Given the high volume of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the technology sector, it’s not surprising that many tech pros are experiencing stress, uncertainty and job insecurity at work.
“That’s because an M&A transaction creates redundancies and the loss of about one in eight jobs, or 12 percent of the workforce,” said Scott Moeller, professor and director of the M&A Research Centre at Cass Business School in London.
Data collected by Dealogic confirms the churn. Through June of this year, global technology had logged over $260 billion in deals. This is the second year in a row that tech has been the most active sector, after logging $714.1 billion in M&A deals in 2015.
If you’re working for a company that’s thinking about merging or being acquired, here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of surviving (and perhaps even thriving) after a restructuring.
Get Out in Front
Be on the lookout for telltale signs that a merger or acquisition may be on the horizon. Having a heads-up gives you the opportunity to not only research your new bosses, but reach out and familiarize them with your work. Positioning yourself as a valuable contributor who is capable of adapting to the new, dominant culture improves your chances of keeping your job.
For better or worse, politics often determines who will be retained, so this is definitely not a time to be shy or complacent.
“Don’t get too comfortable,” warned Debra Stitt, a career coach, recruiter and president of Quality Source Inc. For instance, if a venture capital firm steps in, they will often eliminate staff and ask the remaining professionals to do the work of two people, Stitt explained: “You may need to step it up, if you want to be retained.”
Keep Your Ear to the Ground
In a perfect world, your boss would be your chief source of information, and you should definitely ask them about your future. But he or she may be sworn to secrecy (or out of the loop) about jobs on the chopping block.
Oftentimes, the people much further down the line or outside the organization know which products or divisions may be divested and who’s at risk for losing their jobs. For this reason, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your network, including external consultants, suppliers, clients and headhunters.
“Managers often share the names of workers who will be losing their jobs with recruiters in the hopes that we will contact them,” Stitt said. “If a recruiter calls during the transition period, it’s in your best interest to speak with them.”
Get on the Winning Team
Possessing valuable institutional knowledge or being part of a development team that works on a flagship product increases your chances of being retained or even promoted, especially when the acquiring company is looking to expand market access or add complementary technologies to grow into a full-service provider.
If you don’t have the skills or experience to transition to a high-profile team, improve your visibility by volunteering to serve on an integration team or committee.
“Most of the time, the integration teams are the first to know about the reorganization plans for the newly-combined companies,” Moeller said. “You’ll not only have an opportunity to meet your new colleagues and showcase your abilities, you may have a prime opportunity to lobby for another role in the newly-formed division.”
Create an Exit Strategy
Even if you manage to keep your job for a while, your chances of being let go increase once the post-integration transition takes place, especially if you’re at a senior level in the acquired company.
That’s why it’s a good idea to update your résumé and put out feelers to see if another company might be interested in speaking with you. Mergers and acquisitions usually take several months to complete; if you launch a confidential search right away, you may not miss a paycheck.
“If you had been thinking about leaving, this may be an opportune time to negotiate a separation package,” Moeller advised. “If you wait until after the merger, you may lose your negotiating power.”