How to Say It: How ’bout some severance pay?

Discussion: January 19, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

A reader’s query:

My company has announced a layoff, and it includes me. There has been no mention of severance pay, just “Goodbye and good luck!” Many of us have been here a long time. I want to approach management to ask for some kind of severance package. How should I say it?

How to Say It: What’s a good way to ask for severance if you’re being laid off? Is it even reasonable to ask for it? Do companies owe anyone a severance package?

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Readers’ Forum: Is this company worth working for?

Every January, pundits publish their predictions for the new year. I don’t make predictions because I prefer not to be judged when I’m wrong ;-)

But it’s not hard to surmise that if the economy improves this year, the employment shoe will be on the other foot. The personnel jockey who has routinely been spitting rude questions at job applicants and challenging them to accept 20% lower salaries will likely wind up swallowing bile in 2010. Time to get out the kleenex and wipe up the drippings.

Computer World's Between the Lines by John Klosser

My favorite IT (information technology) publication is ComputerWorld. The first 2010 edition includes a cartoon from the very pointed pen of John Klossner that every smart employer should take a look at. (And if you’re a job hunter, take note: Employers can whip you only so hard in job interviews before you instinctively tell them to shove it.)

There are two messages in this cartoon. First, challenge employers to assess whether they are qualified to hire you. Maybe the company isn’t a good place to work. Second, Pursue Companies, Not Jobs.

While the demoralized guy in the applicant’s chair says he’s “looking for someone,” he’s really looking for a company.

A sound company.

And that’s the point. You may need a job and a paycheck, but you also need a future that doesn’t require going job hunting again in a few short months. While you’re sitting across the table from that interviewer, figure out, Does this company suck?

Yah, there are other ways to say what the guy in the cartoon is saying. What are they? How do you politely but clearly challenge the employer to make sure it’s a company worth working for?

[Computerworld does not seem to publish the cartoons from its magazine in its online edition, or I’d link directly. Credit where it’s due: Computerworld, January 4, 2010.]

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How to Say It: I have no degree, but hire me

Discussion: January 12, 2010 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter

In today’s newsletter: A reader without a college degree wonders how to win a job where a degree is required.

I have ten years of work experience, but I do not have a degree. What is the best way to answer when an interviewer asks why I do not have a degree? I know that my experience is more than sufficient to do the jobs that I am applying for. How should I answer this question? Can I get around my lack of a degree?

Can it be done? Have you done it? How would you advise this reader to tell it to the manager?

How do you say it?

(If you’re manager, when is a college degree negotiable, if at all?)

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