888-983-1617 [email protected]

CFO Magazine: What to Do When Your Boss Sells the Company

This article originally appeared in CFO magazine. To read the original version, click here.

When a company is put up for sale, it creates a uniquely challenging situation for CFOs and other senior executives.

At some point in their career, most employees are taken by surprise by a change in their job situation.

But when a company is put up for sale, it creates a uniquely challenging situation for CFOs and other senior executives, who may find themselves in the unenviable position of having to ensure the success of a deal that will likely result in the loss of their jobs. During that uncertain and stressful period, they also have to strategize and plan for their next move.

Finalizing a company sale can easily take as long as a year, and through that entire process, senior executives must essentially do two jobs simultaneously:

  1. They need to devote themselves to their current responsibilities at work and, if possible, take on prominent new ones.
  2. They need to start thinking about how they’ll prepare personally for a probable job change.

If you’re a senior executive in a company that is being sold, your emotions regarding the prospect of re-entering the job market may largely depend on your career history. If you’ve made lateral moves between companies in the past, the process of finding a job may be fresh in your mind and won’t seem as intimidating. However, if you’ve devoted your career to a single company and gradually moved up the corporate ladder, you might be somewhat anxious about finding another position with the same level of prestige and compensation.

In my career as a strategic consultant for business owners, I often work closely with senior executives who are grappling with this situation. I’ve observed firsthand which strategies have been effective — and which have not.

GET INVOLVED IN A BIG WAY.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of unemployment, the first and most important thing you can do as a senior executive is to get involved in a very big project at your company, then make sure that you do a great job at it. The benefits of doing this are both personal and professional.

On a personal level, you need to feel comfortable that when the deal closes, you can leave with your head held high. On a professional level, a major new accomplishment serves as a calling card in future job interviews and helps frame your professional story.

BE A TEAM PLAYER.

Next, make it clear that you’re still part of the team at your company. Everyone is under pressure to maintain a sense of unity in the face of imminent change, so employee dedication is highly valued. And on a purely selfish level, if you want to share in the monetary benefits of a good deal taking place or get a strong recommendation from your current employer, you have to help this project succeed.

Remember that this a moment in time when you have to consider the interests of other stakeholders above your own. Customers and shareholders come first. After them are the rank-and-file employees who keep the business functioning from day to day. Senior employees are a distant third.

CREATE A NARRATIVE.

As you re-enter the job market, one of the most important things you can do is create a narrative about your career. You’re not just a former member of the team of a particular company; you’re an independent finance professional. And part of that new identity is knowing what skills and experience you have that are transferrable to other companies.

If you’re an industry veteran, don’t view your age as a negative. Many senior-level jobs out there require the combination of practical knowledge and instinct that only seasoned professionals have.

TAKE A CONSULTATIVE APPROACH.

It’s a common mistake to view potential job interviews as an opportunity to do a hard sell by rattling off your skills and experiences. But I would suggest a different strategy.

As you network and encounter new people who are in a position to offer you a job, take a consultative approach. Listen to what they have to say. Ask about their challenges and their needs. How are they financing their company? How is their organization getting the information to make big decisions? Probe, probe, probe.

As they open up, look for a natural opening to tell your story and explain how you’ve helped someone in a similar situation. Companies are inclined to hire someone who understands their needs and can offer solutions.

REMEMBER THAT CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.

Whatever happens in your job search, you have to be clear-eyed about what the options are. You may get a great new job, or, on the other end of the spectrum, you may be entering retirement sooner than you thought.

The good news for most senior executives is that they will have reached an income level where they have a financial reserve to insulate them through a period without income. So embrace the period of transition and make sure that you end up in a place that feels right.

How to Increase Business Value Before a Sale

Learn how to increas your business’ value to maximize sale profits and attract better buyers and/or partners.

Oaklyn Consulting Congratulates Medecipher on Acquisition by SnapCare

Oaklyn Consulting congratulates Denver-based cloud-based software developer Medecipher Inc. on its acquisition by SnapCare, a leading healthcare workforce solutions provider. Oaklyn Consulting assisted Medecipher in negotiating the business terms of the transaction....

Is Now The Right Time To Sell My Business?

Ask Us Anything Dear Oaklyn Consulting, For the last five years, I’ve been making 65% to 75% gross profit. I know in the next few years, gross profit is going to shrink because of new competition coming into the market. What advice do you have for me to consider...

How to Navigate Business Debt and Equity Options

When closely held businesses need capital, they generally have two options — getting a bank loan or seeking out private investors. While a loan isn’t going to be a viable solution for every liquidity need a business has, it can be significantly less expensive in the...

Help Me With a Conflict in My Family Business

Ask Us Anything Dear Oaklyn Consulting, Three members of our family business (a father and two sons) are not getting along. The father isn't retiring and wants to control the business, while the sons would like to sell the business. What advice do you have for the...

Help Me With a Succession Plan

Ask Us Anything Dear Oaklyn Consulting, It’s been a really hard year. I own a business that I’ve been successfully running for the last 15 years. I’ve had some health troubles that have pushed me to a position where my doctors are suggesting that I need to retire...

Can a Nonprofit be Acquired by a Corporation? 

Can nonprofits be acquired by corporations? Is it a good idea for for-profit businesses to acquire nonprofits? Learn everything you need to know.

Venturing into Capital: Understanding Small Business Private Equity  

Explore small business private equity and all of its alternatives to reach new heights for capital in your company.

Help Me With Acquiring a Business

Ask Us Anything Dear Oaklyn Consulting, I am a business owner who has a substantial local presence. I’m considering acquiring a competitor that has a larger presence outside my current market. This move would expand our footprint immediately and give us the...

How to Merge Nonprofits: Acquisition, Stakeholders, Post-merger Integration, and More

Merging nonprofits is not as hard as it sounds. Just make sure goals are aligned, assets are well assessed, and that you have the right advisors by your side.