Cheat sheet: These are the things you should never do when you leave a company

“Yeah, I’m going to stop you right there,” was the response former Cloudflare account executive Brittany Pietsch gave to two of the company’s HR executives during a call where it swiftly became clear that she was being fired from her job of three-and-a-half months.

The interruption was prompted by one of the executives saying that, “We finished our evaluations of 2023 performance and this is where you’ve not met Cloudflare expectations for performance and we’ve decided to part ways with you.”

While she had never met either of the people she was on the call with, Pietsch clearly had an inkling that something was up, as she famously recorded the 9.15 minute video and uploaded it to her TikTok account at @brittanypeachhh. The clip swiftly went viral and racked up hundreds of thousands of views, reactions and comments.

Pietsch used the time she had on the call with HR to defend her position and point out a few things she felt were unfair with regards to her performance.

“So, I started August 25, I’ve been on a three-month ramp and then it was three weeks of December, and then a week of Christmas and then here we are. I have had the highest activity amongst my team,” she pointed out.

Brittany Pietsch

Brittany Pietsch filmed herself being let go from Cloudflare, and uploaded the conversation to TikTok, where it swiftly went viral

“Every single one-on-one I’ve had with my manager, every conversation I’ve had with him, he’s been giving me nothing but that I am doing a great job, I have had great activity, I have really great meetings, I’m picking up the products very quickly, and things have been going really really well, I make really great relationships with my clients, so I disagree that my performance hasn’t been — I haven’t met performance expectations, when I certainly have, just because I haven’t closed anything officially.”

Unsurprisingly, her rebuttal and the way she handled her termination was polarising. Where some felt that her approach was underhand and would ultimately go against her, others had praise for the way she managed herself and used her communication skills to explain and defend her position.

Other commenters pointed out that by exposing the company, she showed herself to be untrustworthy to new employers. Ultimately, Pietsch’s video was so divisive because it offered a very rare glimpse behind the scenes of a dismissal process. 

Many of us worry about the stigma of being let go. It is something that lots of people can feel a real sense of shame about, and in her position would have taken the medicine––and said very little for fear of being judged.

Pietsch’s openness in this regard is likely to be symptomatic of her age. At 27, she is part of the Gen Z cohort, which differs from previous generations when it comes to what they expect from work.

But this is just one way you might not want to say “sayonara” to your employer. There are plenty of other things that aren’t too advisable to do, either. Whether you’ve left a company of your own volition or have been shown the door, it’s probably best if you avoid the following actions.

Bad-mouthing your boss or colleagues

Most of us will have worked in an environment where we didn’t have the greatest experience. Whether that was from a micromanaging boss or a workplace culture of bullying, getting out can be cathartic. But instead of venting on social media, leave it in the drafts. If you really need to rant, keep it offline and contained to friends and family.

getting fired from work

Yes, you may feel completely justified in publically bad-mouthing a bad boss, but consider how others may view your comments. Negative remarks can tarnish your professional reputation and close doors for future opportunities. Oh, and you might get sued.

NDA no-nos

It’s probably for the best that you don’t violate any non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) you may have signed. Even if you don’t work there anymore, revealing sensitive information can lead to legal consequences. No one wants that.

Leaving things in chaos

Industries are small, ultimately, and you’re quite likely to bump into the same people as you go through your career. Being careless in your final weeks with your tasks and responsibilities can blowback onto your colleagues, resulting in bad feelings.

Don’t neglect your handover, either. Sure, if you’ve been let go, you may not feel like it, but documenting your responsibilities will make your team’s life easier. And you just never know––one of them could hire you one day.

Stealing or damaging company property

Tempting as it may be to “forget” to return your laptop or phone, just don’t do it.

And definitely don’t sew prawns into the CEO’s office curtains.

Fall out with people

No one wants to leave a company under a cloud, but keep an eye on your future. You’re going anyway, so you may as well tell Cathy in accounts that you can’t stand her, right? Wrong. Use this time to build professional connections with former colleagues and supervisors and aim to leave on the most positive note you can. 

You simply can’t discount the power of personal connections, and planting these seeds now could be a means to help your career flourish into the future. 

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Author Kirstie McDermott

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