December 8, 2020

Navigating Year-End Bonuses


You’ve put a ton of hard work in this year. There have been ups and downs and challenges, and by pushing through, you are in a great position with your company to receive that year-end bonus or Q4 commission check. At the same time, you are in the final stages with a company and expecting an offer. You’ve done well in your role and are satisfied with your current company, but are confident that you can do better and take the next step in your career with a new opportunity. After months of searching and interviewing, you have finally found the right role and company. But, shoot, what about that year-end bonus? How do I navigate this? 


1. Transparency. If you know you are going to have to walk away from your bonus, talking about this in the initial conversation with the recruiter or Hiring Manager you are working with is essential. Lay out everything on the table. (example: if you are expecting a 10% bonus at year-end, this is something to factor into your compensation expectations – ie. sign-on bonus, or additional compensation). That way, you have leverage when it comes time for the company to make an offer and everyone is on the same page.


2. Be Realistic. Know where you need to be and understand what you are willing to walk away from. For example, the year-end bonus is great but remember why you are looking for a new job in the first place. Does it make sense to factor half of the year-end bonus into the negotiated salary or ask for a sign-on? These are all things that your recruiter (assuming it is a Hirewell recruiter) should be able to help you with!


3. Be Specific. If you are expecting a $10,000 bonus at the EOY, take the time to factor this into your compensation expectations. Asking for a higher salary, a sign-on bonus, a guarantee, or a combination, is to be expected. Your future employer will be relieved and happy to know that you are doing well enough to receive that bonus or commission check. If you don’t ask for it and be clear on what it is you want or need, there is no way they will know (they can’t read your mind or assume that you need a $10K sign-on bonus!!)


4. Understand the Process. Likely, before an offer is extended, the Hiring Manager will need to get this approved by the Finance or HR team. For them to be able to understand all the factors in a potential offer in terms of bonuses and incentives, it is essential they know this information upfront. You will likely not have as much leverage after an offer is approved as you will prior.


5. Understand your Leverage. Oftentimes, the Hiring Manager will be happy to hear that you are in line for a bonus or commission check due to your performance. They want to hire top performers and this is a good reflection of the work you have put in. This is a great time and nobody will expect you to walk away from a significant bonus or payout.


6. Set Expectations and Know Your Worth. If you are a successful performer and achieving a significant bonus/commission, a company needs to be able to understand and come to play with a solid offer that takes this into account. Know what you are willing to walk away from and what you need to get you across the finish line!


7. Make a Decision and Be Confident! Confidence is key and being well prepared for these negotiations is critical. After both sides have come to the table, understand where the offer is coming in and make a decision with thoughtful consideration. Is this an offer you want? Are you willing to walk away from the bonus given what the company is offering? Does it make sense to wait out for the bonus and pick up the search/keep the conversations on the table until after this is played out? All great questions that we are happy to help guide you through.


Enjoy the holiday season and for anyone in the middle of navigating year-end bonuses or commission payouts, reach out to me – and I would love to connect with you!

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