Why Your Severance Package Should Include a Provision for Career Services

By: Wendi Weiner

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You're a senior executive with a 20+ year career at a Fortune 500 company. You've grown the company to revenues of $450M+ in that time span. You've led cross-functional teams, driven business profits, and re-engineered processes to optimize even better solutions. You're at the top of your game -- with a family that relies on you to support them. You put in the long hours, the late nights, the weekends, and you have truly become a change agent for the company.

It's Monday morning. You haven't even finished your first cup of coffee, or checked your email, and you find out there's a big meeting. The CEO just came in and advised that the company is downsizing and your position is being cut; however, not to worry because the CEO is giving you a nice severance package to ensure that you are taken care of for the next 6 months (24 weeks of pay). Part of you is relaxed, and the other part of you is beginning to get frazzled -- you haven't needed a resume since joining this company 20+ years ago. The last time you crafted a resume was after you obtained your MBA from Wharton. Where will you go next? How will you get there?

Rest assured. You have options.

Many companies will utilize years of service to determine severance packages with 1-2 weeks of pay for each year worked. Some will also allow you to cash out accrued vacation time and will pay for insurance coverage for the time frame of the package. While you're thinking about the amount of money you are collecting and reviewing the details of the package, the first question you should ask yourself is: does that severance package also include an expense for career services?

Executive career services can range anywhere from $2,000 to over $7,000 depending on if you factor in coaching, executive biographies, networking sheets, etc. Career services? That's right.

You should most definitely factor in the cost of job search expenses (resume writing, LinkedIn profile writing, job coaching, interview coaching, networking and salary negotiations assistance) within your severance package. Don't forget to think about the time frame it will take you to interview and job search. Pretty soon, by the time all of that takes place, you will be near the end of living off of your severance package. It's time to plan ahead.

In addition to negotiating in career services for your severance package, be sure to get copies of your performance evaluations and letters of recommendations as those may prove to be even more beneficial for selling your value to a new employer in your job search.

Today, more companies than ever are providing job search expenses for employees who are given a severance package. Companies realize just how difficult the job market is and the level of competition that exists for senior executive roles. Before you sign on the dotted line, research executive resume writers and career coaches to find out how much packages cost -- provide that information to the employer. As G.I. Joe used to say, "Knowing is half the battle."

Ending a career with a company doesn't have to put a damper on your job search -- if anything, it should get your engine revved up for a new beginning and a better opportunity that awaits you.


Wendi Weiner is an attorney, Nationally Certified Resume Writer, and globally published Forbes Coaches Career expert. She is the owner of The Writing Guru, a top-ranked resume and career services firm based in Miami, Florida with served in more than 30 industries, 40 states, and multiple countries.

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