How to Negotiate a Signing Bonus Out of College

When you’re happy to have a job, negotiating a signing bonus right out of college may seem like a far-off dream. And it might not even seem like it’s worth it, for fear of scaring off a job offer.

But, never fear! It’s possible to negotiate a signing bonus right out of college — you’ve just got to know how to talk about it and seal the deal in a way that makes both parties happy. Read on for three tips on how to negotiate a signing bonus out of college:

Set yourself up to be competitive

A signing bonus means you’re an especially valuable and interesting candidate to the HR manager. The only way to make that happen is to make sure you’re especially valuable and interesting!

For starters, study hard and participate in class to make the grades and the relationships that matter. An excellent track record and high-quality recommendations from professors and employers will help cement your value in the HR manager’s mind.

Work within their budget

Signing bonuses don’t have to blow your prospective employer’s budget, a common misconception. Consider offering to have it come out of your salary!

Instead of asking for a salary plus a signing bonus, ask for a portion of your salary up front with a reduced salary the rest of the year. For example, if you are offered a salary of 33K, provide a counter offer of 31K with a 2K signing bonus. It’s the same cost for the employer, with an added bonus for you to get you started.

This will take additional planning on your part to ensure you don’t blow your budget, but it might help with the initial costs of relocating and securing an apartment or home.

Give a reason for them to work with you

Politely and respectfully address the topic of a signing bonus and be sure to share your reasoning. HR managers are people, too, so odds are they will understand a signing bonus if you explain you’re relocating, paying down student loans, or paying off costs of a new apartment.

It also helps to reassure the hiring team that you’re eager to join the team, and you’d love to find a way for both parties to be excited about the partnership!

Would you be open to trying to negotiate a signing bonus? Or would you rather have a higher salary to begin with?


How to Negotiate a Signing Bonus Out of College — 3 Comments

  1. Good tips. I was thankful just to get a job after college. I graduated in 2005 and the economy wasn’t that great at the time in my industry (well probably in many industries. There are a few sign-on bonuses in the non-profit world, many of those that I’ve seen have been for nurses, not social workers :-(.

  2. Good ideas here. I’ve never received any signing bonus, and like KK, was just happy to have an offer for a job that paid money. A lot of the bigger companies I spoke to during this time had set figures, as they are constantly worrying about being sued, but I think working within their budgetary restrictions and offering to have it come out of your salary are great tips.

  3. It’s always worth trying to negotiate at least once. A lot of people never even try even though most job offers are intentionally on the low end of what the company is willing to do.

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