Say you are getting hired and received an offer of 'X' for title 'A'. You want some thinking time and are doing some research online; for example glassdoors.

Title A is not known on the internet and there are no similar job titles as you are going to do something completely new for a company. How can I best calculate if X is enough to do A?

Assume the job is completely new and has never been worked on. There won't be any synonyms on the internet to compare to.


5 Answers 5


How to know if X is enough to do A and you are not being underpaid?

Assume the job is completely new and has never been worked on. There won't be any synonyms on the internet to compare to.

As they say "there's nothing new under the sun".

While the specifics of a new title are different, many jobs are similar at their core.

I recommend worrying if a job meets your needs, and not worrying about the next guy. But if you must compare, compare it to a job that you view as comparable, or compare it to any other job for which you feel you are qualified. That's the only thing that is relevant anyway.

If your title is to be "Director of Zerble", but the only other jobs you could land are Dishwasher, or Parking Lot Attendant - compare the offer to those.

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    He probably got a job offer for Mars Exploration Rover Driver. I'm pretty sure no one has ever worked that job.
    – ILikeTacos
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 19:57
  • @AlanChavez On the other hand, I'm sure there's jobs on Earth that compare, at least vaguely - pinpoint careful driving of some sort...
    – Izkata
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 20:00
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    @Izkata: If it's by remote control, I'm pretty sure there's folks at NASA who've done that before. If it's on-site with those Mars One folks, I think it had better include a pretty generous bonus for the lack of basic amenities like, say, a return flight back to Earth. Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 20:15
  • @IlmaraKaronen - it doesn't matter what they pay you, considering once you're on the ship you won't be able to spend any of it.
    – Adam V
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 15:49
  • @AdamV some people like to hand something down to their heirs, even if they can't use it themselves. Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 20:34

It's not about what the job is worth. It's about what you are worth.

When the job is really some task which was never there before, find out what tasks and responsibilities exactly the job entails and what special skills are needed, and then consider how much money you want to get paid to do that job per hour.

You didn't say what exactly your job will be. You just said that it is a completely new job nobody ever had before. So let's say... Transporter Chief on the Enterprise.

Tasks: What exactly do you need to do as transporter chief? How stressful is the job, physically and mentally? How flexible are your work-times? Are you exposed to health hazards like dangerous tachyon radiation or angry klingons?

Special Skills: How easy is the transporter console to operate? Can anyone learn how to do it in a few hours training? Or do you need a degree in warp-field dynamics to do the job? How easy are people with these skills to find on the market?

Responsibilities: Is the teleporter system safe? What happens when you make an operator error? Will the person you teleport become a weird mutant? Will away teams die when you don't react quickly enough?

When you are still unsure how much you want to have to do the job, you could look at other jobs which require a comparable education, are similarily physically and/or mentally exhausting, are equally dangerous and have about the same level of responsibility and look at what is generally paid for these jobs.

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    Add into your calculations how much your work impacts the company. That's why "webmaster" pays very little in small companies, but can be a very well paying position in a larger company. Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 13:37
  • Great answer Phil. I really like this way of looking at it. Could I suggest you edit the first sentence to add "to the company you are applying to" after "It's about what you are worth"? After all, just because I could be an investment banker making 7 figures doesn't mean that the NGO I want to work for should pay me 7 figures (even if I am worth that much to the investment banking firm).
    – jmac
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 5:09
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    +1 for Star Trek, but more importantly for "...comparable education, are similarily physically and/or mentally exhausting,..."
    – TecBrat
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 11:56

You are approaching this the wrong way. That is a question the COMPANY should be asking, your question is much simpler, and doesn't depend on anybody else: how much do you need to be paid for doing this job?

Anything less than that is by definition, unacceptable, anything over should be acceptable. Now, what you need should be influenced, but not determined, by how much you can make elsewhere.

In short, you don't need to look up an equivalent title or even equivalent job, you need to look at the requirements of the job and how much you think you can make elsewhere. What does the job require that you would be reluctant to give? Hours, availability, stress, travel, location? What does the job offer that you want? Hours, travel, location, responsibility, power, career growth?

Do you want the job and what it offers more than another job (say your current) and what it offers?

Final note: the company needs to determine what is an acceptable market price, but they should be doing so based upon availability of people with the required ability who desire to do the job, not job title. If they don't they are unlikely to hire a good fit, but that is their problem not yours.


In addition to all the other good comments, this is a negotiation, not a purely objective determination. Don't let them turn a negotiation into a paperchase on you.

(One major caveat is if you are both investing too much in some exotic job title, rather than also doing a position statement listing detailed responsibilities, which manager and dept you report to, what your responsibilities are, how, when and by whom this will be measured - if they can't or won't do any of that basic stuff, they're either cuddly eccentric geniuses, or hopeless - probably the latter. This "completely new" claim and the sentence "Assume the job is completely new and has never been worked on" make me incredibly nervous. If they're making up a job title to snow you, look cool on a business card, don't know their own org chart, create ambiguity about responsibilities, reporting structure, pay scales, career development then run for the exit.)

Title A is not known on the internet and there are no similar job titles as you are going to do something completely new for a company. How to know if X is enough to do A and you are not being underpaid?

How do ever compare anything to anything slightly dissimilar? Go to the time-honored basics:

  • What is their career path, how could you be promoted, what are those job titles and pay scales (incl. stock)? What is your direct manager's job title? your peers/prospective peers? (or what were all their titles at previous jobs? then research those salaries)
  • What is their business model, what funding stage are they, what and when are likely exits, liquidity events, how much stock as % of equity, how do they do compensation? If they react to these questions like they've never heard them before or dismiss them as irrelevant, run for the exit.
  • What is the previous track record of the management team and investors? How do you quantify the career risk (/upside) of working for them?

Those are the caveats and suggested comparison methods, now back to the salary negotiation - take off your objective hat and put on your negotiation one:

  • How many other candidates do they have? Are you the only choice, the first choice or what?
  • How many other offers do you have? Is this job your preferred choice?
  • How long has this position been open, how many unsuccessful applicants and candidates did they go through, how much productivity did they lose? (all of those imply a business cost. If they took 3 months and sank $40K into interviewing for it, then it must be worth at least >=$160K. Of course you don't start negotiating at 160K)
  • How urgent are they to hire? How urgent are you to decide? Who is more urgent? Are you negotiating salary directly with the hiring manager, a recruiter, or HR? Always try to negotiate salary with the hiring manager.
  • If they did H1B visa, they would have to quit insisting it's unique in the recorded history of humanity, and come up with a job title with equivalent federal labor classification and a competitive salary range. (Research if they've done this before, e.g. for other positions). You could try to figure out what that would be - there's a lot of public data you can browse - browse it.
  • As ever with compensation negotiation, don't just obsess about raw salary, look at intangibles: commute time, company culture, medical, retirement, vacation, remote-working, tuition, attitude to publishing parts of your work as open-source (written authorization is good) etc etc.

The job is not defined by the role name, but by the goals of that role. Here are some questions to ask yourself to narrow down the problem:

  1. What do you do exactly in that job? What are your tasks and responsibilities?
  2. With what kind of people you have to deal/collaborate with? Peers? Other areas? Clients? And to what degree? (Just collaboration? A charge of authority and high interaction with the client?)

Once you know that, then you can ask people in your business branch of people that do that. I heard stories of people that do exactly the same thing, but the jobs have like 6 role names or something.

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    How could you get in touch touch with such persons? Would you bluntly ask in what salary ranges they are?
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 15:35
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    Hey Xanathos, welcome to the Workplace. Could you expand and share the experiences of one of the people you know who have had luck with this strategy? On our site, we prefer answers to be backed up with either a reference or experiences that demonstrate your answer is correct. Hope this helps.
    – jmort253
    Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 22:47

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