A few weeks ago I accepted a job offer. Because I'd been out of work a long time and have a lot of debt, I considered asking for a signing bonus, but my spouse was afraid that trying to negotiate anything would jeopardize the offer.

Now, two weeks before the job begins, it looks like I'll need the extra money more than ever. Is it possible to ask for a bonus at this point, or is it too late?

Alternately, is there a way to ask for a salary advance? That would take a little financial pressure off.

  • 4
    Sounds like a terrible idea. Either you do it right away when discussing the contract, or you don't. What would you think of if they had at the time promised you a signing bonus just to two weeks later change their minds? Regarding the salary advance, that should have been asked at the right moment (when interviewing / before signing the contract).. Jan 3, 2019 at 0:04
  • It probably doesn't matter, but I didn't sign a contract; I responded "Yes I accept" to their e-mail. I don't know if that's closer to "verbal agreement" than "implied contract" or what. They haven't completed the background check, so technically they haven't committed to me either.
    – user97436
    Jan 3, 2019 at 0:09
  • 1
    It sounds like you gave a verbal commitment and the company is drawing up the contract. You can still negotiate if you haven't signed the contract, but it's bad etiquette to do so unless you have another competing offer and you want the company to match or top the other offer.
    – jcmack
    Jan 3, 2019 at 0:18
  • 1
    You haven't signed anything yet, so you could try to ask for a signing bonus. But, you also haven't signed anything yet, so they could say "thanks but no thanks, we'll hire someone else." Food for thought.
    – Steve-O
    Jan 3, 2019 at 1:08
  • Forget about asking for an advance, no chance. It would jinx the deal.
    – Fattie
    Jan 3, 2019 at 11:58

3 Answers 3


Both will be difficult.

It's perfectly okay to ask for a sign on bonus, but the time to do this is during the offer process when you are negotiating salary, benefits, relo, and any other conditions of employment. Once you accepted the offer, it's pretty much over. It's a contract that both parties have agreed to.

You can ask for a salary advance, but it it's not a great way to start a new job and creating good first impressions. It may also simply not be possible because of company policy and/or local law. How exactly this will be perceived depends a lot on the location, local culture and company culture.

Your best shot is to ask "discreetly" if that's possible. Contact one person that you feel is most likely to keep this private: hiring manager, recruiter, HR person. Just be open and politely ask, but do not demand or be pushy. Be prepared to accept "no" as an answer.


Ask if you can start early. In some places that is possible, in other places it isn't. One advantage for them is that you might be able to meet with the person you are replacing before their last day. That early start could put a few hours into the previous pay period, and get some money a few weeks earlier.

Asking for an advance won't be approved, because they would be taking a risk that you wouldn't show up. The signing bonus should have been negotiated in advance. In places where they did give a bonus it wasn't actually given to the person until they started working. It just made the first check bigger, it didn't get the money weeks or months before the start date.

  • Today I actually asked them about starting early. They may be okay with it.
    – user97436
    Jan 4, 2019 at 3:42

Since it is early in your employment, you could ask to sit down and discuss a wage correction. Do it just after your second paycheque. First discover what the company values most: speed, obedience, efficiency, moxie. Then tailor your actions to be the best example of that, and let the higher-ups catch you at your best.
As a finish installer for residential air-conditioning, most of my work was unseen in attics and crawl-spaces. When I knew the owner and builder were at the house, I made sure they both saw me installing the main thermostat using a pocket level. That little step was so remarkable and out of the ordinary, I made an immediate connection. It pays to stand out in a good and unique way.

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