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I work for a small-ish company that to me seemed content with the market niche it covered, and I was unsatisfied with a lack of opportunities to learn new things and what seemed to me management's unresponsiveness to feedback, so I interviewed elsewhere.

I am close to negotiating the details with one possibly new employer (and have yet to hear back from another one) but now it was announced that my current employer has just been taken over by a larger company, whose products complement our products in interesting ways and which might open up interesting new opportunities. Details are still not clear (and range from "old company will stay independent subsidiary of new company" to "here's a few-weeks plan for complete team integration"; old company is in the EU, new one in the US, if that matters).

I am thus torn between a job offer that is interesting but in a quite different market and the yet uncertain option of new challenges in my current job in a market I know and like. How should I best approach this? When I talk about the opportunities of the acquisition with my current/new employer, should I hint that I was half out of the door already? [Edit] In other words, can I tactfully break it to the current employer that I long for a different role in the new company so much I actually made sure have a different offer in hand? [/edit]

When talking with the prospective new employer, should I ask for taking it slowly? (I do not think I can stall for weeks anyway, and bringing up the acquisition might make them assume that my reasons for looking for a new job, which they asked for in the interview, no longer apply.)

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  • Would it be an option to sit out the takeover and delay the interviews with the new company in order for you to find out what the takeover exactly means for you in terms of opportunites to learn new things?
    – iLuvLogix
    Mar 5 '21 at 13:23
  • Will the change in organization fix your issues? Consider it a 50/50. (in my similar experience it was a PITA, but that's n=1). If you found one or more jobs to your liking, I'd say proceed with the process at normal speed and don't worry about it too much. Often there are a lot of personnel changes in such a situation anyway, you're ahead of the game now, AND you have a great new reason you can give people if you want to avoid saying you were dissatisfied before.
    – Pete W
    Mar 5 '21 at 15:25
  • I am not too worried about new company closing down the acquired company's site. They have a track record of not doing that. The synergies of the acquisition really come from giving the customers a combined version of their and our products, not from delivering any existing product with less effort. Interestingly, new company was on our radar as "potential competitor if they expanded their business into our direction" and I might even have looked at them as potential next employer had they been on the same continent. Mar 6 '21 at 2:55
  • I have trouble understanding the close votes. "How to navigate the line between an outside job offer and unexpected new opportunities at current employer" does not seem too specific a choice to me, and it had 4 (very helpful!) answers with >25 upvotes between them already by the time it was closed, so it seems there were many who found it reasonable as well. I added a sentence to hopefully clarify the main question. Mar 25 '21 at 6:48
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How should I best approach this?

No one here can tell you what to do, but I will say that once you start looking for another job, typically you are mentally done with a company.

In your situation as the company is being acquired, it could go either way as far as your concerned -- so it is up to you as to whether to hang on and see how it plays out. Weigh the pros and cons and make the best move for you.

When I talk about the opportunities of the acquisition with my current/new employer, should I hint that I was half out of the door already?

Absolutely not. Your current employer does not need to know you are looking. If you speak to this, it will come across as a threat most likely and with the changes going on at your company, this is not the time for that.

And finally I will say that if you do decide to move one, which I think you will, do not say anything to you current employer until you have a offer in hand. Also be sure to give adequate notice as to not burn any bridges.

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    "once you start looking for another job, typically you are mentally done with a company" I second that - quite a few do that every couple of years just to find out their market value or chances of possible promotions. Otherwise I fully agree with your answer..
    – iLuvLogix
    Mar 5 '21 at 13:28
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How should I best approach this?

I've been part of takeovers many times. Usually I worked for the company that was acquired. Occasionally, I worked for the acquiring company.

I can tell you from personal experience that being acquired typically changes everything.

In my experience, you'll basically be working for a different company - one that you don't really know and didn't apply for. It might be better, it might be worse, but it will be different.

Typically, the changes take time. But eventually, the acquiring company will change things to fit into their corporate culture and abandon the culture of the acquired company. Usually some new opportunities open up. Often, overlapping functions are trimmed. Sometimes the acquired location is disbanded. Sometimes folks in the acquired company are given a bonus to stick around for a while. Sometimes when an acquired location is being closed, folks are given a decent severance package.

You need to decide if you want to stick around and see where this goes, or if you are better off getting out now. That's a decision only you can make. But if you are confident in your abilities, the fact that you found a possible new employer likely means that you could find another later on, if that were necessary.

When I talk about the opportunities of the acquisition with my current/new employer, should I hint that I was half out of the door already?

No! Keep it to yourself. No good can come of that. You want to keep all of your options open at this point, and hinting about leaving will likely close off all but one.

And don't expect any sort of clear path forward in your discussions with your current/new employer. They will likely be able to only discuss generalities. You'll almost certainly need to wait to see what eventually develops.

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IMHO, just move on.

This new situation is going to evolve in one of three ways.

  1. You continue what you are currently doing with little change;
  2. You help train employees in the US company so that they can completely take over what you do. At some point in the future your site will be shut down;
  3. Some integration work is done between the two products. Maybe you are involved, maybe not.

You've already checked out of your existing company and this new situation has more probability of ending badly for you than ending well.

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I've been in a similar situation. My job was moving to a new office. I had been tossing around the idea of leaving already. I decided to stay at least for a bit and see what it was like. My thought process was that moving to a new office is a lot like getting a new job so it's like I'm getting a new job anyways. Might as well see what the "new job" is like before I decide to move.

You can always wait a few months and leave later, but you can't easily come back.

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