How to properly negotiate a severance package

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“Hmm…” You murmur to yourself as you see a message in your email inbox. Your boss has set a meeting to speak with you at 11am – Usually you have a weekly meeting with the marketing department that can’t really be missed. But your boss has marked this meeting request as urgent. Something is a foot and it’s probably not good.

Does this scenario sound familiar? If you’ve ever been laid off before, usually it happens suddenly and without warning. Finding work after being laid off can be a monotonous and depressing task. Especially if rainy day funds are tight!

You can better prepare for these scenarios by having a pre-negotiated severance package! This can help you keep your ‘career navigation boat’ stay afloat while you find a new desirable position at a new company.

What is a Severance Package?

Simply put, a severance package is pay and benefits you may be entitled to when you leave a company unwillingly. Unfortunately, companies don’t give these to folks out of the kindness of their heart. Usually the company will want you to not work for a competitor, or promise that you won’t speak negatively about them.

How do I negotiate a severance package?

You can negotiate your severance package in 3 steps:

  • Create a plan
  • Build a Proposal
  • Negotiating the package

Let’s discuss each of these in detail.

Create a Plan

Let’s figure out what we can aim for! Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long have I been employed at this company?
  • What impact have I brought to the organization? Is it positive or negative?
  • If I’m laid off, will my position be replaced? Or will they eliminate the position?
  • Hint: the longer you’ve been at the company, the more value you bring! And the more you can ask for.
  • Figure out how long it will take you to find a new job. This will give you a good idea as to what you can ask for, in terms of pay and compensation

Build a proposal

Some companies will offer you different rates of pay regarding severance (for example, it’s common for a company to offer 1 week of pay per year served). Depending on the amount of the severance package, some will pay over time, and other companies will pay you in a lump sum.

Which makes the most sense for you? Start documenting everything you can think of as to why you deserve more compensation than what will be initially provided! This will help you make a case for your severance package being where you want it to be, or at least in the right direction.

Negotiating the package

  • If your package is not where it needs to be, simply ask for it to be changed!
  • If it appears to be set in stone, and there is not a lot you can do, ask for a compromise (extended benefits, other forms of payment instead of cash etc). You’d be surprised as to what you can obtain for yourself, simply by making the request!
  • Offer to do consulting work! By offering to do some consulting or even freelancer work to make the transition smoother can go a long way in getting what you want in regards to severance pay!

Bottom Line

Figure out what is important to you and make it known. No one is going to know that you deserve more severance unless you ask for it. By doing so, you can continue to navigate your career in the right direction and transition to a new role with less stress.

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