Can I Ask For A Bonus To Buy a New Work Wardrobe?
Dear Classy Girl-
I am going on a third and hopefully final interview today and I pray I will get the big offer! The position would require me to wear a business suit every day.  My last position required me to dress very casual, either in business casual or even jeans.
I am most likely taking a sizeable pay decrease due to the economy, job market as it is, and I am changing careers.  With that said, would it be appropriate for me to ask for a small signing bonus of lets say $500.00 to help with the cost of literally buying an entire new work wardrobe?  Most people I ask say it can’t hurt.  If I do ask for the signing bonus, should I specify and amount and tell them why I am asking for it?  I don’t want them to think I am just looking for more money.
Thank you SO much!!!  Love your website!
Dressed For Success
Dress For Success,
Thanks for your email! So glad you are loving the website!  Congrats on the third interview!!
Sorry to hear that you have to take a pay decrease, but hopefully it is higher than you expect. My first thought about the bonus is that I don’t think it is appropriate. Most companies can’t really write-off clothing as a business expense so I really don’t think that you should ask for $500 just specifically for new clothes. Plus, I think everyone is kind of in this position when they get a new job so I think it would be unfair for the company to offer you this special bonus. Plus, depending on where you shop, $500 may only cover one nice suit.
Your friends are right that it can’t hurt, but depending on who you are negotiating with, you don’t want this to hurt your status at the new company before you even start. If it’s a smaller company, you may be negotiating with your future boss and I don’t think that would be appropriate to ask for a $500 bonus for new clothes.  Not only that, but you really have to remember that the salary you receive has a lot to do with the salary you requested when you first applied for the job.  You don’t have much bargaining power left if you already listed a lower salary on the job application or during the first round of phone interviews.
Instead of a Signing Bonus, Ask For a Raise
I think I would use some salary negotiation strategies instead of asking for a bonus for clothes. There is no reason why that can’t be part of your negotiation tactics before you come to a final decision on a set salary amount. I would raise it to more than the $500. I think you can get a lot more money annually this way and it would benefit you in the long run by starting you at a higher salary. $500 may cover the cost of some new clothes for the time being, but you will continue to need new clothes over and over again.  So when the company gives you a salary amount, ask for more and say that you need more than that for new suits and since you are already taking a pay cut from your previous job.

Here are some links to affordable office attire shopping and salary negotiation posts.  Hope they help!

P.S. Don’t be afraid to ask for more money. Your comment “I don’t want them to think I am just looking for more money.” You ARE and there is nothing wrong with asking for what you are worth!  Besides $500-$1,000 is really not going to break the company!  That’s pennies to them. 

 What is your advice for Dressed For Success?

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