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Right Way To Quit After PIP

You got the PIP, and you made the difficult (or maybe not-so-difficult) decision to quit. You’ll soon be off to greener pastures, but there is a strategy around leaving the company that is critical to get right.

Once you've decided to leave your company, your priority should shift to optimizing your professional and financial prospects. Most companies will provide a severance package to employees who are laid off or terminated. A severance package is the compensation that an employee receives when they leave a company.

While companies may care (at least a tiny bit) about the well-being of their employees, generosity is not the primary reason that businesses provide severance. In exchange for severance, companies will require you to sign certain documents to protect the business:

  • Non-disparagement so you agree not to speak poorly about the company in public. The company protects their business interests by maintaining relationships and reputation.
  • Invention assignment so there is no theft of intellectual property (IP) or source code.
  • Other agreements such as not suing the company or not poaching employees for a set amount of time.

The Human Resources (HR) team will want your agreement on these terms, which means you have leverage. The asks from these companies are not too onerous, which means it doesn't cost much to agree -- very few employees end up suing their former employer anyway.

Severance checklist

Here is the "severance checklist", the most common dimensions on which you can negotiate:

  • Salary

  • Health insurance (COBRA payments)

  • Last day of employment

  • Equity vesting acceleration

  • Outplacement services

Remember, you only get what you ask for. Since you're on your way out anyway, it's fine to get rejected when asking for more. If you express your concern and headache from the termination ("I just moved my family here from out of state"), companies are often willing to meet you halfway for things like:

  • Your last day of employment
  • Extending and paying for health insurance for several additional months
  • Accelerating the next vesting date by a few weeks

Finally, we present a "goodbye checklist":

  • Contact info for relevant colleagues

  • How will this be communicated to the team?

  • What will your employer disclose to a future employer?

  • What’s the “cooldown period”?

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