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I'm currently pursuing a job in New York city and want to know what the custom is around asking for a signing bonus.

At the time of this post, the fiscal year for my company is about half over and I would expect a substantial bonus at year end (~20%) if I stay on. I would like to ask this potential employer to include a signing bonus when (if) they make their offer to compensate for the bonus I'd be giving up.

Is this common? If so, how do you suggest I go about it?

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From what I've seen with signing bonuses in the South East US, they tend to be given primarily as a means of swaying someone on the fence of an offer.

Typically if I'm saying I'm considering an offer but not biting and they really want to clinch it they might offer me a sign on bonus to get me to agree to it... I've never seen the person pursuing a job ask for one successfully, it's always been the person offering trying to swing someone over in my experience. Of course everything is negotiable...

I would just ask. Say "you know, I'm interested, but I was kind of looking forward to my end of year bonus, I mean I guess I could live without it"... you want to show them you're interested, don't kill the offer over this unless it's a deal breaker, but you can suggest the bait that'll make you bite (i.e. what they need to do to ensure you'll agree to the offer).

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    You can also be direct about it which some people really appreciate and just say. "here's the deal, I'm interested, but I have a bonus I normally get. throw in $(amount) signing bonus and you have a deal." – RualStorge Jun 6 '14 at 19:31
  • I would assume from the location that this is a finance company and getting compensated for lost bonus Is common – Neuromancer Dec 15 '17 at 18:53
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I wouldn't say that this is common, but depending on the company, the level of the position, and the desirability of your particular skill set, you may be able to get some traction. I have negotiated similar bonuses for management positions in the past.

As a hiring manager, I would consider the length of time remaining before your bonus award date to be a factor when determining whether to offer a signing bonus to compensate for loss of annual bonus. If that date is one month away, I would be much more likely to offer a signing bonus than in your case, where it's six months away. A lot of things can happen in half a year.

If I really wanted you on my team, I might instead offer a review after six months instead of at your anniversary date, with the possibility of an "annual" (not pro-rated) bonus at the six-month review. If you are really interested in the position, you may consider taking a similar approach rather than asking for a signing bonus; it involves less risk for the hiring organization by deferring the immediate payout, and it also provides you with a performance incentive for your first few months. It should make no difference to you, as you would get your bonus at around the same time anyway, and this approach has better chances for success in my opinion.

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I have received a variety of "signing bonus" offers. In all cases it was offered in the original offer. That doesn't mean you can't ask, but if they don't have to give you one either. If offered you could also attempt to negotiate on that point. I was able to get a much higher sign on offer by asking for it.

Another option, depending on the company and their compensation plan is stock or stock options. I have received both in offers. This is higher risk to you and lower risk to the company so you while you might be able to negotiate a cash signing bonus, a stock based one might be worth twice as much. That said, stock bonuses usually vest over a period of time (mine vest over 4 years). You are also taking a risk on the company.

The highest risk bonus is stock options. These are just the option to buy at a certain price and will only be worth something if the stock goes up in value. They can also be very lucrative if the stock goes up a lot because typically you will receive a large number of options. I once got a sign on bonus of something like 5000 stock options. The stock went way up, but then went down the toilet before they vested, so while it initially looked pretty good, in the end it was a worthless bonus.

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If switching jobs would mean you are out of pocket by some amount, then it's entirely reasonable to ask for that amount from your new employer . If you go to the new company and say "I was expecting a $10,000 bonus at the end of the year. Will the company bonus scheme pay me that amount, and if not can you pay it as a one-off?" that won't offend them. (Which is not to say you will always get it, of course).

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