Overshadowed by the 25,000 Lehman Brothers employees who woke up Monday morning to discover that their employer had gone bankrupt, tens of thousands of Merrill Lynch and Bank of America insiders are also left wondering what will happen to their jobs now that their companies have agreed to combine in a $44 billion deal.
Given the considerable crossover between the banks—especially in investment banking groups such as fixed income, equities and leveraged finance—and the $7 billion in cost savings that BofA has already identified, there will certainly be several thousand job cuts announced at both firms in the next few months.
If you’re a Merrill or BofA insider lucky enough to be a part of a prized group (such as Merrill’s brokerage unit or its M&A group) or one with little to no crossover (BofA’s commercial and consumer banking units), you have little to worry about. But if not, and you believe your job is in jeopardy, there are several actions you should be taking while you wait to hear about your fate.
Backing up a bit, to prepare for situations like this, it’s always a good idea to have an updated resume on hand. So, make sure to continually update your CV while on the job, because you never know when you’ll have to attach and send it out in a matter of seconds. It’s also a good idea to stay in touch with headhunters, so if you do need them at the drop of an axe, you have some solid relationships already in place.
Now that the merger has been announced, spawning predictions and rumors of cost-cutting measures and crossover, you first want to attempt to find out the validity of such predictions and rumors.
So, asking your direct manager if there’s any merit to them is a smart initial step. Depending on the predictions and rumors’ validity (or validity, in your opinion, of the response to your question), you can than begin to evaluate your options.
If you find out that the rumors are true, and cuts to your group are imminent, it’s best to wait it out—that is, definitely start your job search but don’t be too quick to leave just yet, since you could lose a chance at securing a very healthy severance package.
If you discover that layoffs are coming, but not for a while, it’s time to start searching far and wide for that next job. By doing this, you’ll avoid having to compete for similar open positions with the many others who will be looking for new homes when the axe finally comes crashing down. However, keep in mind that if you do make an exit before the wide-sweeping layoffs occur, you will forego any severance, which could be a small price to pay versus the alternative: out of a job long after the severance runs dry.
Marcy Lerner is the VP of Content and Editorial Research at Vault.com. She graduated from the University of Virginia and has a MA in history from Yale University.
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