Did you know that it is possible to negotiate a severance package?
Believe it or not, the best time to do this is at the time you get hired, when you're negotiation all of the other aspects of your compensation and benefits package. This may strike you as odd, but the thinking here is very much like get a prenup before you get married. Having severance pre-negotiated (just in case the need arises) is a great idea because it means you won't have the stress of dealing with another negotiation at a time when you may not be in the best frame of mind. You may be taken by surprise when you're informed that your position is being eliminated or they need to let you go for some other reason. How nice would it feel knowing that you've worked out a superior severance package (before you needed it)? The extra compensation will buy you some additional time to look for a new job that's a great fit, rather than having to take any old thing so you can pay your rent.
The 4 things you can negotiate:
More money: employers generally aren't require to offer severance, although, provided you're not being fired for cause, most employers will give you 2 weeks. Generally the higher your rank in the organization the more more $$ you will get.
Bonuses and Commission: Many organizations require you to be employed at the time of a bonus/commission pay-out. This is negotiable.
Letters of Recommendation: A nicely worded letter praising your contributions to the organization can help in your search process. (Don't worry to much if you can't get this, being let go doesn't have the same stigma it used to).
Outplacement/Job Search Services: Many mid-large size organizations will pay for outplacement. This includes job search coaching, interview preparation and other job-search services.
Don't worry if you didn't negotiate the terms of severance upfront. You can always do it when you need it.
In the event that you found ou
t that you'll be receiving a severance package, it's never a bad idea to ask for a few days to review it and follow up with them. One of the best things you can do during this review period is to consult a salary negotiation coach. They can help you evaluate the offer, determine what else you might ask for, and will help you figure out how to approach the conversation. Having thought through everything upfront and possibly even practiced some role plays with your coach, will help you go into the conversation feeling as relaxed as possible (given the circumstances)!