Asking for a signing bonus can apply to any worker at any time. The more rare your skills, the more likely a sign-on bonus will be part of your package. So, certainly a high level executive who is being wooed away from one company to join another can negotiate a bonus, but even a swing shift manager at McDonald’s could be offered one also. If the shift manager had some special talent at management, or special expenses tied to taking this new job, or perhaps could promise to bring ten new childrens’ birthday parties/month – all those could underwrite a signing bonus. The McDonald’s owner might not call it a signing bonus, but cash up front, above and beyond salary is in that category.
Here are some categories to ponder when thinking of this option. Making up a loss, security, acknowledgment of special contribution, supply and demand, part of relocation,
Making up a loss. If leaving your job now disqualifies you from a bonus, a vesting, a commission, you can ask to be “made whole.” So, instead of having to increase your annual salary $10,000 to match/exceed your current package, they can give you a signing bonus as a one-time payment to cover any losses you’d expect. Sales people often have to forgo commissions they’d be entitled to if they stayed.