For many workers, getting let go from your job is not thought of as an occasion to be celebrated. Even if you’re not all that emotionally attached to your job, you still have practical aspects of being let go to consider. For example, you need to have living expenses for at least the next few months while you look for another place of employment. Many companies offer this living money in the form of a severance package, but you don’t have to accept whatever your company offers. Using a few basic negotiating techniques can help you get a better severance package to help support you and your family.
Wait to negotiate until you’ve had a chance to think over your terms and prepare for the conversation. Right after you’re told that you’re being let go is not the time to start negotiating. Your emotions are high, and you haven’t been able to think about what you want from your severance package.
Use the things the company still needs from you to negotiate a better severance package. The company may still want you to complete a large project you’ve been working on, train any replacement employees or train current employees who will be handling your job functions. Some companies will want you to sign a release that states you won’t slander or sue the company. You may be willing to sign this release to get your severance package but don’t sign it immediately. Take time to look it over and fully understand what it says.
Write up the list of things you want with your severance package. You might ask for more money if you’re forgoing any pension benefits. If you relocated for your job, you can ask the company to cover your relocation expenses. Extending insurance benefits for you and your family for several months might also be a practical request to consider. A letter of recommendation is also practical because it can help you find future employment. Ultimately, you should ask for the things that are most important to you and your family.
Tell your boss or HR representative what you would like for your severance package during the negotiation process, but don’t leave it at that. Remind them of your accomplishments while working for the company or of any money you made for the company, such as trimming the budget or bringing in new clients. You should also explain the difficulties you’ll face. Explaining health issues and the necessity for a car can help you keep your health benefits and company car a bit longer.
Avoid signing a noncompete clause. This clause may be included in the release the company wants you to sign, and it basically says you can’t work for a competing company. You should not sign this clause. If you have doubts about your ability to understand the documents you’re signing, have them reviewed and explained to you by a company attorney or your own personal attorney.