Merger or acquisition pending? Questions to ask yourself

If your company agrees to be acquired, you’ll find yourself at a career crossroads. 

Since you never know in advance when an acquisition could be in the works, ask yourself now:

  • Is your résumé up to date?
  • Do you have the most current contact information for the people in your network?
  • Who is willing to give you a good reference?
  • What’s the next logical step in your career development?
  • What training can prepare you for a positive change?
  • What assignments can you request to stretch your experience and portfolio?

You’ll never see it coming

M&A - mergers and acquisitions
Be prepared for your company to be acquired, even if it’s a Fortune 500 company.

Twice in my career I lost my job through acquisitions. I didn’t see them coming, either time. Both times, another company acquired my employer and eliminated my position. 

That said, either of those times, I could have chosen to stay with the acquirer. But it would have been in a different role with a different team in a different culture. 

When a company offers you a severance package, it’s a blessing. It means you can take some time to look around for a new gig. 

Thanks to the certainty of a severance package, I landed my first job as a vice president … a goal I’d set when I was 26 years old, achieved 17 years later. 

In the other acquisition, the acquirer eliminated my job and gave a few weeks’ notice. In my final weeks, they gave me a special assignment, which I did so well they asked, “Do you want to stay?”

But by that time I had met the new CEO. He was a jerk, a nightmare — arrogant, bossy and mean. He verbally abused one of my best managers in front of other people. 

It was easy to decide to walk away from that company. 

When your employer is going through a pending merger or acquisition, both the acquired company and the acquirer are making lists. 

One list is who they want to keep. The other list is who they want to eliminate. 

lists of pros and cons
Both the acquiring company and the acquired make lists of who to keep, who to exit.

In between the acquisition announcement and the deal closing, your behavior tells the bosses in both companies which list you want to be on. If you genuinely want to stay on after the acquisition, just before the deal closes is not the time to rock the boat.

Often the cultures of two companies are so different that you get caught up in a culture clash. 

To be clear: You’re choosing not only whether to keep a job … you’re also choosing what kind of team you want to play for.

  • Is the culture entrepreneurial?
  • Is it a culture of “star” employees?
  • Or is it a command and control culture, a top-down hierarchy?

You’ll face three choices:

  • Do you want to go? 
  • Do you plan to stay? 
  • Or do you want to start your own company? 

After more than three decades as a marketer and corporate communicator, 10 years ago I decided to start up my own company. 

Five years ago Ariana Nikitas joined my business as a partner. Now we’ve worked together in three companies — Ameritech, Tellabs and Crystal Clear Communications. 

Starting my own company was the right decision for me. If you find yourself making a career choice during a merger or acquisition, be sure to consider all your options. 

Join the team that will make you happy. That’s what matters most.