My gut tells me it's a bad idea. When I discussed my salary expectations with this potential employer I told them I was looking for a yearly salary of $85K. When they made the verbal offer they told me the best they could do was $83,200. I discussed this offer with my wife and she feels like since they didn't meet me all the way with salary I should ask for a signing bonus. She feels like a one-time signing bonus might seem reasonable to the employer, since it wouldn't be an ongoing salary expense, just a one-time hiring expense.

The trouble is, in my mind signing bonuses are something that you would expect to see in a highly competitive hiring environment, where job candidates have multiple attractive job offers coming from various firms, all of which are scrambling to attract the most qualified employees and doing whatever they can to get those employees to sign on with them.

That's really not the case with me at the moment. This employer did contact me, and I do have a comfortable job that I can easily stay in long-term. But it isn't as though I've got recruiters lined up at my door begging me to come work for them.

I don't know. Maybe she's right. Maybe I should ask for a signing bonus. I guess I'm just the type of person who feels uncomfortable asking for more money from someone who's already willing to give me a whole bunch of money.

So should I do what my wife says and ask for the signing bonus, or should I go with my gut and leave well-enough alone? Either way I'll almost certainly accept their offer. For what it's worth, I'm a software developer, working for a DoD contractor at a US Air Force base. This new offer is also from a DOD contractor and the fact that I already have security clearance is a big plus in the recruiting process. It's probably one of the reasons I'm so attractive to this new company, in addition to my technical skills, of course.

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    This is just an opinion not an answer. I'd go with my gut.
    – Kilisi
    Feb 29, 2016 at 7:22
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    For what it's worth, I'm lead to understand that signing bonuses are incredibly common in the States, especially in the technology industry. But I haven't really heard if it's typical for candidates to ask for one if the company isn't offering one. Aside from that, if you feel like this salary would be below your market value, a one-time bonus isn't likely to change that and it's a bad starting point for a business relationship.
    – Lilienthal
    Feb 29, 2016 at 8:52
  • About 6 months ago I got hired on with a company that didn't quite meet what I was hoping for salary wise, but they offered a signing bonus without me even saying anything. Job is as a web developer, so very similar industry. So just in my very limited personal experience, the signing bonus seems like a very likely route to go. They know they couldn't meet your salary requirements, I can't imagine just asking about the possibility of a signing bonus would make them pull the offer. Feb 29, 2016 at 14:20

3 Answers 3


Of course you can ask, but I think you'd be pushing your luck. They've budgeted a certain amount for your annual salary that they say they cannot exceed. It doesn't matter if it gets paid up front or over the year, it's still the same outgoing cost. I wouldn't say that it impacts on your longer term "cost effectiveness", because it's likely you'll be up for performance review and possible increase in salary whenever they do them.

In fact, I would probably pitch at it from this angle. Request a performance and salary review after six months when you have proven your worth to the organisation. You may yet still get your "bonus" at that point rather than potentially jeopardising your recruitment.

Given that you have a secure job, you can ask and stay where you are if they refuse or don't give a written offer. But I feel you have very little leverage asking for it at this point. It's up to you to decide if you can or can't live with their offered remuneration.


The answer depends on your actual worth and abilities.

If you are worth more than 85k a year and they are getting a bargain, then there is nothing wrong with asking. If you get it, they will understand soon you are worth it. If you don't get it, they will soon understand why you asked.

Now if you are not "settling" and you ask... well it works both ways. If you get it and you aren't panning out don't expect much of a raise for a couple years. And at the same if you didn't get it and you were mediocre, I would be saying "I am glad we didn't give him a bonus." I also might think you have low self awareness. Probably not a positive thing.

If you meet the criteria below I would ask for the bonus.

  • competitive field and took less pay. Basically betting that you prove yourself quickly at new company.

  • there are immediate job costs to this new field. I have had sales people ask for this to get a new wardrobe - person going from tech to tech/sales. But this could be equipment costs or whatever. Some companies will give small starting bonuses to cover this, while others just give you a "loan" and you pay it back in future checks.

  • had a significant move for the job

  • left a company where you might have received some bonus or settlement in a certain time span where this needs to be skipped for employment in new job.

  • upper management and you want to prove company wants you

  • company is high risk, so bonus offsets possible future employment gap.

  • you play professional sports

  • I don't understand what you mean by left a company where you might have received some bonus or settlement in lieu of job. Why would they give you a bonus or settlement instead of giving you a job? If they didn't give you a job, you're not providing any value. Feb 29, 2016 at 16:12
  • @AmyBlankenship - Meaning that you have 10k bonus due in July, they want to hire you now. You say well July is a month away I want that 10k so need to start after. They need to come up with the bonus before. A lot of times these bonuses are more long-term, and also more significant.
    – blankip
    Feb 29, 2016 at 16:26
  • That explanation doesn't have anything to do with what you said. Are you sure the expression you wanted was "in lieu of"? That expression actually means "instead of," and it in no way seems to convey the meaning you seem to be trying to get across. Feb 29, 2016 at 17:10

This is more of a comment than answer.

I would recommend asking for the sign up bonus. If you don't ask you don't get it.

I got short changed when my company agreed to for a sign up bonus but removed the relocation stipend. It seems to be a common thing, so something to look out for.

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