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VOL. 39 | NO. 26 | Friday, June 26, 2015

Negotiate a less-painful exit before accepting job

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Last week, the Internet was buzzing about the struggles of Gap and Lucky Magazine.

Gap announced it will lay off 250 workers and close 175 stores. From the outside, Lucky appears to be going out of business or reducing operations considerably.

At Lucky, there are rumors claiming many people were laid off without any severance.

I received an email from a reader about just this issue, and what workers can do to prepare.

Many people have grown accustomed to the idea of receiving a financial package when a company restructures and lays off a group of employees.

In fact, many employees volunteer to take part in these programs because they can be financially attractive. From the employee perspective, the money provides a cushion to live on while they look for a new job.

From the employer perspective, severance can mitigate their legal risk. Often, when you accept a severance package, you sign a separation agreement. That agreement typically states that you will not pursue legal action against the company in the future.

Unfortunately, not every company opts for this path.

It’s not unheard of for an employee to be given just a few days of notice with very little financial support.

Given that, and the volatile state of the workplace today, what can you do to protect yourself?

First, it would be great to negotiate a “golden parachute” with your employer on the way in. These agreements guarantee a large financial payment if the employee loses their job. Unfortunately, this type of arrangement is normally reserved for an executive-level employee only, such as a CEO.

At times, companies help to minimize risk for mid-level employees by offering a signing bonus.

This extra money is typically given to offset the risk you face when you leave your good job and move to a new city for an opportunity that might not work out.

It’s often not 100 percent yours until after the first year.

And, unfortunately, companies just aren’t handing out signing bonuses like they once were.

They’re now only given if the company is highly motivated to hire you and is typically reserved for unique skillsets like engineering.

The fact is that you could find yourself without a job, or a severance, in a city where you don’t have many ties. This is a reminder that we’re in charge of our own destinies, and the CEOs of our own careers.

Companies aren’t as cushy as they were for our parents. It’s not guaranteed that your company will take care of you just because you’re a loyal, hard worker.

All of this suggests that employees should be diligent about having a three- to six-month emergency fund available at all times for just this sort of thing.

It also reinforces that we should network and keep our resumes up to date. You never know when you might need to look for a new job.

Things often happen that are totally outside of your control – even when you’re a good employee.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.

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