Top 5 Tips for Today's Executive Navigating a Pending Merger, Buyout, or Organizational Restructuring

By Janice Burch, Executive Resume Writer, Career Coach, Co-Owner at Pro Resume Center, LLC


We all know about the big mergers and acquisitions of the last few years – Shell & ConocoPhillips, Oracle & Cerner, Discovery and WarnerMedia, Microsoft and Activision, and Broadcom and VMware.

In 2022, nearly 50,000 M&A deals were completed worldwide, with about 18,000 of those in the US. Last year was actually considered a low-activity year for M&A deals. While global dealmaking dipped to its lowest in over a decade in 2022 (Reuters), the number of executives and workers displaced through these deals, and on the heels of the pandemic, is staggering. Midway through 2023, more than 200,000 layoffs have occurred across 150 companies representing tech, banks, media and manufacturing – and we still have months left in the year.

Woman Let Go Carrying Box 300x200We have worked with hundreds of senior-level and C-suite executives from various industries, navigating mid and late-stage career changes due to M&A deals, subsequent layoffs, and organizational restructuring. They come to us at various search stages, yet they share fairly common challenges.

For many, the changes were expected – they saw the writing on the wall months earlier, or a trusted boss or board member prepared them for a potential change. However, others were caught off guard, thinking their positions would be safe.

So how, as an executive in today’s ever-changing corporatescape, should you prepare for the scenario?

Be ready.

Prepare in advance when you are less stressed and not dealing with a looming deadline. Taking the time to prepare before the hammer comes down is far more productive, and allows you to be more strategic and less emotional in your planning and search.

These are my top tips for getting ready to make a change if a buyout or layoff is looming in your company’s future. Call it career hygiene – call it an overhaul. But better to be ready than have to scramble:

  1. Identify the types of roles you are targeting next – review current job listings to get a feel for titles and the current market; talk to people who hold roles you might want; if looking to change industries, research the industry and understand the traits and skills they seek in a top candidate.Take an objective look at your skills, experience and accomplishments to assess how your career highlights would benefit your next employer.
  2. Discreetly gather important information on your big wins – projects, programs, people initiatives and transformations you led. It’s much easier to obtain this information while in a role vs. no access to company information. Take note of things you accomplished, built, and strengthened, and any results tagged to it (drove revenue by 10%; improved customer engagement by 20%; saved over $10M in operational costs following a lean exercise, etc.). Write down bottom-line results or any improvements to any facet of any division or initiative you touched. If you led the team in achieving results or drove the bus alone – capture those wins as they apply to your next targeted role.

Need help with WHAT kind of information to gather?

CLICK HERE for help uncovering your impacts and what you should share on your resume.

3. Rebuild your resume and polish your LinkedIn profile, keeping your target audience (your next employer) in mind. Pay attention to the must-have requirements and preferred requirements, and include relevant background aligned to these goals. Select a slick and polished format that is not busy with graphics or pie and bar charts – HR leaders and Recruiters tend to dislike graphic resumes as they are too busy and difficult to quickly scan to view titles, company names, and history of accomplishments. Keep it simple but polished.

4. Prepare the supporting materials you may need for multiple interviews with the same company. Executive and senior-level interviews often include several interviews with different teams, functions and leadership. Do you have other things to share with them throughout the process – besides your resume? How about a Project/Career Highlights page? An Executive Bio outlining your professional story? Key clients and logos you worked with or served? Having these other tools provides you with additional touchpoints throughout the process. It shows you have taken the time to prepare your marketing toolbox to showcase your value. One of these documents should include a references/recommendations page – which brings me to #5…

5. Check in with the references. Reaching out to your references is critical for various reasons: to make sure they are still willing to do it, to confirm you have the right contact information for them – do they want you to use a personal email or their work email – a mobile phone or work line? It’s especially important to connect with them to let them know what you are targeting and give them a few ideas on what to discuss if they receive a call. Jot down a couple of ideas to discuss with the reference and then follow up with an email outlining this information so they can pull it up when the reference check calls. Of course, remember to thank them for being a reference.

New Job 300x169

A reminder that every touch point you have in this job search journey, including the connections made with potential references, can trigger opportunities through their connections with companies who might need someone — just like you.

The next step is the search.

CLICK HERE to read Executive Job Search: Tap the Hidden Job Market for Success