Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Accepting a Job and a Severance Package at the Same Time

Over on the Jibber Jobber blog there's a great post about the sKewed and often unfair agreements that some companies ask terminating employees to sign in order to collect their severance after a downsizing has occurred. Rather than doing damage control on the way out, I recommend that candidates negotiate their severance packages as part of their compensation package at the point of hire. I know what you're thinking...If I'm trying to get hired why would I want to bring up what would happen if the company let me go? But in this world of downsizings, mergers and acquisitions, corporate scandels, and just general market volatility, negotiating your termination benefits on the way in, when you have significant bargaining power, is a sound career management strategy. Potential items to negotiate include a serial severance package that allows for continued medical benefits and delays the onset of COBRA, allowing your stock options to continue to vest during the severance period, a shorter or more narrow non-compete, additional weeks of severance, and outplacement or professional resume writing services. When discussing these options during the negotiation phase of the interview process, phrase the conversation in a positive, non-confrontational way. Try something like "I'm very excited about this opportunity and I hope to have a long, productive career here, but given the volatility of the market (or given my recent experience of being downsized), I'd like to discuss the details of my severance package should my employment be terminated due to a downsizing." This allows you to assess the firm's "standard" package up front and bargain for a more customized package that protects you professionally and financially on the way out.


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