Employer Loyalty in the Era of M&A



I am a Search Consultant, aka Recruiter or, with more levity, “Headhunter”. I say this so you understand I may be biased; I would like to think I am impartial, but I feel very strongly on certain topics from my own pre and post Recruiter experience. One topic that reared its ugly head to me this past week is the topic of loyalty between employer and employee. 


At one point in my career in working for a construction firm, I rode a wild ride of acquisitions during the dotcom boom. I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly as the company I worked for was acquired. In short order, that entity was in turn acquired again. Overlooking the fact that all employees were left with looming insecurity for their job along with many month-long benefit nightmares from the “integration”, to say it was a mess would be kind. Many of the key Managers, who were instrumental in making the company a valuable acquisition target, were cast aside after the fact. I am not bitter over the experience as you either win or you learn. In my case, I learned. I do not pen this to be a fearmonger or to say all acquisitions turn out poorly. What I can say with certainty is that your value as an employee is no higher than when you are employed.



There are many iterations in the life of a company of which very few are predictable. Many “life happens” moments are outside of our control. Bosses and mentors come and go, companies merge or are acquired, life circumstances change, the quality of life erodes, the economy wobbles, heck…. you may even run into a pandemic! You need options, BEFORE you are thrust into unforeseen conditions. Sometimes companies are forced to do things during an economic downturn such as being forced to cut staff for the company to survive. They WILL feel badly laying you off, but at the end of the day that will not buy you any groceries or pay your bills. Very few people who worked for URS predicted that they would be acquired by AECOM. Very few people who spent their careers working for Malcolm Pirnie predicted their new company would be called Arcadis. Pick a firm in the past 5 years who has been acquired and you’ll find that very few workers outside the C-Suite saw it coming until the ink was dry and it was thrust upon them.


The example I referenced when I noted earlier “it reared its ugly head” pertains to an engineer I spoke with this week who is not currently employed. Trust me, this individual is what we call in the recruiting business, a Rockstar…the entire package in academics, credentials, advanced relevant experience, career growth and stability. They had worked diligently for one of the larger consulting firms for a decade and a half until recently, when they were cut loose after the company was acquired. Like so many people I speak with, they could not fathom “it could happen to them” until it did.



As Mark Twain said, “when you need a friend it is too late to make one”. Expand your options! Life has a crazy way of throwing curve balls at all of us. You are the Captain of your career and life, and it is up to you to ensure your family and your career have a safety net.


I may be biased, but the next time you hear from a professional recruiter dedicated to your niche, I suggest you find 10 minutes to further a relationship that can be instrumental in providing an invaluable sounding board for you at the very least.  At best, they might provide access to a career opportunity that could have a profoundly positive impact on your life.


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