Negotiate a Signing Bonus With These 5 Tips

You've heard of the signing bonus for accounting and finance jobs, that incentive often used by hiring managers to entice top talent. But do you know when or how to negotiate for one?

Let's say that after a difficult job search, you were invited in for an interview, and now the company has asked you back for a second interview. Congratulations! If you are successful, the next step will be a job offer.

But what if the salary they offer is lower than you were expecting, or the benefits package leaves something to be desired? By all means, you should try to negotiate closer to the compensation you’re comfortable with, but if your attempt is unsuccessful, you may be able to arrange for receiving an additional payment for signing the contract.

Enter the signing bonus. Here are five negotiation tactics for job seekers who see a signing bonus in their future:

1. Wait for an official offer

This applies to any kind of salary negotiation, including signing bonuses: Let the hiring manager be the first to bring up the topic of money. Wait until you have an official offer to begin negotiations. If the hiring manager brings up salary in your interview, offer a range so they’re clear about your expectations and needs and still have room to negotiate.


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2. Do your research

Failing to do your homework before an interview is a basic interviewing etiquette blunder, and it applies to singing bonuses as well. In addition to researching current average financial salaries at similar companies — and you can do so by reading Robert Half's latest Salary Guide — reach out to your social network to find contacts who might have experience with this organization and could lend some insight as to whether they’re amenable to signing bonuses. 

3. Broach the subject

When it’s apparent that the employer is not going to give you the salary you were negotiating for, point out how a signing bonus could make up for it, providing enough of a balance to make you comfortable enough to accept the job.

4. Don’t make it all or nothing

Just as with salaries, it’s always a bad idea to give a potential employer an ultimatum. Even if it’s impossible for you to accept the job without a signing bonus, saying so might send up a red flag that you might not be a good long-term investment for the company.

5. Read the fine print

In most cases, signing bonuses come under specific conditions that will vary from one organization to the next. You may be required to pay back the bonus if you leave the company within a certain amount of time, or the payment may be split up and awarded in increments. Signing bonuses might also introduce new terms into your contract, such as a non-compete clause. Read the fine print to make sure the bonus is truly worth it.

Visit our library of job search advice, and don't pass up our latest Salary Guide, which can help you negotiate your signing bonus with accounting and finance salary data for more than 400 positions.

Editor's note: This post was published in 2014 and updated recently with current information.

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