How Safe Is Your Job When Companies Merge?

The United-Continental airline merger has employees in both camps concerned about their future job security. Generally, when two companies merge, operational redundancies are uncovered -- which means the elimination of jobs. And since Chicago will be the new headquarters for the combined airline, employees at the Continental headquarters in Houston realize that their jobs could be at risk.

Because a merger of this magnitude will take some time to complete, some employees will likely be incented to stay on as long as necessary, giving them time to prepare a strategy should their job be eliminated due to the merger.

If you think your job may be at risk due to recent merger activities or just the current state of the economy, here are some ways to proactively manage your career so you are prepared if you need to start searching for a new job in the near future.

  1. Make sure you have electronic copies of your previous performance reviews, letters of recommendation, and non-proprietary samples of your work. These documents will prove invaluable when you update your resume and other personal marketing collateral.

  2. Audit your online identity. Do a Google search on yourself by putting your full name in quotes into the search engine and review the results. Would it be easy for a hiring manager or recruiter to find you online and what type of information is reported about you? If you don't exist on Google, or are hard to find online, consider creating online identity profiles on tools such as LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, and Google Profiles

  3. Organize and reconnect with your contacts. Start examining your Rolodex or contact management system and begin developing a strategy for reconnecting with contacts.

  4. Be responsive to recruiters. Rather than feeling like "fresh prey," acknowledge the situation as a possible win-win for both you and the recruiter. Even if you are not the right fit for their open opportunity, you may be able to help them fill their pipeline for other positions. By building the relationship now, you are more likely to be considered for relevant openings in the future.

  5. Get your finances in order. Examine your fixed and variable expenses and if necessary, make decisions regarding your assets.

  6. Schedule appointments with health-care providers. Take care of basic check ups now while you can still count on your benefits coverage.

  7. Maintain open communications with your family. It's important to be transparent about what is going on in your industry or company, even with young children. Explain your situation in an age-appropriate, non-threatening way... both teenagers and small children are able to make small sacrifices when they understand a situation.

  8. Buddy up with someone who truly understands your situation. Whether it is a colleague, friend, mentor, spouse, support group, or career professional, try to create a dialogue with someone who can share your concerns, offer advice, and act as an advocate for your career goals.

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