Then there are non-compete clauses that prevent you from working from your employer's competitors for a certain period of time and, unfortunately, are common in many industries. Although many HR professionals and employment attorneys say non-competes are tough to enforce, why chance it? In some cases, the mere existence of a non-compete can scare away a future employer. So it is definitely something to negotiate away, if at all possible.
If you feel paralyzed or confused about any of these clauses or any other aspect of your severance agreement, consider a consultation with a career coach or an employment attorney who comes recommended.
You may still be employed now, but it's never too soon to look into your company's severance policy, just in case.
"Most mid- and larger-sized companies today are brushing up their severance plans and have this information posted or available by asking your HR person," said Eikenberg, the Atlanta career coach. If not, see what information you can dig up by talking with the coworkers you trust, past or present.
And if you find yourself of the losing end of a pink slip, remember that a little sugar goes a long way.
"I've had to lay people off, and it's a miserable experience," said Thanasoulis-Cerrachio of SixFigureStart.com. "I think managers feel so bad having to lay people off that they'll do whatever they can, especially if the employee is up front and remains positive."
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist, author and former cubicle dweller. Her books — "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube" -- offer an irreverent take on the traditional career guide. More tips on career change, flex work and the freelance life can be found on her blog, Anti9to5Guide.com.