Return of the Signing Bonus?

Updated writer

Rarely seen since the dot-com boom, signing bonuses are making a comeback -- sort of.

From the late 1990s until 2001, the national unemployment rate hovered around 4 percent. With business booming, employers pulled out all the stops, making sky-high salaries, stock options and signing bonuses fundamentals of offer letters.

"Back in the late '90s, companies felt they needed to move (on hiring a candidate) right away," said Dave Sanford, executive vice president of client services for Massachusetts-based contingency placement firm Winter, Wyman and Companies.

But when the country plunged into recession in 2001 and tightened the job market, fewer companies offered signing bonuses to new employees.