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THE QUESTION

I worked for my company for four years and two months and was terminated two days ago. I have been offered eight weeks' regular pay and eight weeks' car allowance, plus one month of continued benefits. I am 58 years old and I expect it will be difficult to find a job at this age. Should I sign the "release and indemnity" form, which is due one week from date of my termination, or should I be asking for more compensation?

THE FIRST ANSWER

Daniel Lublin Partner at Whitten & Lublin employment lawyers, Toronto

Older employees, especially those near or in their 60s, should receive disproportionately better severance packages than their younger counterparts. Therefore, two months' pay is probably not a very good severance package considering your age and tenure, although it is impossible to say without more information.

A fair severance package should take into consideration your age, your total tenure, your positions and responsibilities, how long it will take you to find a comparable job and legal precedents – cases where other individuals with similar characteristics went to court and received judgments that we can then rely upon as examples in your own case.

Keep in mind that employers do not generally make their best severance offers to employees right away, as there is an expectation of a little negotiation in most cases. For this reason, you should probably also consider asking for more. Exactly how much more you ask for should be based on an assessment of all of the facts identified above, including any other factors that make your situation unique.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Billy Anderson Founder of the Courage Crusade, Toronto

Let's focus on your other concern – finding a new job. No amount of severance will change that reality.

As human beings, we feel best when we're being proactive and following a routine. Continue to get up at your usual work time, take lunch breaks and coffee breaks like you used to and consider yourself full-time employed at finding full-time employment.

Up to 80 per cent of jobs are found through networking. It's time for you to have real, live conversations with everyone you know (and everyone they know). It's time to have the courage to ask for help, which most people find very difficult to do.

Before reaching out, you want to define what you're going to say in order to make it as easy as possible for them to connect you with potential jobs. People are happy to help, as long as it's crystal clear what you want.

Be specific based on your experience, such as: "I'm a marketing professional looking for a role in the hospitality industry. Do you know anyone I could talk to?" Or: "I'm looking for an admin role at a car dealership. Do you know anyone I could talk to?"

You can also start updating your résumé, but a perfect résumé isn't any good without job leads. Start networking right away, stay positive, and never stop believing in your experience and the value you can bring to an organization.

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