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How to Survive an Acquisition

Updated on January 4, 2017
Max Dalton profile image

Max holds a BS in Mass Communications from SIU and an MA in Communication from U of I, and is pursuing an MBA from Webster University.

Introduction

Working for a company that was recently acquired can be intensely stressful as a result of the enormous amount of uncertainty that hits you out of nowhere. Whereas before you may have felt very secure about your job and felt like you had a career path identified with that particular employer, that all becomes a big question mark after an acquisition. While you may feel powerless after initially getting word of being acquired, this article outlines some things you can do to shift the odds of surviving the acquisition or improving your situation in your favor.

Believing everything you hear through the rumor mill can create a lot of unnecessary panic.
Believing everything you hear through the rumor mill can create a lot of unnecessary panic. | Source

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

Almost immediately after an acquisition, the rumor mill will start running in full force. While you don't want to completely ignore what people are saying, it's important to take it with a grain of salt, because the truth in an acquisition is that there are very few people who know what is actually going to happen. Yes, there is probably some truth to some of the rumors you hear, but the reality is that the small group of people who are ultimately going to make the decisions are likely putting all of the options on the table and discussing them to ensure they make the best decision for the company. As a result, it's not worth panicking if you hear that leadership is looking at eliminating or reducing head count in your department, because they are likely looking at the same option for every other department.

Acquiring Company History

The best way to get a glimpse into changes that could actually be coming down the pipeline is to look at the history of the acquiring company and see what they've done with other companies they've acquired. If the acquiring company doesn't have a history of other acquisitions to refer to, find another comparable acquisition and dig into the outcome of that for a frame of reference around what could happen. If the company does have a healthy history of acquisitions, you'll likely start noticing trends. For example, the acquiring company may have a history of forcing corporate employees to relocate to a specific geographic area, laying everyone else off and just keeping a few senior people, or letting the acquired companies continue to operate largely business as usual.

FierceCable is a trusted source of industry news for people who work in the cable and broadcasting industry.
FierceCable is a trusted source of industry news for people who work in the cable and broadcasting industry. | Source

Follow Industry News

Another source of reliable information around changes that actually may be coming are trade publications associated with your industry. Reporters at these publications are constantly working sources with deep connections to the decision makers at acquiring organizations, and they will be hesitant to report about anything they aren't confident in. Additionally, dig up interviews with other major news sites the decision makers at the top of the acquiring company. The interviewers will also be looking for insight into plans the acquiring company has, and while the answers may be vague, they will be coming straight from the top. Also, if either your company or the acquiring company is publicly traded, listen to their quarterly earnings calls and read through the analyses that get generated by industry analysts. Investors will want to understand the direction of the new company almost as bad as current employees.

Don't Stop Doing Your Job

Even though it can feel like your world has been flipped upside down, you have to keep marching forward and doing your job as an effort to illustrate your value to the company. While this won't guarantee that you don't get laid off, this will reduce that your name gets put in the pile of expendable employees. Additionally, this will make it easy for your boss to stand up for your in the event your name does come up as someone who could be cut. This is important, as your boss will be busy fighting for her own job, and won't have a lot of time to spend making a case around why the company should keep you.

Reach out to your network of recruiters and ask that they keep an eye out for any opportunities that look like they would be a good match for your skill set.
Reach out to your network of recruiters and ask that they keep an eye out for any opportunities that look like they would be a good match for your skill set. | Source

Put Out Feelers

A good way to put your mind at ease is to put together an outline of what you would consider the perfect job opportunity, and then keep an eye on job postings to see if you can find it. Set up alerts at your favorite jobs sites so that you'll be notified as soon as jobs meeting those criteria become available. Additionally, reach out to recruiters you have a good relationship with and tell them to keep you in mind for any opportunities they come across that look like they may be a good match for your skill set.

How to Survive if Your Company is Taken Over

Move to a Safer Department

You may find that some departments at your company will be safer than others. Keep your eyes open for any job openings in those departments that look like a good match for your skill set. Additionally, if you have any friends in those departments, ask if they can keep their ear to the ground for you and maybe put in a good word for you if they feel like something looks like a good fit.

© 2017 Max Dalton

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