, and jobs available in your area, in your industry, that some of our partners have on their job boards. We do a better job of matching than a lot of tools out there, because we have so many details on individuals. Our big differentiator is the peripheral information we gather (telecommuting, benefits, etc.).

In addition to our consumer efforts, we're also collecting volumes of salary/position profile data, we've got great products for employers as well. MarketRate is basically a search tool that gives immediate feedback on positions you need to price. The business user simply enters a number of parameters, like job, location and industry and co size and MarketRate gives you instant feedback on the compensation related to that specific request. We tell you everything about the data, how old the data is – 90-180 days, usually – which is unique in our industry (most surveys are 9 months old when you first get them), MarketRate tells you where the data has come from and what industries make up the data set and much more We see different changes in salary quicker than other solutions as we update our data daily. Take the most recent example of the mortgage industry; a year ago, in the mortgage business there was a lot of employment and now there's a lot of unemployment. Another system would still have the data collected last year on that industry.

Larger companies that want to do more system-wide benchmarking for their organizations can now apply the same innovation across the whole company so you can define your job descriptions within our system and upload your data. Then with our job matching, we make our best guess of what your job should be matched to within the PayScale database.

We provide instant feedback on up to 5,000 positions at a time. Then you take the initial link we provide and, as you should do with any benchmarking project, work with job description builder, the survey that you see online, with a few extra questions for businesses. It' lets the HR manager have a good conversation with a line manager, for instance, to figure out the best job description. Once you build the job description, press a button and PayScale collects all the info around your company, and you've built your survey as an outside consultant would. But it's all internally related to your company.

Glad to hear it, Mike. We're big proponents of social networking and cool search technologies. No wonder they're giving a run for their money.

Thank you again and we wish you happy marketing!

You can read more about PayScale here.

Post by Kevin Grossman

Labels: , , , ,