I Want to Be Hired, but What If Later I Get Fired?
By Anne Fisher

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Dear Annie: I just got my MBA, after 15 years in a manufacturing industry (now changing fields), and am being interviewed by several companies, one of which is in turnaround. I believe it'll succeed, but I'm wondering if I should ask for some guarantees when it comes to vesting and severance, in case my position gets eliminated. I know senior executives ask for such things all the time, but what about middle managers? How do I bring it up? --Covering My Bases

Dear Bases: Very carefully. First, says Joseph Rich, vice chairman of executive compensation firm Pearl Meyer & Partners, there should be nary a peep about this until you have a firm job offer and have nailed down all the pecuniary basics (salary, bonuses, options, etc.). Then, apparently, a secret code comes into play, in which the word "severance" is never uttered. Instead you use the word "security," as in the following sentence: "I have tremendous confidence in the future of this company, of course. But in any turnaround there is always some uncertainty. So naturally I'm just a little concerned about my and my family's financial security, just in case ..." Then stop talking. If the numbers you hear aren't what you're used to, there's probably a little wiggle room but not much. "My experience is that firms that are willing to extend additional severance benefits don't really need to," says Rich. "But if you're concerned about this, hold out for a better situation." Trust your gut.

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