There are an infinite number of total reward combinations a company may offer an employee. The trick is to find the package that means the most to you. Take a look at some of the benefits to see if you can see which is most valuable to whom.
Employer #1 offer free health insurance, but the employee has a $1000 deductible and office visit co-payments are $30. Employer #2 Charges $50/month for health insurance, but has a $200 deductible and office visit copayments are $10.
Advice: While the initial thought that if one company pays the cost of your healthplan it must provide the best medical coverage option, that is often not the case. Companies have many variables to play with in changing their costs for medical insurance. Some of these options are hard to spot for the job interviewee not giving the benefits package more than a cursory review.
For Example: The person that rarely goes to the doctor and never gets sick would benefit most from the free plan. However, someone that makes regular doctor visits, has been known to need their insurance for various ailments and can not afford to be caught up with a high deductible would be much better off with the plan that has more of the costs front-loaded.
Employer #1 offers a dollar for dollar match on your 401k contribution up to 3%. Employer #2 offers fifty cents on the dollar match up to 8%.
Advice: The dollar for dollar match sounds like a no-brainer, and actually is pretty good, if you plan on contributing no more than 6% to your 401K. Once you start contributing greater than 6%, employer #2 actually is matching a greater dollar value than employer #1.
For Example: The person that is paying off high-interest debts, or can not afford to contribute much to the 401k plan may prefer to go with the first company. Someone that is able to save more for retirement is better off going with the second company.
Employer #1 offers a 20% bonus target, pays 5% if the company comes in at 95% of target, then escalates up to the 20% at the target (100%). The employer tops the bonus at 25% if the company performs at 110% of target. Employer #2 offers a 15% bonus target, pays 7.5% if the company comes in at 90% of target, then escalates up to the 15% target (100%). This employer tops the bonus at 30% if the company performs at 105% of target.
Advice: The typical person would say that employer #1 obviously offers a better bonus payout by 5%. However, if you were able to sift through the example, you saw that if the company performs much below target or above target, the second company will have a higher payout. Also, the first company had tougher had tougher criteria to hit the bonus minimum and maximum. I would probably dig deeper to find the companies history of bonus payouts in the past. If it turns out that one of the companies never comes close to the target anyways, then the bonus might as well be 0%.
Location and Pay Rate
Employer #1 offers you $40,000. You will have a commute time each day of one hour and you will have to work 10 hours of non-paid overtime per week (50 hours worked total). Employer #2 offers you $37,000. You will have a commute time of 20 minutes and you will have to work no overtime per week (40 hours worked total).
Advice: When you factor in that job one requires ten extra hours of work per week, and you will have to add 3 hours and 20 minutes of extra commute time each week, it is easy to see that the offer with employer #1 is not as good as it first looks. While standard practice to is to divide the annual rate by the total hours worked to get the hourly rate, I would even take a more radical approach. Someone concerned about quality-of-life might choose to divide the annual pay rate by the total hours the job consumes, including hours worked and hours spent in commuting. This sounds radical, but even though employers will say this is incorrect, they give this method credence by allowing employees to work from home and touting this as a benefit.
There are a couple of times when I would still consider the job with employer #1. If promotional opportunities are more plentiful and likely to be achieved much quicker, I would consider employer #1 more seriously. Also, if transportation is a sunk cost (e.g. you have a train pass that you need for both jobs, its just that you are on the train for less time with the second employer), second jobs are hard to come by and you need the extra $3,000 (minus taxes) to cover your bills. Just be aware that as an hourly rate, you are allowing the employer to value each hour of work you do a little less than you would normally have to.