Should I Wait for My Bonus, Or Start My Job Search Now?

Chris Allaire
Chris Allaire

The year is finally coming to a close, and you’re really looking forward to collecting that end-of-the-year bonus. Considering all of the challenges that you faced at work over the past 12 months, you feel that you really deserve it.

But at the same time, the situation at work has made you realize that it might be time to start searching for a new job. From what you’ve read, there’s never been a better time to look for a new job, especially in the tech industry. Employers are fighting for top talent.

What do you do? Do you stick around for your annual bonus, or take advantage of the fact that there’s hundreds of thousands of open positions that employers are desperate to fill?

My knee-jerk reaction would be that if you’re waiting on a sizable bonus and don’t have an urgent reason to leave, then you should simply wait it out. That said, there’s a couple of things to consider:

Is the bonus really coming? Am I really going to get a bonus, or is my employer just dangling a carrot in front of me? A lot of cash-strapped companies didn’t give out bonuses last year. Although the economy has improved, it hasn’t been across the board. Clues that a bonus might not be coming include positions that remain unfilled or are outsourced — signs your company is trying to save money.

Is it worth waiting for? If we’re talking about a substantial bonus, that’s one thing. But if it’s not, you could bring in just as much at a job where the salary is higher than you’re making now. Spend some time crunching the numbers.

When will I get the money? Many companies announce bonuses in December and don’t get around to paying them out until well into the new year. Does waiting several more months change how you feel about staying? If that’s the case, you might consider starting your job search now.

Why do I want to leave? If you’re not getting along with a manager or don’t feel like you’re a good fit for your team, you have to weigh whether it’s worth it for you to stay for a couple of months and collect that payout. Your bonus might not be worth a few more months of mild frustration.

If you’re generally satisfied where you are but think you aren’t being paid what you’re worth, ask for a raise. Keep in mind that it’s rare for a current employer to be able to match the salary and benefits that a new employer offers. Another thing to remember is that the majority of people who decide to stay for a higher salary end up leaving within a year anyway.

If you’re not happy with your current benefits package (including things like the flexibility to work from home), if you don’t see opportunities for advancement or growth, or if you aren’t being challenged by the work, speak to your manager. Companies are working hard these days to retain their top talent. Especially if what you’re asking for doesn’t include a salary increase — something that often requires approval at multiple levels — you might find that your manager is more than willing to make changes in order to keep you.

If your decision about whether to look for a new job is just about timing — Is the end of the year really a good time to be on the job market? — let me reassure you. As I’ve written about in this column before, Q4 is an amazing time to be a job seeker. The candidate pool is smaller, so your resume will get additional attention. Hiring managers are desperate to fill positions before the end of the year because they will lose that budget line. The hiring process is less stressful because it doesn’t drag on for months.

At Averity, we’re busier than ever before. We’re being asked to fill opening for positions ranging from entry level all the way up to executive level. We can assure you that there are lots of great-paying jobs out there for ambitious people in the tech field.

When people ask me about starting a job search during the holidays, my answer is always the same: Don’t wait until after the first of the year, when job boards are overloaded with people competing for the same positions. You might end up feeling frustrated with the search process and put it off for six months or a year, when you’ll be in exactly the same situation you are right now.

Chris Allaire
Chris Allaire

Chris is an entrepreneur, pilot, avid golfer, pretty awesome cook, crab cake connoisseur, guitar player, and a proud husband and father. When Chris isn’t playing with his 2 daughters or traveling with his incredible wife, he is recruiting for Open Source Engineers in New York City. His love for recruiting stands just shy of his love for the Boston Red Sox. Chris has almost 20 years of recruiting and staffing experience on a National level with over 10 years in New York City, both contract and full time.

; ; ; ;