Do you know what to ask for when you face a job loss? Here are three points to negotiate during this trying time.

Companies change and grow and often face some pretty tough trials. The biggest challenge a company can endure is having to perform lay-offs. Especially if you are in the business world, you have faced losing your job—the thought of getting that dreaded pink slip can cause anxiety, stress and lessen your self-confidence. 

And so the time has arrived. There is talk going around the water cooler about your company and lay-offs. In this case, it’s best to be proactive to get yourself in order instead of reactive to the potential news that you are now a job seeker.

If you’ve been an exemplary employee and the lay-off is not because of anything that you have done, be sure to ask these three questions as you are being handed that pink slip.

1. Ask for a letter of reference.

You will be able to use this letter to have an edge for the upcoming job seeker process. It will be beneficial to have a letter that praises you and your accomplishments. It will also show potential employers that your termination was a business decision and not because of any wrongdoing on your part.

Many people forget to ask for this initially, and it can be challenging to get this letter in the future. Your managers will feel more inclined to get the letter to you quickly because you are proactive.

2. Ask about severance pay.

You are not automatically guaranteed this unless it was stipulated in your employment contract when they hired you. Typically, one week of severance is given for each year of service to the company, but this can be negotiable. 

And, especially if you’ve recently finished an important project, been honored, or achieved a significant goal, be sure to remind them.  It may buy you another week of severance pay that is not in the plan.

3. Are you entitled to unused vacation pay?

In most cases, the answer is no. Some companies allow you to roll over your unused time from one year to the next, while others have a “use it or lose it” policy. Most companies will explain their rules in the employee handbook, but asking to be paid for your unused vacation pay just may earn you a few extra dollars you could use right now.

You may not get any severance or vacation pay, and you especially won’t if you don’t ask for it.  Don’t forget, this is a tough situation for your boss, too, so he or she may be willing to give you more than had been planned on. 

You’ll never know unless you try, and the worst they can do is say no. If the moment passes, chances are you won’t have another opportunity to ask these questions again. Knowing ahead of time what to ask for may give you the confidence to speak up for yourself at this difficult time.  Good luck!