As concerns over labor shortages mount, more employers are offering sign-up bonuses to get workers through the door — even those that traditionally didn’t before.
“Not all employers offer sign-on bonuses, but those who do typically offer sign-on bonuses for roles that are particularly competitive to find high-quality talent for, like a registered nurse, or for roles that they need to hire a high volume of people for, such as a warehouse associate,” said Sarah Stoddard, career expert at .
A sign-up bonus is a one-time payout when you sign a contract to start a new job. They vary based on the position, industry, and even the person getting hired. Sometimes they aren’t publicly listed on job postings, sometimes they are.
Companies offer sign-up, sign-on, or signing bonuses — all variations of the same thing — to entice potential employees to apply and work for them. In hopes to gain the best talent, companies believe the more incentives offered, the better the talent will be. But even if there isn’t a sign-up bonus offered doesn’t mean you can’t get one.
“It’s important to remember that any candidate can try to negotiate a sign-on bonus as part of their total compensation package during the hiring process, especially if they have competing offers from other employers,” Stoddard said.
Which companies offer sign-up bonuses?
Since there’s no set standard on sign-up bonuses, it’s hard to know which companies are offering them unless you see it in a job listing. For instance, certain McDonald’s locations are providing bonuses ranging from to , but there’s no amount set by the company itself.
“Sign-on bonuses can be offered in a wide range of industries, from tech and health care to restaurants and automotive,” Stoddard said. “In some cases, , and other times a sign-on bonus is offered to a candidate directly as an extra effort to sweeten the deal.”
Beacon Health Management: $10,000
CRST The Transportation Solution Inc.: $5,000
Tri-State Water, Power & Air: $3,000
Assured Home Health: $15,000
Kelly Ford: $7,500
Massage Envy: $300-$500
Is a sign-up bonus a good idea?
It’s important to know what you need to do to earn the sign-up bonus. For instance, some deals require you must stay with the company for a certain amount of time. This could be 90 days, six months, or even a year.
If you don’t want to be tied to conditions, there are other types of perks you can negotiate into your contract.
For instance, ask if you can forego the sign-up bonus and instead ask for a salary bump. Or you can request more vacation days or paid time-off than what comes in the standard package offering. If flexible time is important, ask your hiring manager about working from home or remote options.
“While a sign-on bonus is certainly attractive to candidates, keep in mind a person’s annual salary is going to have a more significant impact on their long-term financial wellbeing,” Stoddard said. “That’s why it’s critical to conduct salary research and leverage tools to help prepare candidates to negotiate their salary before accepting an offer.”
Dori Zinn is a personal finance journalist based in South Florida. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, CNET, Quartz, TIME, and others.