Recruiters: Can a Sign-up Bonus Work for You?

A bonus for signing on to a new employer does sound like something reserved for football players and movie stars. However, due to the amount of competition for talented applicants and even jobs themselves, recruiters have begun offering incentives to job seekers in an effort to get new blood through the door. These introductory benefits aren’t as rare or exclusive as you might think, either.

Recruiters: Can a Sign-up Bonus Work for You?

Fresh Skills

Sign-up or sign-on bonuses are an old but very useful tactic for all kinds of businesses, ranging from magazine subscriptions to software packages.

In recent years, the idea has been refined by the casino industry to the point that welcome bonuses are more of an expectation than a gift. Part of being able to understand what new mobile casino UK is involves searching through tens of different bonuses for something that’s both worthwhile upfront and later down the line. Sites like BonusFinder UK have emerged to do this sorting for the customer.

Of course, this kind of website doesn’t exist for job applicants as each sign-up package is unique to the role being advertised. As up to three-quarters of businesses now offer sign-up bonuses to professionals though, the same need exists. It is important to know what a good set of starting benefits looks like. It’s easy to be lured by the promise of fresh skills but it can cause your company headaches in the future.


Bonuses for new starters can be expensive. They are usually delivered in the form of a salary percentage in a lump sum, which means that a company can end up surrendering thousands of dollars in one go. Obviously, when looking long-term, this can be useful if a preferred applicant wants more money than the business can afford in a salary but not from a single month’s budget.

Put another way, it’s a short-term way of meeting employee expectations without potentially damaging later growth.

The obvious problem with this approach is that a signing-on bonus artificially inflates a newcomer’s wages over a single year only, and can produce quite a large financial slump for the employee in subsequent months. For this reason, it may be more effective for a company to offer a smaller bonus (or none at all) at the outset but increase the possibility of more day-to-day incentives.

Payback Clause

As with the casinos mentioned earlier, the fine print of welcome packages should also come with some way of reclaiming any monies in the event that something goes wrong. With gaming sites, a certain amount of real money must be wagered before any winnings made on ‘free’ cash can be withdrawn.

With employment contracts, a payback clause should be included in contract negotiations. These are also applied to employees after they complete expensive training courses. 

Overall, for both employees and recruiters, a sign-on bonus can be a bit of a poisoned chalice. Employees may feel trapped or short-changed after the honeymoon period wears off while businesses will always have to contend with a large financial burden.

It might sound like a quick fix, but introductory perks are always a long-term commitment.

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Workology Editor

Twice recognized Forbes recognized human resources, workplace and recruiting resource established in 2005 formerly Blogging4Jobs. We're a community of contributors, thinkers and disruptors focused on practitioner driven conversations, information and engagement. Workology is focused on the art and science of the workplace for leaders across all experience levels.


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