avatarAlexander Nguyen


Nobody talks about our teammate that left Google.


I joined Google back in 2022 during the pandemic. I was one of the newest hires until 2 months later we had a new member join the team we’ll call Hannah.

Hannah was an excited new graduate ready to start her software engineer career at one of the biggest tech companies in the world. But before we dig into what happened to Hannah, we’ll first talk about what usually happens to software engineers who leave the team.

Reason #1: They got PIP’d.

PIP stands for “performance improvement plan” and happens to anyone who receives a poor performance rating for 2 consecutive quarters at Google. At worse only 5% of low performers receive this rating. Then when someone is on this plan, they get the option of receiving severance or to attempt to pass a performance improvement plan.

Those who attempt the plan have a quarter to make it or break it in their role. If things don’t work out, they’re forced to leave the company.

Is PIP common at Google?

No, it’s not. Managers are not incentivized to layoff their employees. At Google, poor performance needs to be agreed upon by multiple stakeholders which usually include a sister manager and a skip manager to agree on.

Laying someone off also means slowing the team down because they have to find another teammate to onboard and fill in the gap.

This also doesn’t mention that employees can actually SUE a company for unjust PIP. If it was common practice to layoff anyone, someone would eventually notice this unfair practice and raise awareness.

Reason #2: They resigned.

Usually people have to put in a 2 week’s notice as a kindness to their team that they’re leaving for another company.

During those 2 weeks, the Google employee will document all of their work and hand off to whoever will pick it up after they leave. They’ll get paid for any leftover unused vacation time.

But if the employee leaves before a year, they’ll owe back their signing bonus, relocation bonus, and forfeit their annual performance bonus as well as upcoming stock vest. This can be as much as $50,000 or more.

  • $25,000 Sign-on bonus
  • $15,000 Performance bonus
  • $20,000 Relocation bonus
  • $10,000 Monthly equity

All that money is referred to as “Golden Handcuffs” where employees don’t leave the company because of how much money is on the table. But Hannah left the team in as little as 5 months.

What happened to Hannah?

When Hannah left the team, a month or two went by before anyone noticed. There wasn’t an email that announced her departure or anything that explained why she left.

She was just gone.

Hannah was someone who didn’t turn her camera on during voice calls and hardly sent messages in team chats. She worked from home and didn’t get to know anyone on her team or in the office.

In as little as 5 months, Hannah found a new team within Google and moved over there without a trace. Teams at Google don’t acknowledge anyone leaving within 1 year to anyone else on the team.

Does she still keep her compensation benefits?

Hannah keeps everything Google offered her when she joined, even if it’s not with her original team. It’s common for a lot of new hires to join a team for the sake of joining Google and then jump ship to another team they’re actually interested in.

Anyone can do this at Google at anytime. But the ones who do this most are the ones who are least connected with their teammates.

Before You Leave

  1. My Google Interviewing Resources
  2. Byte-sized system design newsletter!
  3. If you enjoyed this experience consider being a member for more content like this!

If you enjoyed this article, consider trying out the AI service I recommend. It provides the same performance and functions to ChatGPT Plus(GPT-4) but more cost-effective, at just $6/month (Special offer for $1/month). Click here to try ZAI.chat.

Software Development
Software Engineer
Recommended from ReadMedium