Laid off? Negotiate that severance

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Though today's labor market remains strong, layoffs at Disney, CNN, Verizon, and a slew of dotcom firms have spurred workers to take a closer look at how they might negotiate a severance package. If you find yourself out of a job, here are some methods that will help you, according to The Five O'Clock Club, a career counseling organization:

* Deal with each compensation issue separately. A severance package is loaded with information, including a cash settlement, career counseling, and benefits. A seemingly large cash settlement may be eaten up quickly if you have to pay for outplacement help yourself.

* Write down what you think is fair and what you think you are likely to get. Talk to others who have been laid off, find out what they walked away with, and use this to negotiate your case. Company policy may have little or nothing to do with what people actually get.

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* Push to continue your benefits. It costs a company little to carry employees on its medical plan. But if you try to duplicate that coverage on your own, it will be costly.

* Try to negotiate for one year of career counseling. Without outplacement, you might spend more time unemployed or take a lesser job than what you would have landed if you had received help.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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