How to Evaluate a Job Offer – Comparing 10 Factors to Choose the Best Job

Comparing job offers is much more than just comparing salaries. There are many factors you need to consider to help decide which job offer is best for your current, and future professional goals. In this article I’ll share my personal and professional experiences comparing different job offers, and I’ll cover which job offer I took,…
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Comparing job offers is much more than just comparing salaries. There are many factors you need to consider to help decide which job offer is best for your current, and future professional goals. In this article I’ll share my personal and professional experiences comparing different job offers, and I’ll cover which job offer I took, and why.

Several years ago I was in a career transition. I was in a job that wasn’t meeting my professional goals. I felt trapped in a position that wasn’t offering growth opportunity, or the salary I believed I was worth on the open market. After working with my managers for several months, I realized those growth opportunities I was seeking weren’t going to open any time soon. So I put out feelers and ended up interviewing with two companies. And I received great news – I received job offers from both companies! But that put me in a position where I needed to make a decision between them, and quickly. One of the offers was only good for a week because they need to get the position staffed ASAP.

The positions I was comparing were fairly similar on several levels, and on other levels they were very different. But there is a lot involved when evaluating a job offer, so I thought I would share some of the factors I am considering while I am making my decision.

Evaluating a Job Offer – 10 Factors to Consider

The following factors should play an important role in your decision making process:

Job / Position

How does this job fit into your long term career plans? Is this job offer for a job or a career? In my opinion, a job is usually a short term means to an end; a task you perform in exchange for money. A career is a chosen profession that often takes development and planning. Other factors to consider: job title, responsibility level, number of people you manage, reporting structure, etc.

Professional Opportunity & Career Growth Potential

Do you have the chance to grow as a professional and individual? Will you have a chance to make decisions, lead or manage groups, is there promotion opportunity, and can you learn skills that are easily transferable?

Company & Industry Health

How healthy is the company giving you the job offer? Do they have long term contracts or long standing relationships with their customers? Are they having financial difficulties? You will probably already know some of this from your research prior to your interview, but if you have multiple job offers, you can compare the companies to each other.

Work / Life Balance

Quality of life is one of the most important things to me and to a lot of other people. Will you need to carry a pager or cell phone over the weekend? Do you have rigid work hours, or can you work flex time? Can you work from home part of the time? Will you be required to work night shifts, or weekends and holidays?


How long is the commute? Long commutes can have a negative impact on both your health and your cash flow – especially with these rising gas prices. A long commute also cuts into your quality of life because it takes you away from your family longer every day. In my opinion, the shorter the commute the better!

Company Culture

Is the company culture stiff and uptight, jeans and a t-shirt, or somewhere in between? Do people hang out together after work, have frequent happy hours, or participate in intramural sports teams, or is it primarily a culture of “go to work, go home, repeat?” Other factors to consider: company organization, corporate structure, dress code (I know people who refuse to wear a suit and tie everyday!), etc.

It’s important to understand how you will fit in with the rest of the company culture. You don’t have to be just like everyone else, but it is nice to feel that, for the most part, you are in your element.

Travel Requirements

Are you required or expected to travel? How far and how often? Personally, I don’t mind the occasional business trip, but I wouldn’t like being on the road every other week, or for an extended period of time.

Benefits and Perks

I will separate benefits from salary, even though they are closely related. One of the most important factors to consider is whether the health care package meets your needs. Other important benefits: 401(k) plan, pension plan, vacation time, sick time, disability, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, sponsored day care, etc.

Salary / Compensation

Compensation covers a lot of factors; the salary you earn as direct compensation is only part of it. You also need to consider factors such as a commissions, bonuses, stock options, and projected salary increases.

Choose What is Best for Your Situation

Accepting a job offer is about more than just accepting a salary. There are many other factors that are just as important, if not more important, than the final number on your paycheck. In the end, you have to do what is best for you and your situation – even if that means leaving salary or other compensation on the table. If you dread going to work each day, you will be miserable, and that isn’t worth any price.

Comparing Two Job Offers – A Personal Example from My Career

In the previous section, we looked at 10 factors to consider when comparing offers. There can easily be many more than that depending on your situation. To make the comparisons in this section easier, I combined a few related factors together.

Evaluating the Job Offers

Job Position & Professional Opportunity. Both positions represent a great professional opportunity for me. The main reason I was looking for a new job was because I felt I had stagnated in my role with my current company and there was no room for me to grow in the direction I wanted. These new job offers represent a nice promotion in terms of scope responsibility. The job offers are fairly similar to each other and I know that whichever offer I choose, I will have plenty of opportunity for future growth.

Commute and Travel Requirements. The commute for both companies is very reasonable. Each is within a 30 minute drive, which isn’t too long and won’t cost too much for fuel. The travel requirements for both companies are practically nil. So neither of these issues will have much bearing on my decision. However, they could have if the commute was very long or if the position required too much travel.

Work / Life Balance. There is an important difference between the two companies. Company A has a rigid 8-5 work schedule with an hour lunch break, while Company B has a 40 hour per week requirement. The hours for Company B are stated as 8-5, but they don’t mind if you come in an hour early, stay an hour late, or take a few hours personal time – as long as you work the required 40 hours per week. There is also the ability to work from home for a few hours from time to time (for instance, if I had a plumber coming by and had to be home).

Salary, Compensation, and Benefits. Both jobs have similar health care plans. I will end up paying a little more than I am with my current job, but based on the professional opportunity and the potential pay raise I will receive, it will be well worth it. Both companies also offer tuition reimbursement, which is something my current company does not offer. The 401(k) plans for each employer offer the same company match, but the funds they offer are different. Vacation time and sick time plans are the same in terms of number of days, but one company separates the two, the other company places them in one pot of days off.

Here is where the offers differ:

Job Offer A. The most attractive part of this job offer is a 40% bump from my current salary. The tuition assistance this company offers is $5,250 per year.

Job Offer B. The salary for this job offer comes in at right about 32% higher than my current salary. Company B offers $10,000 tuition assistance per year, although anything above $5,250 is subject to income taxes (Federal law). Company B also has a pension plan in which I would contribute 3% of my post tax income, and would receive a 1.5% match.

Company Culture and Health. Here, the two companies vary substantially. Both companies are financially healthy and well-respected, but the culture between the two is very different.

Job Offer A. Company A requires a suit and tie M-Th, and has “casual Fridays,” when employees can wear polo shirts or button down dress shirts without a tie. Slacks (not jeans) are required on casual Fridays. The dress code is more formal because it is in a client facing environment nearly every day. The company’s reporting structure is very hierarchal and formal.

Job Offer B. Company B’s dress code is slacks or khakis and a polo or dress shirt; no tie required. There are some days when a tie and jacket may be required, but I hear they are rare and only if you are meeting with clients. Jeans are allowed on Fridays. The company structure is more team based and not nearly as formal.

To sum it up

Both companies offer a great professional opportunity, room for growth and promotion, reasonable commute and minimal travel requirements, good health care benefits, similar 401(k) plans, and the same number of days off.

The main differences are these:

Company A: 40% pay raise, $5,250 tuition reimbursement, formal company structure, formal business attire, rigid 8-5 schedule

Company B: 32% pay raise, $10,000 tuition reimbursement, informal company structure, business casual attire, flexible schedule, pension plan

No decision yet, but I’m leaning toward one company. I haven’t accepted either offer at this point, but I have until Friday to sign and fax the acceptance letter. I will make the decision with my wife, but we are both leaning toward one offer more than the other. If you know me, I bet you can guess which one I will choose. 😉

Accepting the Job Offer

My wife and I discussed the job offers at length, and while I think the positions both have a lot of potential, I accepted Company B’s offer. Even though the salary offer from Company A was larger than Company B, I chose the second job offer because quality of life is more important than money to my wife and I.

My previous job required me to wear a suit and tie every day, and while I don’t mind wearing business attire, business casual is more comfortable and less expensive to maintain. I also like the idea of having more freedom with my work schedule. I think this will be extremely important if my wife and I have children in the near future.

I contacted my interviewers and hiring manager last week by telephone and let them know I was accepting the job offer. I also signed and faxed the acceptance letter to the HR department. The only thing I wish I could have changed was my start date. My new employer was in the middle of a project and they needed me to start right away.

I would have loved to use some of my vacation days with my old employer and take some time off. I also wouldn’t mind taking a week or two off between jobs, just to take a breather and catch up with some chores around the house. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

I won’t complain though! I am excited about this opportunity, and I look forward to working with a new group of people and in a new environment. 🙂

Your tips… Do you have any tips for evaluating a job offer, or are there things that are more important to you when you decide between jobs? I’m interested in reading them – I have a decision to make very shortly! Feel free to leave a comment! 🙂

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  1. Jonathan@Friends and Money says

    Very helpful article. I used to work as a recruiter and even in tough times I still think it’s important that you derive some job satisfaction from your work. Opting for a job because you need to pay the bills is admirable, but you should still keep looking to find a better match to your skills and abilities 🙂

  2. krantcents says

    I try to talk to the employees I meet about their jobs and how they feel about the company. The receptionist is a great resource when you come to the company. Another is calling HR before the interview and ask questions. Aside from the job related questions, you can ask others.

  3. Jake Erickson says

    I agree with your article. I think the big one for me (and one that is tough for almost everyone) is to turn down a job if you don’t think it fits you. Most people aren’t getting offered jobs very often, so it’s tough to turn one down, especially if it would result in a raise.

  4. Ryan says

    Randy, I didn’t put salary first for a reason – yes, I believe you should earn enough to survive, and hopefully more than that so you can truly enjoy life and save for retirement. But I also believe that nothing good happens when people chase the highest paying job. People will be much happier taking a lightly lower paying job if it means the job is fulfilling vs. taking the highest paying job that is dangerous or soul sucking. The best advice I can give is to take the job that offers the best quality of life when considering all elements of the position. 🙂

  5. Randy says

    You didn’t put salary as the first thing to consider, though it is very important. When I started my own business I didn’t make a whole lot, but enough to pay bills, salary and a little more. But I got to do what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it with so much flexibility. That was truly awesome. I know money should be secondary but do also realize you do need enough to cover your living expenses.

  6. Ryan says

    Hello Sheena,

    I think you have answered your own question. If you are habitually late and cannot make it to work on time and your prospective employer would use that as grounds to dismiss you, it probably isn’t worth taking the job only to lose it a few days/weeks/months later.

    So you have a choice: accept the job offer and train yourself to show up on time, or decline the job offer and learn to make do with your current income.

  7. Sheena Prendergast says

    I have a very similar job offer I am trying to decide on. I work for a great, smaller lenient mortgage broker. I make only $12/hour and am worth more but they can’t really afford it right now. A much larger, strict money making broker offered me a job paying $15/hour. It is about 10 mins further drive. Not so bad… But I am late for everything always. I have tried all the tricks, I just can not seem to make it anywhere on time. Including work. And I know that this company will not put up with that, whereas the company I’m at doesn’t mind and we’re all like a family kind of. I really do not know what to do because I am so broke and I could really use the money, but I don’t want to leave and go there and get fired for being late all the time and have no job and no money. Please help!!!

  8. Abaculus says

    Great information you provided. It’s good that you listed Job / Position. 1st. I think its very important to weigh the long term probabilities of your position in the future. Most people are looking for their dream job. Some people would put pay/income as their 2nd choice, and probably benefits as their 3rd choice. Although some jobs either offer limited or no benefits.

  9. rob says

    You have some great points in your article above.
    I think to me the most important thing to consider is the quality of Life your job offers you.
    I have been on my own for almost 10 years now. I always followed my heart. When I first started my own business it was a little Sign business. I didnt make a whole lot but enough to pay bills and a little more. But the fullfillment I got from doing what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it with so much flexibility was truly awesome.I was hooked on it from then on to be my own boss forever. 🙂

    I say that your job should be something that really does increase the quality of your Life in a positive, general way. Does it get too much in the way with spending time with your family or take away from your ability to maintain your health ?? etc..etc..
    Also money should be secondary but do also realize you do need enough to cover your living expenses and provide for your family.

    I know its cliche but you should follow your Heart. It will truly tell you where your soul should dwell !! 😉

    BTW, Great Site you have here. I have bookmarked it for future reference

  10. Chief Family Officer says

    Congratulations! I would have made the same choice too 🙂 A flexible schedule is soooo important when you become a parent! And I’m sure your new employer is thrilled to have you onboard.

    Will you be telling your soon-to-be former employer the real reason you are leaving? Not to burn bridges as you mentioned previously, but to provide constructive criticism so they can maybe not make the same mistake with someone else in the future?

  11. fathersez says

    Heartiest congratulations.

    Looks like most of your readers choose Company B.

    We are happy for you and look forward to stories about the new environment.

    Best regards

  12. Frugal Dad says

    Congratulations, Ryan! Best wishes on the new job. I’m confident you made the right decision, and it is a great lesson in being methodical with such important life lessons.

  13. Kelly says

    Don’t forget those little benefits you may be taking for granted when getting the full benefits package. Things like direct deposit, standard paid holidays, sick day policy, and short term disability (I checked on long term, but just assumed short term) really go a long way.

  14. plonkee says

    Excellent. You seem to have a very short notice period over there. In salaried jobs in the UK, one month is standard, and one of my friends has three months. Plenty of time to use all that annual leave. May be the lesson is to use it up as you go along? After all, you aren’t indispensable.

  15. Mrs. Micah says

    Awesome! 🙂 I like the idea of more tuition reimbursement and less formality. The best jobs are ones that prepare you to get ahead and challenge you. My dad’s old employer paid for his Master’s degree. He gave them a bit over 20 years of service, too, so everyone seemed happy with the deal. And then when his department got laid off, he had a recent Master’s to contrast his being over 50 and working in software.

  16. Ryan says


    I will get paid for my vacation time – just like a normal paycheck. I would rather have time off though… I can earn more money, but I can’t grow time. 🙂

  17. Ryan says

    Thanks for the kind words everyone. I’m excited about this opportunity.

    Dividend Investor, I have no idea when I will retire; it’s still toofar out to make a reasonable estimate. As for the pension plan, it is pretty small. Still, it’s more than I had before, so there will be no complaints on my end. 🙂

    FFB, regarding the 401(k), I plan on writing about that in a couple weeks. I need to see more details about my new employers plans and whether or not the expenses are lower than my current plan. I can either leave it in place, roll it into an IRA, or roll it into my new plan. I’ll be sure to share. 🙂

  18. Dividend Investor says

    Wow, a 32% raise + a pension plan and a 401K. You will be able to retire earlier that forecasted, I believe 😉

  19. Jarhead says

    So what are you doing withthe vacation time that you have at your current soon to be former employer? Do they pay you for it or are you going to loose those vacation days completely?

  20. FFB says

    Congrats. B sounded like what I would choose. Hope everything goes smoothly. Hey, here’s a post for ya…What are you doing with your 401(k)?

  21. MMJ says

    Congrats Ryan. I have been quietly reading this set of your and it has been really great. I would also choose #2. Actually it sounds alot like my current one. I could go elsewhere for some more money, but choose o stay because of flexibility. Family first for us.

  22. FFB says

    Hmm, more lenient hours and dress code and the opportunity to occasionally work from plus higher tuition reimbursement? I think I’d pick company B. Of course only you know what is better but it sounds like I’d be more comfortable in B. Either way congrats on both offers. They sound like great opportunities for you and I’m sure whichever you pick will be ripe for new posts for us!

  23. Dividend Investor says

    One more day to think about what you are going to decide. Friday is the day we all expect a post how you chose company X over the other etc 😉

  24. guinness416 says

    The thing (in my experience) about a company like A is that if they are strict and “by the book” about hours and dress code, they’re likely going to end up being inflexible about everything else too. So you want to move to that office on the other side of the floor with the better light? Has to go through three managers. You need an extra personal day this year? Can’t do that, everyone would want it! Your boss may have no real input re bonuses. Etc. This inflexibility can be very wearing over time.

  25. Frugal Dad says

    Ryan, I don’t know you offline, but I think I know enough about you online to throw my vote for Job Offer B. The schedule flexibility could allow you to alter your schedule a bit to come in early and leave early, which would be nice for added family time in the afternoons, and blogging time when required. I used to work until 5:30-6:00 and now get off at 4:30. That hour makes a big difference in our evening schedule.

    I am also used to a hierarchical structure, but that doesn’t mean I like it! LOL! I just feel more at home in a less stuffy environment, where new ideas tend to flow freely and the spirit is more entrepreneurial.

    Doesn’t sound like you can go wrong with either decision, but your heart is probably pulling you one way or another. Listen to your gut (and your wife) and you’ll be just fine!

  26. Ryan says


    Great comment. I actually have 5 suits and enough shirts and ties to last. (I wear suits 4 times per week at my current job). I also wash and iron my dress shirts instead of dry cleaning. Suits don’t need to be dry cleaned very often, but they are fairly expensive when they need to be.

  27. Jarhead says

    I tell you what after being in the military for the past 13 years I think it would be time for a less rigid and formal enviroment so I vote B.

  28. Lisa says

    Keep in mind with company A, you are going to have to invest quite a bit more in wardrobe to have enough suits (which aren’t cheap) and nice ties, etc. to wear daily to work, not to mention a dry cleaning bill! With an 8% difference in salary, which really isn’t all the much, and the flexibility of company B’s hours and attire, I would go with company B. Tuition assistance is moot unless you are planning to take advantage of it to work towards some kind of degree or professional certification to enhance your own marketability.

  29. deepali says

    Well I figured someone had to give Company A a vote!

    But, given the better retirement options, I’m going for Company B. 🙂

  30. Ryan says


    In my current job, I wear a suit and tie M-Th, so it’s not a big transition for me to go to Company A. I was also in the military, so I understand a hierarchal structure.

    I’m not 100% sure how the tax situation works for tuition assistance over $5,250. Give me a few days, and I can write a post about it. 😉

    Yes, Company B has both the 401(k) and a pension plan. That’s not a bad deal. 🙂

  31. deepali says

    I dunno, you seem like a suit and tie kind of guy… 🙂

    I’ve been told that the tax on the tuition reimbursement (over $5250) is deductible…?

    Does company B have a pension plan and a 401K?

  32. Ron@TheWisdomJournal says

    I’m glad you didn’t put salary as the first thing to consider, though it is very important. I’ve made two job decisions based on salary and I’ve regretted both!

  33. Dividend Growth Investor says

    If I were you, I would also be leaning towards company B. Would it be too much to ask for the industries these two companies are in?

  34. Ron@TheWisdomJournal says

    Wow. I think I’d choose B myself. I’m working for an A type company now and it’s getting old…

    The tuition thing is huge, as is the company culture.

  35. Becky@FamilyandFinances says

    I, too, hope you go with Company B. To me at least, more money is never as important as flexibility and being able to wear comfy clothing 🙂

  36. Ryan says

    Thrifty Homeowner,

    Thanks. The market I am in right now is currently growing, and the companies are ramping up for a couple large projects.

    I also had a couple recommendations from people who worked at the companies I interviewed with. Using my professional network was a big help in landing the interviews.

    Good luck with your search! 🙂

  37. thrifty homeowner says

    Congratulations. I’ve been looking for four years and haven’t gotten any offers, and you get two in one week.

    I’d definitely go with Company B. Much better environment.

  38. No Debt Plan says

    I’m hoping you are leaning towards Company B. Much better deal and sounds like a more healthy environment. But that’s just from a few details 🙂

  39. No Debt Plan says

    If someone called you and told you they position was no longer available, which one would you truly regret not taking?

  40. Ryan says

    Jarhead, I agree. A short commute is nice to let your unwind. And yes, Metallica can take the stress out of just about any situation. 😉

  41. Ryan says


    I agree. I am the kind of person who needs a challenge, but I also have to believe in what I do. Otherwise, I just don’t perform well and it shows.

  42. Ryan says


    I’m all about quality of life! My time is limited enough as it is, and the last thing I want to do is spend 2 hours in a car every day. Your tips on growth and opportunity are right up my alley as well. In my opinion, they are more important than salary, especially when starting out.

  43. Maria @ Financial-Tip says

    Don’t forget to follow your instincts in the end. if you have to convince yourself to take a job because of intellectual reasons, and your heart isn’t into it, think twice.

  44. deepali says

    Research shows that shortening your commute is one of the top 5 ways to increase happiness. 🙂

    I agree that quality of life is key as well… and I tend to pick benefits (ie, good 401K matching, reimbursement of tuition or commuting expenses, etc) over salary. The second can always change later. 🙂

    You alluded to this – but room for growth? Unless you’re only looking for a short-term thing, it’s important to consider your options for promotion/learning new skills, etc. Also, opportunities for networking and other professional development… even something like skills training.

    Good luck!

  45. Jarhead says

    While a long commute is detrimental a commute that is too short can have the same impact. A commute of about 30 minutes is nice because it lets you unwind from the stresses at work. You can drop everything just by blaring a little Metalica or something and then when you get home you have all those stesses gone and have productive time at home without stessing the family.

  46. Frugal Dad says

    This is an extension of company culture…I have made it a habit to look around desks, cubicles, etc. when being interviewed to see what kinds of things my potential bosses and coworkers are interested in. If the offices look “comfy” and have things like plants, souvenirs, family photos, etc. displayed then I know that workers feel comfortable enough in the stability of the company to “settle in.” If the majority of the offices are bland with nothing but computers and papers on the desktops that tells me the workforce is “traveling light,” a sign of uncertainty.

  47. Ryan says

    Excellent comments. 🙂

    The work environment is very important to me. I want to go where I am comfortable.

  48. Dividend Investor says

    I have nothing else to add except go with your gut. Accept the position with the people with which you “clicked” best. Chances are you will have to work with them, so you’d rather work with individuals who are similar in nature to you.

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