Banking

Seven tips for negotiating a better severance package

When you've just been told you're being laid off, the last thing you're probably prepared to do is negotiate your severance package. That's why, according to severance negotiation expert Maury Hanigan, you should be prepared even if you believe your job is secure.

When you've just been told you're being laid off, the last thing you're probably prepared to do is negotiate your severance package. That's why, according to severance negotiation expert Maury Hanigan, you should be prepared even if you believe your job is secure.

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Maury Hanigan, founder of Layoffcoach.com, has some good advice for today's workers: Assume you will be laid off and plan for it. Regardless of how secure you believe your job is, think through the severance package that would feel fair and appropriate for you. You never do your best thinking under duress. Here are Hanigan's tips for negotiating a better severance package:

  1. Approach it like career insurance - have it ready just in case.
  2. Signers remorse. You need time to be sure you have your best deal. Also, if you are over 40 years old, federal law requires employers to give you seven days to consider your package. Don't feel pressured.
  3. Approach the negotiation positively. Tell your employer that the package offered is good, and you would just like to add a few more things. If your demands seem overwhelming, or your attitude is contentious, your employer may not negotiate at all.
  4. Don't focus on the weeks of severance pay. The formula for severance pay is often the least negotiable item in a severance package. To increase your cash compensation, focus on pro-rated bonuses, extended termination date, or contract work.
  5. Finding a new job is top priority. Identify the resources your employer has that will help you find a new job. Information and contacts can be more valuable than cash if they help you find a new, steady paycheck.
  6. Confirm every interaction in writing. Within a few hours of each meeting or phone call, send an email confirming each agreement and listing the actions each side will complete prior to the next meeting.
  7. When you have most of what you want, fold. Employers are genuinely facing tough times and are not in a position to be overly generous. That doesn't mean you should walk away with a thin package, but this is not the environment to be greedy.

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Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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