On January 4th, 2017, CNN Money published “Macy’s is closing 68 stores, cutting 10,000 jobs.” Never a great headline to see four days in to the new year. But then the hits just kept on coming and more and more businesses announced major layoffs. In many cases those who had been with companies for decades were now faced with layoffs with no company immune to the layoff phenomenon. And no job is immune from the downsizing phenomenon either. That basically means, your career is in play, always!
Obviously, the impact of any corporate change is bigger than simply your job. Yet, at the end of the day, your job is all that matters to you… right? Your career? Yes… So many scenarios are possible…but here are the main two scenarios: Your job could be a job eliminated. You could remain employed, despite the layoff announcement. The company needs people to wind things down.
However, if you stay, your job is changed significantly. You have to then make the decision to adjust or begin a search for a position outside the company. If the company gives you financial incentive to stay, that can make the decision more challenging to stay or go.
Many think they are immune to these scenarios. Or that it won’t happen to them. That is an unwise position to take…to say the very least. And career suicide…at its peak.
Forbes, KPMG and Marketwatch all indicate that 2017 will be an interesting year with the US and UK government changes. Interesting is a good way to describe it. Do you still think it may not happen to you? Looking like you were taken off guard is not a good position for a leader to be in on their next job interview.
Here are eight moves to protect your career during a closure or merger successfully:
Assume you’re fired today.
Adopting this mindset forces you to be proactive. Make a to-do list of everything that’s necessary to begin a search for a position outside that company. What’s most important is learning how much the search process might have changed since you last looked.
Do your homework while the M&A is still on the drawing board.
Completing the deal takes time. It’s obvious which company’s values, strategies, methodologies and terminology will dominate. You can access that information and insight from media coverage, reading security analysts’ reports (if the company is public) and asking your contacts. Then plan accordingly.
Accept that the past is over.
The reality is this: The goodwill you established with superiors, the reputation you built and the promise of future rewards no longer exist. Don’t even mention those. Don’t complain. Doing that creates the perception that you are part of the “old order.”
Reconfigure what you do with what is now needed.
The new order is focused on accomplishing its goals, as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible. You have a shot at keeping employed if you can explain succinctly how your function aligns exactly with those priorities.
It’s only by being out there that you can make known your value to the new company. Reach out, beyond your own department or “silo.” Have an elevator speech ready. Suggest how you can be helpful. If rebuffed, don’t run for cover. Instead, identify entry points into the power structure. That could be joining them in the company gym at 6 A.M. or sharing your special expertise on the market in India. Maintain a self-confident persona.
Monitor signs of being encouraged to quit.
It reduces severance costs if the company can encourage you to resign on your own. Tactics to achieve that include lessening your workload, establishing impossible quotas, excluding you from the communications loop and public humiliation. There is no absolute right answer. Also remember a firing is perceived differently from a wide scale reduction in force (RIF). You might consult with a lawyer and career expert.
Review all legal contracts and agreements.
Your options may be pre-determined by what you signed during the hiring process. You might have entered into an agreement to stay on for 18 months after any merger. Or, your contract reads that you can’t work for a competitor for two years. That means it’s in your self-interest to try to make this work if you intend to stay in the same field.
Don’t settle in.
You might like to look forward to the day when the dust settles and your work life returns to normal. That’s not bound to happen. That’s because the tough nut to crack is integration of the cultures, systems and people.
Make sure you are ready. You can subscribe to our brand-new podcast, “The Pretend You’re Fired Today Podcast,” to learn what to do now to always remain employed, stay on top of your career, and never get caught off guard.
Lisa has been featured in Inc., BBC, Investor’s Business Daily, Forbes, Fox News, Yahoo Finance, US News, and many more reputable media outlets, and she was recently named one of the top 28 resume writers in 2016 by Career Toolkit. Lisa also recently launched a new podcast “The Pretend You’re Fired Today Podcast – http://pretendyourefiredtoday.com