Being Let Go? How to Negotiate Your Severance Package

October 30th, 2013

When you first hear you’re getting laid off, you’ll probably panic. Or get angry. And you may find yourself feeling grateful for whatever severance package you’re being offered. Wait! Keep your cool, take your time and negotiate your parting offer.

So what can you ask for?

Severance packages aren’t available to just anyone.  They’re up to the discretion of your employers, and what you’re offered will depend on whether you’re an hourly worker or in management.

Think about what you need. Is it only money? Could you benefit from having the company pay your COBRA premiums for a set amount of time, or even having them keep you on your current insurance plan for a certain number of months?

Circumstances are going to be different for everyone, but here are some other options you can negotiate for:

  • A lump sum payout based on number of years worked
  • Unused vacation pay
  • Your company computer or smartphone
  • Continued use of the office
  • Paid job coaching or transition counseling

Two other things to consider asking for are written letters of recommendation and your “exit message.” The two are somewhat related. You’ll want to ask your supervisors up front what they will say if asked why you were laid off. And if someone who thought highly of your work can give you a glowing appraisal on paper, all the better. This eliminates the risk that your references will be hard to reach—especially if you were laid off because your company is going under!

Finally, if you worked in a job that that prevents you from working in a similar field for a period of time or if your company wants you to sign a non-compete agreement, use it to your advantage. The law requires employers to offer a larger severance package if they expect you not to compete for an extended period.

No matter what you do or how you feel, take the time to think over your company’s severance offer, and don’t be afraid to negotiate for a better deal before you sign anything. Ask for as much as you can get—the starting point for any strong negotiation—and go for it!

If you’ve been laid off and are looking for your next full-time opportunity or the chance to keep your finances in good shape while on the job hunt, contact Synerfac to see what we can do for you.

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