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Impending Merger? Here’s How to Protect Your Career

Few events are as stressful to your career as news of an impending company merger or acquisition. The best strategy is to plan and prepare for what lies ahead. Pick up as much reliable information from initial rumors, then formulate your strategy and act quickly.

Recent studies have shown that job loss and uncertainty are people’s greatest concerns in the face of corporate reorganization.

  • Forty percent of more than 900 respondents to one survey said it took three months or more before they understood how a merger or acquisition would affect them in terms of departmental realignments, new responsibilities, layoffs and other changes.
  • Thirty-six percent said mergers or acquisitions made their jobs more difficult.

Be proactive and be prepared so you can minimize the shock to your career and lifestyle.

What to Expect

Recognize that change will most certainly occur and that several different scenarios could arise.

  • There are usually redundancies when companies combine. The acquiring company has to reduce the number of employees performing similar jobs. While you may not be targeted for a cut, it is still best to take a realistic look at your finances and your individual situation.
  • Those with the most knowledge and in-demand skills will remain. You may be one of the team members needed for a new role within the emergent corporate structure. This could lead to opportunity, an expansion of your responsibilities or a promotion.
  • Maybe it is time to move on. A new culture, a new boss, new policies and new team members. In the face of all this change, you may conclude you simply are no longer a good fit. This is the time to begin the process of moving forward and pursuing a new job.

Have a Plan

Change sometimes comes within weeks or it may take much longer, depending on the circumstances. If an organization has been struggling financially, the acquiring company generally comes in quickly and cleans house. If two healthy companies merge, integration may take longer.

  • Research the reasons behind the change and how it is being financed. A company being taken over for a particular product, for instance, requires a different strategic plan than when a private-equity fund takes over. Acquisitions or takeovers are often about making the organization leaner. Everyone is at risk because it all comes down to efficiency. In this case, you need to shore up your value and prove yourself indispensable.
  • Get frank feedback and guidance. Talk to your boss or HR department. Try to determine whether you will have a role within the new organization. Articulate your desire to stay, if this is the case.
  • Focus on doing your job well. Be visible. Attend every informational meeting the new owners hold. Get managers’ cards so you can follow up with a message of “It was nice meeting you.” Slip in some information about yourself and what you can do to help make the combined company great. Be professional, not arrogant. It is a fine line you walk.
  • Strengthen yourself in areas you think the new company will prioritize. If your original employer was acquired for a proprietary technology, highlight your role in that part of the business. Align with leaders who can advocate for you.
  • Participate and cooperate. It is not uncommon for an integration committee to request interviews with existing employees. The worst response is to resist or state that “this is not how we do things around here.” Come to terms with the fact that it is not the same anymore. Demonstrate how you can make it the best place for your career – or move on and begin your job search process.

If you need guidance in steering your career through a merger – or you have already determined that your next step is a move to a new firm – consider a partnership with an executive recruiter from BrainWorks. We will assist you in preparing for your next step with 100 percent confidentiality. Read our related posts or contact us today so we can arrange an informational meeting.

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