IT Employment optimize

What should I do: Company is merged and employee has to apply for her own job

This week's What should I do? entry comes from a TechRepublic member who, due to a merger, is required to interview for her own job. Here's the story.

This week's What should I do? entry comes from a TechRepublic member who, due to a merger, is required to interview for her own job. Here's the story.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The company I work for was bought out by another company. Our company was the same size as the company that bought us. I work in a sector of the company that was bought out, and we are considered System Admins, both for Windows and Unix. There are five of us that provide admin services for approximately 180 servers. We do a lot more than just 'Data Center' services for these servers.

We were finally told that we were going to have to interview for our jobs with the new company. We did that and also had a meeting with them explaining what all the servers did and how critical they were to the business (i.e., could it bring a line in the plant down if it went down). They indicated to us that we would find out about our positions sometime that month. We just found out that this has been postponed.

I guess is what I am asking is if you have an issue like this (which is we will either continue to work with the new company in Core IT; work for ACS; be asked to continue to work until the integration is completed; or be laid off with a severance) and you have a job offer, what do you do? Is this common in the big corporate world to put off letting workers know if they will have a job or not?"

Anyone have any experience with this sort of situation?

Got a career scenario of your own? E-mail it to us here. We'll post it anonymously, and see what kind of feedback your peers have to offer.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

25 comments
LeonBA
LeonBA

I haven't been in that kind of situation myself, but it sounds to me that the new company is very lukewarm about keeping her (and the others one) and continuing there is likely to be a letdown if not an exercise in frustration. In that position, given an offer for a roughly equivalent job elsewhere, that sounds like the better career decision.

RunMyOwnCompany
RunMyOwnCompany

When change is in the wind and people are insecure, if you want to retain your good people you act proactively and quickly. The ONLY reason to not do that is either 1) incompetent management or 2) you're hoping to reduce head count by having people quit rather than taking a hit on your unemployment insurance. Often times it's hard to tell the difference between incompetence and an evil plan. Either way, it sounds as if you're tying your career to a company that's so short sighted it can't see the intrinsic value of Corporate Knowledge and doesn't take any action to protect their most important asset - their people. Basically their lack of action should tell every employee that the company doesn't have a long term plan for anyone. Personally, as a business owner myself, I realize that without employees I would HAVE NO BUSINESS. I've often seen this mentality where the CFO directs corporate direction rather than the CEO or the management comes from a background of telecom, utilities, or some other place where saving money by cutting spending seems like a good idea. These are the same people that put one less sesame seed on the hamburger bun or shrink the size of the burger 1%, and repeat until the consumer finally notices and they lose more money from the lost market share then they ever gained from the changes. Taking into account the added costs of retooling the product did they even save any money? How smart is it to think that you can replace someone that knows a job with someone else that doesn't know it at all at a slightly lower cost? Do they actually think that experienced / knowledgeable workers are a replaceable commodity? And do you really want to work for a company like that? My only hope is that eventually they get everything they deserve. I've seen so many companies driven into the ground by mediocrity. Not failing is not the same as succeeding. They didn't do anything wrong, they just didn't do anything really right either, and eventually everyone else passed them. Do yourself a favor and move to a company that views what you do as a product rather than a fixed cost. You'll be treated better, monetarily and otherwise. Yes there are "layoffs" and reductions all over the place in IT. But at the same time companies are complaining that they can't find experienced workers to fill positions that remain open. In the mean time, start taking training classes if they offer it. Take time out of your day to work on Computer Based Trainings CBTs, etc. and get some certifications. Take advantage of anything that the company will pay for. Getting certifications not only gives your manager something to use to fight to retain your position or get you a raise, it also opens doors for you when you decide to venture back into the job market. Good luck with whatever you decide, but I'd at least start hedging your bets.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

I told the company that I already had an offer that had been spurred by the merger from another company. This put the present company in the position of courting me and I was able to get them to jump through hoops. The situation turned from them trying to position me as a supplicant pleading for my job to chasing me as their sought after lover. I not only "kept" my job but got a raise.

Lost_in_NY
Lost_in_NY

Some years ago, a new CIO came on-board and decided to completely re-make the IT department at a company I'd been working in for a number of years. Many of the job descriptions were rewritten, several were relocated halfway across the country, some were being outsourced, etc. What worked for me and what I recommend to you are (1) If you don't have at least a year's worth of living expenses in ready cash (and I'm NOT talking about your 401k!) then cut your spending to the absolute bare-bones minimum and sock away every penny you can and (2) Use all available resources to polish you resume and start a very serious job search as soon as possible. If you haven't interviewed for a while, read some of the many articles online about tecniques to land interviews, how to present yourself well when you do land one, etc. Even if you are offered your current job and choose not to leave, you will still get something positive out of the experience - (1) more money saved/more peace of mind if things don't work out down the road and (2) knowledge about how well your resume and interviewing skills are working and perhaps some areas you can improve. And if things don't work out with being able to keep the current job, you'll have a head start on finding a new one. In my case, the job I was doing/wanted was relocating. I interviewed for one I didn't want but it beat being unemployed. Although I got 2 offers externally, staying was a better alternative for me at the time than either of them (one job was a lot more travel than I could deal with and the other job had a salary 20% less than I was making then). But a few years later, I did find a position I really wanted and because I'd had some recent practice and success going on interviews, and because I had a good financial cushion by then, I was willing to take a chance what was a pretty challenging position. I hope things work out well for you, whatever you decide to do.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

I was in a similar situation about 4 years ago. The public company I was working for that the time had merged with others and the entire IT department jobs were up. The intention I had at the time was to go for the new Manager position on offer however I was told by my then boss that the option was not allowed as they were being offered to the ???current??? managers. I could go for my current position in an interview playoff. There were 4 positions and 8 people going for them. I started to look elsewhere about now??? We all prepared in the weeks ahead for the pending interviews only to be told in the final week leading up to them that there would now be no interviews and all staff were safe. The merger was no going well and the management got cold feet about losing IT staff. I stayed around for little over 3 months and then moved on (after sitting in a room staring at a wall working my 6 week notice ??? not allowed to do anything and they would not allow garden leave). The new upper management in place was incompetent and had everybody running around in circles. Moral was at an all time low and they started to talk about pay reductions in the next couple of years. I still stay in contact with friends over there and while things did improve for a few the general feeling is that the place is very???slowly???sinking. Me ??? I took another job, it turned out great and I added 8K to my salary in the process.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Keep on trucking if you think the corporate cultures won't clash too much. However, if you work for a company that has a completely different culture than the one that took you over, leave. What tends to happen is that the culture classes roll down to the employees.

Joe_R
Joe_R

I'd approach it the other way around - interview them to determine if you want to stay.

No User
No User

I would have a very uneasy feeling with your situation staying with the company. It's not a good sign that they first of all made you folks interview for the jobs that you currently have and that is following on the heels of being made to justify your jobs in the first place. More importantly to take a month to decide and then delay that all the while knowing the Anxieties they are putting all of you folks through. That is not a good sign at all. If they cared about you folks and more to the point if they wanted you then what would be holding them back from telling you? I think they have a couple things going on. One would be to see how many people leave on their own and in doing so for go the severance package and two I wouldn't be surprised if they have some deal going on behind the scenes to make another acquisition or to outsource something big that would affect you folks it has the feeling that something is a foot. It sounds like the jobs need filled and can't just be assimilated so why all the mystery if they are going to keep you? Having a paycheck is job one. Having a job you like and all that goes with it is job two. I would take the job offer if it is at least adequate. I always prefer looking for a job when I'm Gamefully employed that way I can only be viewed as trying to move up which is also flattering to the hiring company. When you get the notice even with a severance package you are begging for a job and they feel that you are desperate and they feel that they need to be on guard and do to your situation they feel that they can offer you less. If you hold fast for more they often feel offended. I say go with the bird in the hand it bets the two in the bush they being keeping your job or getting a severance. Last I would ask if they have said if you folks will keep your currant pay and benefits if they do keep you?

RationalGuy
RationalGuy

The title says it was a merger, the post says it was a buyout. These are two VERY different scenarios, that would have two very different approaches on the part of employees. Since this seems to be a buyout (otherwise you wouldn't necessarily be interviewing with the buying company for your own job), the best advice is to remember that it's THEIR company now. The worst thing to do is to tell your new owners that they should start doing business they way your old company (the one they now own) used to do things. Be very open to suggestions and offer your help to get your old company up to speed on the buying company's practices. Unless it's going to compromise the security of critical systems their way is always the best way -- even if it isn't. They are going to need expertise on the newly acquired system. Don't be the jerk who insists that you should keep doing things the old way. Be the agent of change that they need to make the business transition smooth, and not only will you keep your job, you'll probably get a promotion. Obviously, you have to feel out the situation for yourself, but don't feel offended or go in with knee-jerk negative attitudes. Remember, they need someone from your team, but they don't need everyone.

tastyPelau
tastyPelau

Yes, delaying important corporate hr decisions seem to be the norm in these situations these days. Co-workers from my previous job are going through the same situation currently. The odd thing is that the very people who complained the most about their employer are the ones desperate to keep their jobs. I say be wary of making rushed decisions based upon the perception of an unstable future in your current firm. Is the new job offer really a good one? Or would you have considered it if your current position was not in jeopardy? But if you can't take the pressure that comes with this uncertainty, and you are not sleeping well and your life is suffering then get out of the kitchen! good luck

kandyass
kandyass

Whatever the decision ends up being, it will be entirely one-sided in favor of the company. you should find yourself some other options, use your vacation and sick leave now if you aren't entitled to compensation for them at the end of your employment. Spend the time-off job hunting and networking. It sounds like they are scouring for opportunities to cut costs. Those final cost cutting decisions may not be particularly well-informed, your workload could double or worse if they keep you. They may also install a Nazi as your supervisor to force you to quit to avoid paying unemployment (if they let you go). Also, make a pro-forma budget based on the assumption that you will have 2/3 of your current income so you have a plan to make ends meet if you need to collect unemployment. Good luck!

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

...because the company is doing what is best for them. I agree with others posting here. If the new job is better for you, go for it. If staying and waiting is better, then wait and see. I don't think there is "corporate protocol" in these types of situations, so whatever you choose will be right, as long as its best for you.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

My firm was bought out by a competitor. Several people had to interview for their own positions. I ended up being one of the people that was deemed necessary to complete the integration, but wouldn't be retained by the firm. As enticement to stay aboard, I was given 6 months severance (I was there a little less than 2 years, so not bad at all). I was fortunate enough to walk into a job the week following my tenure. So, I was getting double pay, which allowed me to accomplish some things that wouldn't have been feasible otherwise. My point in sharing all of this is that a seemingly rough situation can really end up for the best, even if the initial outcome (not being retained) isn't the one that was desired. The longer they delay the decision, the more time you have to try to latch on with another firm. If you haven't already done so, make contact with HR & IT people at firms that are hiring, firms that you'd like to work for, and firms in the area that are related to the industry of your current employer. Do some peer networking, go to events; in short, put yourself 'out there' to get noticed. Also, remember that you do have some leverage with the purchasing firm; knowledge capital. I don't mention that to encourage an attempt at extortion or anything of that nature, but rather, to encourage you to remember that it doesn't necessarily have to be a 'their way or the highway' dealing. Win-wins, such as my situation, are possible and can be negotiated. Best of luck!

jgarcia102066
jgarcia102066

My situation was not exactly like yours but it's close enough. My company was going to have to layoff employees because we had lost some major clients. We knew this was going to happen for about 6 months prior to the actual layoff event. We did not know the target date for the layoffs to actually occur. We also knew that no position was safe... I coached my team (developers) on what they needed to be doing, just in case. The first thing was to have them update their resumes (I did that, too). The next thing was to start talking to all of their contacts (professional, personal, organizational, etc.) and to put the feelers out regarding any potential jobs or contract work. The next thing was to really control their finances and get rid of any unnecessary spending in case they were forced into an extended job search. In my personal search I found this very timely article and passed this on to the team as well: http://downloads.techrepublic.com.com/abstract.aspx?docid=324890 I found out a few weeks prior to the layoff event that I had to lose two developers. One had been listening and heeding my advice, the other one did not. The one that listened had so much contract work lined up that he had to tell a company that wanted to hire him that he could not start for a month to finish. The other one that did not listen, was still looking for a job two months after being laid off. Good Luck with your situation. Just remember to control what you can and let everything else take care of itself.

highlander718
highlander718

that is, if the job offer is OK, you like it and it's ferm, why not take it to be on the safe side rather than risking being laid off. If the job (offer) is not OK, stay and wait to see what's happening, you have enough time to look for another job afterwards if neccessary (you mentioned there is severance package). It depends mostly on how confident you are on your current position and how confident you are finding a job.

david.hornbeck
david.hornbeck

When mergers and or aquisitions occur, one of the companies has usually been for sale for some time. Corners have been cut to inflate bottom lines and many employees become disgruntled due to the lack of investment in the infrastructure (including employees). During this time, it is not uncommon for the cream of the crop to jump ship and find other employment. The incoming management then has to determine why the people still with the company have not left. Frequently it is company loyalty, but it is also sometimes due to a lack of skill sets preventing the person from being able to effectively search for a new job. Be happy that they did want to interview you. When they come in with a new vision, don't push the old way. There is a reason the company was up for sale. There is a reason a different management team is now leading it. It is up to you to try to adopt the vision of the new company. Often times, the situation improves greatly, since the new management understands that investments into the business have been on hold during the sale period. Change your perspective from what it was tainted into by the lack of investment, and try to help the new company succeed with a best practices approach. Ask yourself if you are part of the problem or part of the solution.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

I was once in a similar position -- reminded in weekly meetings that we could be cut anytime. It took a year to do, however it was an extra stressful year! If I had an offer on the table during this period, I am sure I would take it. Well, a good offer that is! I was offered a few that I turned down, and 1 that I knew I wasnt qualified for. These days companies are constantly acquiring other companies, and in the process, many employees will be let go to. One growing tactic is as you posted -- voluntary attrition. Make people sweat it out and when they are fed up, they will leave. Often after this, if too many people failed to leave, they will start layoffs.

d.j.elliott
d.j.elliott

I, too, read a lot on here and yours is one of the better replies. Your advice was good and ultimately improved your employees' skillset.

drnspot
drnspot

I just wanted to point out that not only was your advice truly mentor-like, but also kind-hearted. Preparing for the unknown has it's own obvious difficulties, but it sounds like you probably helped a few people other than yourself along the way. Thanks for taking the time offer well-written advice, and article resources, to yet more people facing this adjustment.

jdclyde
jdclyde

on your situation. If you are financially stable and haven't maxed out all of your credit cards, you are in a much better position to try a new job. Taking the job until something else can be found is a good, safe option. The problem is, a lot of times, they don't WANT the old employees. They are used to doing it a certain way, and many are to stupid to change their ways and accept the new way of doing things. The people that don't change deserve to be fired, while the others can be valuable employees because they know the industry.

No User
No User

You delivered it well. You are reading way to much into this. The basis for the points that you make in your theory are not mentioned in the article. For the record typically companies don't advertise that they are for sale and even after they are sold they will advertise that it is a partnership not a sale. You often get conflicting stories from seller and purchaser. This is directed at customers to keep them from baling out. Another important point which you being a DBA should be very aware of and that would be conversion fees. When you have a database involved one company will buy another for the intended purpose of forcing a conversion. They charge fees whether you convert to "their" software or " a competitors" and they get support fees all along the way. The conversion fees and support costs are equal to or greater then the sticker price. They get new customers and lose a competitor. ;) That process is very cold, callus and calculated and handled as very matter fact with complete disregard for everything but the bottom line. I have worked for companies that have sold off parts of the company and the entire company and I have been on the user side of those flips and doing conversions and I am in fact in that very process right now. The original company was sold twice before the second purchaser killed off the database. Most of the employees from the original company are with the second buyer so most didn't jump ship or get tossed over board and that is typical. Most will get phased out as the selling companie's product dies off and some will have offers with the new company. When they want to keep good employees at least until the sale is complete they inform using the it's no big deal theme. When the c-suite is moving on you read about in the paper. I was hired by one company which created a new position and office only to be laid off six weeks later. The sale was all hush hush and I didn't find out why I was laid off until I saw it on the front page of a technical magazine. I had other equally good offers at the time I took that job. I never would have taken it if I had known that I was plan B which was if the deal didn't go through. A company doesn't need to be hurting to sell out and in fact TTBOMK they most often are not. I have seen employees cut and or lives made difficult for the intended purpose of making the offer look more attractive and I have seen duplicate positions cut other then that employees good and bad roll into the new company. I can't say that I have seen your point of view happen.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

it does *not* mean wait for the blow. Get out while the gettin's good.

jgarcia102066
jgarcia102066

I appreciate your response. I read many discussions on this site but rarely contribute. In this case, my personal experience and advice will hopefully help others. If we don't take the time to help each other, who will? I know I've read a few valuable nuggets on this site that have helped me.

anvilofist
anvilofist

that was one of the best reply that I have read on this site in along time. I also do not contribute to this site much but now that I am retired I get to keep my mind busy in what I want, not what the boss needs