It doesn’t matter if you hear it from HR, your direct supervisor or in a formal letter, it’s tough to learn that your employment is being terminated.

With so many emotions to keep in check, it’s often difficult to take a deep breath, assess your situation and make decisions that will work in your favor.

Once you calm down and look at the entirety of your situation, you may soon realize that it’s time to negotiate severance pay. Here are some tips for successfully doing so:

  • Review your contract: To start, review your employment contract for more details on the terms and conditions of any severance pay you’re entitled to. This is something you may have negotiated before starting your job, and now it’s time to review it once again. If you have a severance pay condition in your contract, it’s much easier to receive it upon termination.
  • Ask for severance: If you didn’t negotiate severance into your contract, the company is under no obligation to provide it upon your termination. However, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to receive something for your good work over the years.
  • Review the terms of your severance package: Regardless of the circumstances that resulted in receiving severance, it’s critical to closely review the terms and conditions of your package. From the compensation to the benefits to any non-compete, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.
  • Negotiate more than pay: Many people make the mistake of focusing 100% of their negotiations on pay, but other details are just as important. For example, you may want to negotiate the extension of health insurance and/or request payment for vacation and sick days.

While moving through the process, keep your cool and take detailed notes of every conversation you have with a company representative.

It’s your hope that you’re able to leave on good terms, but this doesn’t always happen. For example, if you have a severance clause in your contract but your employer argues that you shouldn’t receive this pay, you must stand up for your legal rights. Neglecting to do so could result in a situation in which you miss out on thousands of dollars, among other benefits.