RE: Tech writers and severance packages

Subject: RE: Tech writers and severance packages
From: jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 09:18:20 -0500

Dear Anon,

Most times where I have heard of anything like what you're proposing, it has
come in conjunction with an announcement of the imminent demise of the
company. When they announce that they will be closing up shop, they do need
some people to stay on through the bitter end. Those people necessary to
stay and close things down in a tidy fashion are often offered bonuses or
other types of separation packages to ensure that they stay through the end
and not jump ship prior to the official scuttling of the vessel.

Other than that, I think you need to start looking now if you fear that the
iceberg is dead ahead. There's no shame in being a smart rat and getting off
the ship early.

I also have witnessed exactly the kind of 'separation package fall off' that
you mention. When the mighty Wang Labs started its death spiral, many people
were let go and got very decent indeed packages. A year or two later when
only the hard core folks were left, there was practically nothing left. One
guy (principal level writer) with almost 20 years at the company got three
weeks. Contract that to the guy who had just started two weeks before the
first layoff who got 2 months severance ...

Good luck, but remember that luck is preparation meeting opportunity,


-----Original Message-----
From: Anonymous [mailto:anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com]


I love my job, but am worried that my company is not long for this world.
So, reluctantly, I'm going to look for employment elsewhere. I consider
myself a decent negotiator, and have been happy with the agreements I've
made on the last couple jobs I accepted. But I've learned a lot about
negotiating from this list, so I want to poll you on this issue:

Have you ever negotiated a severance package into your agreement? Is this
ever even *done* in our line of work?

It's been my experience that only executives ever get to do this; that
our jobs are too low on the food chain for us to be able to make such
requests or demands. But I've also learned that nobody's going to give
you anything unless you ask for it.

The main reason I'm contemplating leaving my current job is that there's
no safety net. Although most of the people my company has laid off
received nice severance packages (owing to government regulations that
make such packages mandatory when a certain percentage of the workforce
is laid off), I fear that by the time *I* get let go, there'll be nothing
left in the till. But all the executives here will be taken care of by
their severance packages, which were written into their contracts when
they joined the company.

This is NOT an "Oh, the unfairness of it all" rant. The rules for
executives are always different than the rules for the worker bees. I
accept that.

But am I accepting too much, by thinking that it's "not my place" to ask
about severance arrangements when I'm negotiating a job offer?

Now's a great time to buy RoboHelp! You'll get SnagIt screen capture
software and a $200 onsite training voucher FREE when you buy RoboHelp
Office or RoboHelp Enterprise. Hurry, this offer expires February 28, 2002.

Have you looked at the new content on TECHWR-L lately?
See and check it out.

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