There are few satisfactions in life quite like finding a great new job. But it is important not to let your pleasure cloud your judgment: before you tell your old employer that you will be leaving, you should consider whether you want to ask for a severance.
One simple question is ask yourself is this: What are all the things your disliked about your old job? Because some of the reasons why you are leaving your old job might be the basis for negotiating a severance:
- Did your old company ever fail to pay you, or take a cut of your commissions, or "forget" to pay you for overtime, or promise a bonus but not follow through?
- Did your old boss or co-workers ever say or do anything that made you uncomfortable for being who you are? Was there someone at work who sometimes harassed you, or bullied you, or made remarks that just were not okay?
- Did your old company make it hard to take family medical leave?
- Did your old company refuse to accommodate you when you got sick?
- Was your old company open to people of all backgrounds, races, religions, and sexualities?
- Did your old company make it hard for you to perform your National Guard duties?
If any of these situations rings true, you might have a legal claim against your old employer. Your employer likely would be interested in avoiding even the possibility of a lawsuit, and so might be willing to negotiate a separation agreement with you. In that agreement, you would promise never to sue your company for anything that happened during your employment, and your company would pay you a severance.
Even if your old company was totally upstanding—respectful, accommodating, and fully professional—you may still be able to negotiate a severance. For example, many companies ask departing employees to sign "separation agreements," in which the former employee promises not to compete for their old employer's clients or customers, or not to disclose their former employer's trade secrets or proprietary information. If your former employer wants to control your future behavior, they should pay you for that.
And remember: Your leverage for negotiating a severance drops as soon as your old employer learns that you have found a new job. So, before you tell your old boss about your new plans, decide whether you want to ask for a severance, and plan your strategy.