May 12, 1998

Managing Your Career
by Hal Lancaster
Many Merger
Victims Can
Take Their
Time To Look for Work.

MERGER FEVER is upon us once again, disrupting the lives and careers of corporate managers everywhere. Inevitably, many will wind up unemployed, either because they lose out to counterparts at the other company or because they're uncomfortable with the new management or new corporate culture.

Thanks to the booming stock market and healthy severance packages, however, many of them will depart with healthy nest eggs and more career options than the run-of-the-mill job seeker.

They don't have to grab at the first decent–looking job that rolls by (although many do). It means they can take time off to contemplate their future, decompress and spend more time with their families. They can even pursue alternate careers and lifestyles.

But there are potential career traps here. many jump into another job too fast, particularly in this tight job market. When Federated Department Stores closed down Broadway Stores, recalls Neal Lenarsky, then group director of human resources for Broadway, about 70% of the managers who left took the first job offered to them. They didn't take time to see whether their skills and values matched the companies.

"Most made a bad move," says Mr. Lenarsky, now president of Strategic Transitions, a Los Angeles executive coaching and out placement firm. He eventually built up his own company after his departure from the Broadway.