Losing your job is always a shock to the system. Hopefully, if this does happen, your company is able to provide some kind of severance (which is not always the case). If they do, here’s the big tip: it’s negotiable! When negotiating severance, be prepared with the following tips.

Wait to sign on the dotted line
Stay cool and calm, even if you are angry. Take a day to look through the materials in the package that your manager or HR person has provided you with, and don’t sign off on it immediately. Then, return to them and ask to discuss the specifics of the package and if there is any flexibility. Have your notes with your requests organized prior to the meeting. For example, “Would you be willing to extend my severance by 2 weeks?” or “Would it be possible to extend my health insurance for an extra month?”

Seniority rules
Have you been with the company for a long time? Then you likely will receive and can negotiate for additional severance. Use it as a bargaining chip. Plus, if you have been the type of employee that rarely takes personal/sick days, your boss may be willing to throw in an extra week or two of pay based on the model employee that you have shown yourself to be.

Ask for other things
Do you want your laptop or office furniture? You might be able to ask for these items if, say, the computer is old-ish and the company has little use for it, or if they would have to move/sell your office furniture anyway. Alternatively, perhaps your boss would be willing to give you extended access to the office equipment to help with your job search. Ask for a written letter of recommendation that you can provide to future employers prior to accepting the severance. This letter does not have to “glowing;” it can be “neutral,” but serve as a way to explain away your unemployment. You may also wish to request that your firm profile stay on the company’s webpage for one month after your departure, to give you “lead time” in conducting your job search.

Finally, make sure to get everything in writing.

Have a question about how to negotiate a severance package? We’d love to help!