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The (tech) company I work for has been acquired by a bigger tech company and we will soon be in the merger process (ie. putting their name on the building, changing colors, imposing their will, etc). I've gone through another merger before, but I was in the "bigger company" then and the "smaller company" had services that were not offered in the larger company. This time around, I work in the "smaller company" and my department does the same things, but at a much smaller scale than the "larger company". In other words, my department is redundant and will possibly face the chopping block at some point. I really like what I do, but I'm just not sure if I will be able to do it in the larger company.

The silver lining is that there should be a transition period where the services and customers migrate over to the larger company's services. On the low side, that's a minimum of 6 months - 1 year time to find a place within the company or find another gig. I assume I will be retained for this period of time. This may sound arrogant, but the demand for software engineers is still very high, so I'm not "really" stressed about finding another job. Here are some rough actions I'm looking to take:

  • Update my resume
  • Put my resume out onto the various job sites in case I get sacked
  • Interview intriguing external companies if and when they present themselves
  • Once internal positions open up, apply to those, and hope for the best

To put into perspective, the merger would be comparable to the following:

  • FitBit => Google
  • Pebble => Fitbit
  • Github => Microsoft
  • Postmates => Uber

There are obvious places where services overlap.

To anyone that has experience with this kind of scenario:

  • What advice can you offer?
  • What should I do?
  • Is there something you wished you did?

TL;DR

My company is getting bought, department is redundant, fear I will my lose job if I don't find a position within new company. I really like what I do and I'm hoping to find similar position within the newly formed company. What are some tips, advice, things to avoid, questions to ask? For those reading this past Aug. 27th, 2020, there is a global pandemic (Covid 19) and most places are enacting a hiring freeze.

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  • So, the truth is that you suspect that your department is redundant, not that it is actually redundant (just a strong suspicion you have). Is that so?
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 30 '20 at 5:45
  • Mind including your country and state (if it applies)? Are you under some sort of contract or at-will? How long have you been at that company?
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 30 '20 at 5:46
  • @DarkCygnus It's not a suspicion per se. The larger company has traditionally been a competitor that we have tried to emulate, ie. copy. From clients that use them, I have an idea of what they offer and how they deliver their services. I'm in the US, in an at-will state, and have been with the company only 3 years. Sep 30 '20 at 6:10
  • If your department and therefore job will cease to exist, would you be eligible for a redundancy payout?
    – fubar
    Oct 1 '20 at 3:11
  • Have you spoken with your boss about this? It seems like your incentives are aligned, here.
    – nick012000
    Oct 4 '20 at 23:32
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I would probably depart relatively soon, whether internally or not.

I recently left an organization for somewhat similar reasons. I worked for the government in parking technology (which may or may not be important long term) for a government that cannot legally run a deficit and is facing a massive shortfall. A bunch of other very senior people also quit before I did, which was a sign to me that problems were starting.

Here is my argument for leaving:

  • The job market is good right now. There are plenty of companies which have permanent jobs available. Granted, I am in Canada and I am not sure where you are, but maybe 1/3 of my network has moved jobs in the past few months and mostly for large raises. It may not be so good in a year.
  • This situation makes your job effectively temporary with a chance of renewal. A good chance, but that risk is still there.
  • Your job risk has dramatically increased, but your compensation (probably) has not. In terms of risk adjusted return, that is a salary cut.
  • You have been there 3 years. You might be able to get a big raise by leaving (I did).
  • I wouldn't want to stay working on a project being wound down simply because few value that kind of work.

I would intend to move either internally or externally within the next three months unless there were a strong reason not to leave (stock options, great manager, etc).

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  • Agree completely - great answer - leave immediately. Wishful thinking just wastes time. The market could not be hotter, so move on. It's part of the hurly-burly of being in software. You have to take the good (incredibly high number of jobs, incredibly high pay) with the bad (products come and go).
    – Fattie
    Sep 30 '20 at 14:01
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If I were in your position and felt otherwise happy in my current role, I would take a hard look at the available opportunities within the new organisation and consider where else I could apply my skills if my department were to close. For example, you might have some particular knowledge of a certain part of the business or domain that would make you a valuable asset post-takeover. Is there, then, some other department of the company in which you could find a role?

For example, you say you are a software engineer. But a software engineer at a company must understand the business. e.g. if you write software for CNC machines, you must have some knowledge about manufacturing processes, materials science, etc. or else you wouldn't be able to understand the system.

Of course, this is all assuming your current department is definitely going to be made redundant. From your post, this is not 100% certain.

Sure, if you feel the changes to the organization would make you unhappy, by all means look elsewhere. It is not true that no-one is hiring; one long-time colleague very recently left us for new pastures. So update your resume if you want to leave the company.

If I were in your position, I personally would try and keep my current role. But that is because I am not so happy with change (just a personal thing).

I've not been in exactly the same position as you but I am sure that what I would have wished to have done was to be exactly sure that my current job was doomed before leaving a job I was otherwise content with.

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  • I'm sure I could shift around in current dept and I'm mostly sure that I will be retained to transition services and customers. Solid advise not to jump ship before knowing the fate of my position. Sep 30 '20 at 6:17
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Let's assume that your department will not exist in half a year or a year. There are three things that can happen: You will work in a different department, you will be employed by a different company, or you will be unemployed.

You should have a parallel strategy: Check for jobs elsewhere, and check for jobs in different departments of your company. Find out what strategy the bigger company will have: Do they want to keep employees or get rid of them?

Depending on your location, you should check out what redundancy pay you can expect, and make sure that you don't do anything to miss out on that. (At one place where I worked, lots of people got laid off with five digit redundancy pay, but one guy who found a new job and left a week before the layoffs did get nothing).

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