The GetFive Blog

How to Negotiate Severance

Vector handshake illustration. Background for business and finance.

If you fear your company is terminating your job, it’s important to review the company’s severance offering. Some make this information public, and for others you may have to poke around and consult with past employees who were laid off to get a better sense of what to expect. Once you have baseline information, you can begin to negotiate for a better severance.

Employees who initiate the severance discussions do better than those who wait and receive the company’s standard one, which often is inadequate for their needs. Keep in mind, if you’ve never negotiated in this manner before, you should engage a GetFive coach that has experience in assisting people in negotiating severance.

The first step is to create a plan A with your initial list of requests, but also have a plan B as a fallback strategy.

Here are some key points to keep in mind for successful negotiations:

  • Do not panic! If you know your job is on the line, the law is generally on your side, so companies have to be very careful how and why they terminate certain employees.
  • Think about working with a career coach to plan out a severance strategy — it’s not only about the money!
  • Find an ally within the company who has influence. This person could be your immediate boss, your boss’s boss, or an internal or external client of the company.
  • As a general rule of thumb, avoid making your severance negotiations conditional on your performance. Instead, stress reasons other than performance as to why you need a severance package that meets your needs.
  • Sharpen up your acting skills. You want the severance negotiations to be congenial and a win-win for both you and the company, but don’t be afraid to show emotion and push for a package that will best protect you.

Remember, a good severance package includes not only a monetary payout, but also includes benefits, an “exit statement” in which you and the company agree to the reasons for the termination, and outplacement services as the key components.

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