24 Questions to ask before you sign any paperwork

“We all have an unexpected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test.” – Isabel Allende

Check this list and add any new ones to your list of questions to ask. Some of the answers might be in your termination paperwork. If they are not, ask to have them answers added – in writing – to the paperwork before you sign it:

  1. What is the reason for my termination?
  2. Who else are you letting go?
  3. Am I eligible for rehire?
  4. What will you tell a potential employer if they call to check my references?
  5. Will you approve my claim when I file for unemployment?
  6. What will be the last day you will pay me?
  7. What will my termination date be?
  8. If the termination date isn’t today, what happens if I quit before my end date?
  9. Will you still consider me employed while I receive severance pay?
  10. What rights are you asking me to give up if I accept your severance pay?
  11. Will you waive my non-compete agreement since you are laying me off?
  12. What will you tell people if they call to verify my employment? Will you tell them that I am still employed, or terminated?
  13. How will you pay out my unused vacation time or sick time?
  14. How will you pay out my commissions and/or bonuses already earned?
  15. What will happen with my employee benefits? (Health insurance, life, etc.)
  16. What are my options for my retirement plans (pension, 401K, etc.)? (Do NOT cash them out until you do your research or talk to a financial professional! There may be significant tax implications and penalties for early withdrawal. Most people roll their retirement funds over to a new platform … but never do it without professional guidance).
  17. What are my options with my stock (if you own any company stock)?
  18. Will I receive any severance? If so, how much?
  19. Will you provide me with outplacement services? If so, may I spend that money anywhere I want? How do I get access to the outplacement dollars?
  20. Will I be eligible for severance at the same time as my unemployment insurance?
  21. What will happen to my severance if I accept another job internally?
  22. What will happen to my severance if I am offered another job internally and I do not accept it?
  23. Tuition reimbursement (if you have used some): How will you handle my tuition reimbursement?
  24. Relocation assistance: How will you handle my relocation assistance?

Pro tip: Ask HR for copies of all your employment records. One day soon, you will want to have copies of your start date, end date, employment contracts, salary history, performance reviews, awards, etc. You’ll need a lot of these details for your job search and it will be REALLY hard to remember the details, or to ask for these things, once you have left for good. Annual reviews are particularly valuable for project details, successes, and achievements.

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