Our jobs are so closely related to our sense of self-worth that when things don’t go as planned, there is a tendency to lose the plot a little.
The job loss may be our fault, it may not be, or it may be somewhere in between. The key thing to notice, however, is that it is rarely totally unexpected. If you read the signs, the writing is on the wall long before you are taken into that room and informed that your services are no longer required.
The worst thing that you can do is ignore the signs and hope that it will all be ok. If you have the slightest concern, it is worth giving some serious (and rational) thought as to why you might be doubting your future.
The better prepared you are for that final conversation, the better deal you will be able to negotiate.
Negotiate? You might question, surely if they are asking me to leave, there is nothing left to negotiate. That’s it, I’m finished. This is a fallacy in the majority of cases, and something that companies may not be happy to admit. You certainly won’t be told this in your company induction: “Oh, and by the way, if you do ever want to leave, you will be entitled to this, this, this and this.” Severance benefits are swept under the carpet, and the fact that they are often negotiable is even more so a topic that is never openly discussed.
The severance process is often managed exclusively by HR, but that isn’t to say that they won’t discuss your attitude with your manager. Often, your Manager will want your departure to be without incident, especially as you might still be working a notice period, and they can often act as your secret influencers in the process.
So, having discussed the fact that you have the right to be demanding, what severance benefits are available?
It will often depend on your circumstances and length of service, but the amount of severance pay will often be the first thing to negotiate. There may be strict levels set out in your contract, but consult with an employment lawyer in advance and be aware of what your circumstances dictate. Then, the company can potentially offer you support with outplacement – this means employing an external expert to help you to find a new role.
Many people don’t realize that outplacement may be available. Many others have never heard of it. They are happy to receive the severance pay and often don’t think to ask for more. The company’s outplacement partner will be invested in doing a good job because they will want to win more business from the company in the future. This can sometimes give you that advantage that you need when you are looking for a new role. Otherwise, you are just another candidate in a very, very busy market.
Whatever happens, remain positive. The world doesn’t stop turning. You will find a new role, and you will look back on your time with the company with fond memories.
If your severance package is negotiated properly, those memories will be that little bit fonder.
Written by David Ford
Edited by Paul Drury