Does sign-on-bonus mean it's a pit of despair?

  1. Okay, in looking for jobs so many places offer sign on bonuses and talk like they are so eager to hire me. Of course I will be doing my homework and check the place out before I sign on somewhere, but I wondered about the significance of the offer itself.

    Does a sign on bonus mean I should be leery of the place to begin with, or is this just so common now that even the good places offer a bonus?
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    About pebbles

    Joined: Jan '02; Posts: 562; Likes: 128


  3. by   2ndCareerRN
    A sign on bonus does not necessarily mean it is one floor above the depths of hell, however it may be close.

    The worst thing, IMO, about a sign on bonus is that it is usually tied with a longevity clause. You may heve to agree to stay for 2 years or so. If you are in a terrible place, what do you do? You can leave, but, any moneys you have been advanced is repayable. It is not free money.

    Another problem is the way they often pay the bonuses. A little up front, taxed of course, and tehn the rest at the begining of the following year. Once again taxed. For example, in the long run your 2000 dollar sign on bonus may only be 1400 dollars or so, which is 700 dollars a year.

    My advice is to steer clear of the sign-on bonus. Just go to work there and if you don't like it you can move on. Or take the bonus, but do not spend a dime of it. Stash it into a savings account and let it draw a piddling interest, and then if you decide to move on prior to your commitment being fulfilled, you can give the money back.

  4. by   sjoe
    I'd look at the local market around any facility that offers a hiring bonus. If other facilities are doing it, too, then it is most likely a simple marketing tool in a competitive market (like auto rebates).

    If, however, the other similar facilities in the area are NOT offering such a bonus, you've got to wonder why this one needs to in order to attract employees.

    By the way, my last hiring bonus was tax-free, $2000, paid half after 6 months, the other half after 12 months.
  5. by   dawngloves
    When I did agency, they would offer bonuses to sign on for 3 month blocks at one particular institution. Let's just say that there was a reason this hospital was understaffed and needed to bribe even agency to come!
  6. by   Mattigan
    Pretty much- as far as I can tell.
  7. by   colleen10
    Hi Pebbles,

    I would have to say that just because a place offers the bonus doesn't mean it is a portal to hell.

    Like SJoe said if you look in your area and most places are offering comparable bonuses then, really, these facilities are just trying to be competitive with one another.

    I think another good tool to use in deciding where to work is your gut feeling during an interview. I interviewed at one place where it was pretty obvious that they were just looking for a warm body. I got this feeling like the hiring staff was looking at me like I was a big juicy steak and they were a bunch of ravenous wolves. The interview was rushed and I didn't have an opportunity to ask questions. They didn't even ask me very many questions either. I guess they just wanted to make sure I had a pulse.

    Good Luck and trust the gut!!!
  8. by   Dr. Kate
    Agree with all that's been said with one more caveat: if it's a really, really big bonus, say 10k, there's a reason. The hospital in this area that gives the really big bonus is a relatively okay place in a neighborhood so nasty the place was locked down and provided escort service in the mid-70s when I was a student there. There are reasons they're trying to lure people in.
  9. by   mattsmom81
    I agree with those who are leery of big bonuses.

    Beware: 'Ya never get something for nothing.'

    Enuf said.
  10. by   canoehead
    Perhaps you could work on them for things that don't require you to stay- like paying for your move, or education. Then if you don't like it you'll be free and clear.
  11. by   askater11
    At our hospital...

    Bonus = A very challenging unit...that's having difficulty keeping staff. They are units I wish not to work I've been pulled to them.
  12. by   traumarns
    I have decided that i will no longer take the sign on bonuses.
    my bonus was taxed at almost 50%.

    I also had to sign an 18 month long contract, that will have to be repayed if i should quit before the contract is up.

    In the future, i will forgo the bonus and ask for more money per hour just to see what they say. if i get it GREAT. If not oh well. i have lost nothing and if the place is a whole, i can get out before i get to sunk.
  13. by   MomNRN
    In our area, the sign-on bonuses are tied to competition and desperation. I received a $3000 bonus, half paid up front (taxed heavily I might add), and the other $1500 was to be paid 6 months later. I hated my job and quit 7 months later. Since I did not sign a contract, I got to keep the first $1500. This has since been changed!
  14. by   pebbles
    Hmmm... I never thought of comparing hospitals in the same area like that before - but it does make sense. Just from looking at job postings for the places that list them online, it does seem like the more short-staffed places have bonuses more often than not.

    Thankfully, I'm working with an experienced recruitment/placement firm. They'll negotiate for me whatever I ask them to, and give me feedback as to what is realistic in terms of offers. This might make it easier to keep a better distance and get perspective.

    I think I will scrutinize more closely the places that have bonuses. As people have said, they must be using that bonus for a good reason. And if I can negotiate a hiring contract without a bonus, but with a higher wage, I'll at least be a free agent when I get there. Or as canoehead said, maybe I can get them to pay my moving expenses instead. A bonus would be nice, but "if it sounds too good to be true..."

    Thanks everybody for the feedback!