one girl’s guide to surviving unemployment

10 things to ask hr

You’ve conquered the mean reds, filed for unemployment and dealt with health insurance.

This clearer headed time is a good opportunity to revisit your exit paperwork and loop back in with your former company’s HR person.  (Any decent company will give you a few days to mull this over.)

Before I get started on the questions, I’ll just ask that you have a little sympathy for the HR person.  There’s a 99% probability that they had nothing to do with the decision to can you.  So, think compassionately and approach thusly when you drop them a note or give them a call.  While you don’t have a job, it still sucks to have to fire people and deliver bad news, which HR peeps are doing more and more of these days. 

Onto the questions that you need answered:

1. While you’ve given me a lump sum severance, how long does it “officially” last?  (This will be important to understand as far as budgeting.)

2. Will my severance come in the form of a check or via direct deposit?  If it’s a check, is it coming via registered mail / FedEx / UPS, or will I need to pick it up?

3. Am I being paid for unused vacation time?

4. What happens to my stock options / 401K / other profit-sharing benefits?

5. How long am I covered under the company’s health insurance plan?  How long is my Flexible Spending Account active?

6. Can you send me a copy of any non-compete or other pre-employment agreements?

7. What address and phone number do you have on file for me? (important for tax and other purposes)

8. Can I come by to pick up any personal items left in my office / cubical / workstation / locker ?  Or – when should I expect to receive my personal items by mail? 

9. Can I have a copy of my personnel file?

10. How do I submit for expense reimbursement (if you have any outstanding expenses)?

Lastly, as pissed off as you might be, don’t burn your bridges on the way out, either with HR or your former boss.

The last thing that I said to my former boss was to follow up with the client, as they were expecting something done by the end of the day.  I’m not trying to imply here that I’m a saint — I had more than my share of less than stellar moments in the work place — but to hopefully show that a little class will make you feel better. 

This counts for the HR person as well.  They don’t need to be the brunt of your anger.  Remember your manners and don’t let the anger boil back up. 

Now it’s time to get crafty with that severance!

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