32

My situation is that my current company is being acquired by another competing company. This acquisition won't be official for a few months, and from company brass it's 'business as usual' until then.

I am trying to weigh my next move, as the new company will undoubtedly have drastically different plans for the product I am working on, the staff I work with, and numerous other decisions.

Is there any benefit to using a best foot forward approach to an acquisition if there are other viable, attractive job opportunities? By this I mean doing the best job that I can in hopes that I will be recognized as someone the new owner wants to retain.

  • 3
    Bad form as seen by whom? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Aug 13 '13 at 7:24
  • 11
    Mergers and acquisitions usually result in severe lay-offs, so it's always in your best interests to start looking for another place ASAP – Juha Untinen Aug 13 '13 at 8:00
  • 2
    @JuhaUntinen Possible, but that might depend on the position of the OP. If he could be considered vital for the continued development of the Product, there could be an oppurtunity for a promotion. Unless, of course, they decide to cancel the Product.... – Fredrik Aug 13 '13 at 8:26
  • I am stunned by the amount of horror stories I see here. I have been in an acquisition (a ~300 employee control systems company being acquired by 5.1b euro, 29,000 employee company). What changed? Apart from one Director from the bigger company as Operations Director? Nothing! – Felix Weir Aug 13 '13 at 14:55
  • 1
    @FelixWeir, as derek indicated in his answer, no two acquisitions go the same way. Each one is different, but I would say that a "positive" outcome from the point of view of employees is less likely than a negative one especially for large established companies. You were lucky-- or perhaps not enough time has passed? – Angelo Aug 13 '13 at 18:34
39

In my career, I've been through the acquisition process many times, mostly on the "acquired" end, but occasionally, on the "acquiring" end.

To be honest, most of the time being acquired hasn't ended well. Think of it this way - you joined your original company for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it was a startup, and you liked the idea of being involved in the formative stages of a company. Perhaps you wanted to work in a small shop. Perhaps your expertise was highly valued to help "get things going". Perhaps you wanted to work for a particular manager. Now, a new company comes in and takes over. Chances are high that many of the things you previously valued will change. At least some of those changes will not be in your favor - larger company, more established, less chance to make an impact, working for a different manager.

So often, lots of people in the acquired company leave. Some leave immediately, others later. Some leave on their own, others are let go.

Still, an acquisition can provide lots of new opportunities. The new, bigger company may have more chances for advancement. Often there is a big transition effort in which new leaders emerge - perhaps you. Sometimes the post-acquisition environment has bigger market opportunities, more chance for your product to meet the needs of new people. Sometimes you can get exposed to newer technologies. Often, there is a cash infusion that makes far more rapid growth possible. Many times larger companies offer superior benefits. Sometimes, just having the new company name on your resume has value when you eventually move on.

Many times there is a financial incentive to stay around for a while. If you have stock options in the acquired company they will typically be either purchased outright or transitioned to stock or options in the acquiring company. Sometimes you are offered a retention bonus to agree to stick around through the transition.

The upside of sticking around is that you have access to all these possibilities in the new company without having to apply for a new job. It's a new chance that is just waiting there for you and your colleagues, you are all in it together, and the acquiring company usually wants to make it work and will try hard to help.

The downside is that you don't really know what is in store for you and it's not a path you have actively chosen. It's going to happen for good or bad.

I believe that if there are viable attractive opportunities available for you now, similar opportunities will be available for you later, after you have had a chance to see where the acquisition is going. I almost always advise that you stick it out, at least for a while, and see if it is something you really want or not.

That said, immediately looking elsewhere isn't considered bad form at all. I have had several candidates tell me in interviews that their small company was being acquired, that they didn't like where it was going, and that was their motivation for wanting to leave. I understand that.

Good luck!

|improve this answer|||||
  • Will there be interviews held for the employees of the acquired company by the acquiring?? If it's possible will it be a typical interview or will it be more about your work in the current company? – Eswar Dec 5 '18 at 7:28
22

I've been through this a number of times. It can be bad as one commenter says, but it can also be positive. It's often in the interests of the company's purchaser that staff do not leave, so incentives can be offered (stock options, salary raises, bonuses). Usually these incentives would not be immediate, so you may need to hang round for some time to get them.

On the other hand if two companies merge they may want to cut some costs to produce a leaner result - business speak for reduce staff. This can be brutal and disruptive, not only for the ones who go but for everyone looking who's about to stab them in the back. I've found it pays to listen very carefully to what your bosses say (and watch for what they don't say) so you can judge what the likely outcome for you will be. Also, if you think from the company's perspectives. It's not a good look for them to lay people off, so they tend to do this only if they have to (assuming they care what the market thinks of their employment policy). If it's not going to go official for a few months then you might need to wait a while for any details what the company will do to make staff stay.

However you asked is it bad form to look elsewhere. Ive found that it's never bad form to do that. An employer might take offence if an employee looks around, but if an employer is that petty minded then they are probably not the best people to work for anyway. Another commenter suggested looking ASAP, and there is validity in that, if you are going to look, best to do so before the market gets flooded with your colleagues doing the same. I've always found it useful to keep up to date with other opportunities. Not so good to tell everyone you're doing that though.

Hope this helps. Though one final caveat is that there is no single answer. No two mergers or acquisitions go the same way.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 8
    One other useful thing to remember is that colleagues flooding the job market is an instant source of networking. Don't feel as though you're in a race to find a new job. – Telastyn Aug 13 '13 at 14:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.