i.e. is there a way to "normalize" value and future-value of compensation components such as: annual bonus, commission, pension contribution, health benefits, vacation days, company car, etc. so that when evaluating offers, I am comparing apples-to-apples?


Yep, add it up!

They don't give you, say, 30 days to accept an offer because you need 30 days to go to the post office - they are giving you the time to evaluate the offer.

A simple request for information from HR will net you exactly (or at least rough terms for variable benefits) what you will pay for benefits, receive as over-salary compensation, and cost and policies related to vacation days, etc.

Add it up, and compare that with the detailed accounting you did for the other companies, and you should be able to tell which number is larger than the other.

If you're also familiar with extremely basic financial principles, you can make a tiny spreadsheet that can show you the value of an offer over time as well. (Pay raise bands, etc)

As a personal warning though, make sure you don't get TOO detailed into the accounting. If it matters that much to you, I doubt you are choosing the company for the right reasons.

  • 2
    Yes, you need to do these calcs yourself for the simple reason that you might weight things differently from someone else - eg two additional days of vacation a year might be worth more to you than a higher pension contribution, whereas someone else might value them the other way round. In other words the "worth" of some of these compensation-package items is not entirely monetary. – Vicky Feb 21 '13 at 11:45
  • Excellent point, @Vicky, feel free to edit the answer to improve it with that clarification! – im so confused Feb 21 '13 at 16:19

IMO... if you're working in a large corporation.. wouldn't they have a pay scale for the position you're in... and levels of experience required to match that pay level... I'm sure each company will have different pay valuations... so shopping for the best one is probably the thing to do.

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