09/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Buyout...Just Another Word Meaning "Take This Money and Don't Sue Us!"

Readers always ask me, "When should I take a buy-out?" or, "When is a buy-out worth it?"

Before I answer their questions, I always need to know the following factors: How old are they? How long have they worked at the employer offering the buy-out? What are they planning to do afterwards, work-wise (this question is relevant to your age)? Retire? Or, as I am notorious for saying, "Expire!"

If they plan to continue working, what other jobs are available to them where they are currently living?

My advice today is relevant specifically to the deep recession that we are currently experiencing. In spite of the unemployment rate leveling off, new jobs are not yet being created, and most economists tell me that will not happen until the end of the second quarter of 2010. So, that's eight more months of very few new jobs, and certainly a risky time to consider giving up a job you already have, no matter what your next career change dream may be.

To me, the words "buyout" and "package" are white-collar sleight of hand. Translated in layman's terms, they simply mean, "You are fired. Take some dough from us if you sign this 'legal release,' so you won't sue us." It's is a dirty trick of smoke and mirrors. Evil.

A buy-out is almost never a good thing unless you're about to retire, have a "sure thing" on the back burner, or you're going to be fired anyway within the next year, if you don't voluntarily leave now.

Let's not forget that the buy-out is often just a disguise for the big "push" or "force-out". You need to do your best to weigh out if you have any other real options. Sometimes the choice of being bought out is really no choice at all. Right?

Do you personally know anyone that took the famous "package" or "buy-out" and got a equal or better paying job? I don't.

Oh, they land jobs alright, but not at the same salary or position they were in.

If you can hold on to your job and not be forced out, it is always better, especially during a downturn, to keep the job you have. It is very doubtful that there are that many equal-paying jobs for you, just waiting around the corner.

Once again, your age is a big factor, as is money in the bank as well as where you live.

I will tell you one thing that is even more important than the "money" from a buy-out, which are the medical benefits. Negotiate with your employer to pay for the cost of continuing your coverage for as long as possible. Do you know what contributing to COBRA costs today?

Dangling cash in front of anyone to make a decision is a no-brainer. It's why prostitution is called the "oldest profession in the world." Bosses know that money talks and influences people to make decisions they might not ordinarily make.

If the offer comes, take your time and speak to people whose opinion matters to you. Then, ask if there is any room to negotiate or if there are any other options. And by all means, let me know what you think.

You're always welcome to write me with your career dilemmas, and I'll answer you on this column.

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Disclaimer: The scenarios and events portrayed in this article are products of the author's imagination.

© Stephen Viscusi. All rights reserved. Article can be duplicated in part of full without author's permission.

Stephen Viscusi is the author of two books about jobs and the workplace. Charles Gibson from ABC's World News calls Viscusi, "America's Workplace Guru".

Viscusi is a TV broadcast journalist on jobs, a headhunter and resume spin doctor. His latest book, Bulletproof Your Job: 4 Simple Strategies to Ride Out the Rough Times and Come Out On Top at Work (HarperCollins) has been published around the globe in at least 9 languages including Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese.

Viscusi is also the founder of

Viscusi's headhunting and workplace advice is usually considered counter-intuitive to the conventional wisdom. Viscusi is not a career or life coach. To the contrary, his current book, Bulletproof Your Job has been described as the New Millennium's The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, and that's how Viscusi sees the workplace. He's your workplace General.

Each week, Stephen Viscusi volunteers his headhunting career advice to the world.

His disciples can be celebrities, politico, world leaders, heads of industry, and some are just ordinary people who write him for advice. It's like Tony Robbins advising Al Gore or Deepak Chopra advising Michael Jackson (wait, scratch that one).

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