Written by Anne Kimmel and Allie Wall
There are less and less companies in the logistics and transportation industry every year, or rather fewer large logistics companies. Acquisitions and mergers are a part of the business world. It happens – in almost every industry. It is interesting to note that smaller companies springing up in response to the big guys getting bigger and bigger, and these new kids on the block are becoming more specialized and more agile. We hear dialogue from people considering a newer, smaller company, but who express fear because the companies aren’t one of the top five or ten, or have a recognizable name. People wonder what that might mean for their careers.
Our Unique Perspective
Allie and I are not analysts. We haven’t taken a poll. This is our unique perspective because this is what we do all day, every day. We talk to people about jobs in the logistics industry. We help people further their careers. And when we tell people how to resign, we’re careful to explain the importance of never burning a bridge because you just don’t know who’s going to end up over you or under you in a year… or three.
We often say, “There’s a lot more specialization going on, so you might want to try specializing in something.” While this isn’t necessarily what’s going on globally, we’re seeing more and more of this on a local level. We talk to these people every day. Our experience has been that mergers and acquisitions in the logistics industry do have an impact on one’s career, and not necessarily a bad impact as some might think.
Three Ways to Help You Through Mergers and Acquisitions in Your Career
Stay on top of your career. Implementing measurables into your career planning will help you immensely, no matter what happens. When you diversify your career, you are able to apply new skills you have learned and contribute to the industry, no matter where you go. When you are knowledgeable about what’s going on in the market, there is less fear of change and you won’t be taken by surprise. Let’s take a closer look at each point.
Stay on Top of Your Career
Your career is like a plant. It’s only as strong as the effort and tending you put into it. Here is something you can do to be more valuable in your current position, and should this current position not pay off, you’ll have the elements to create a tighter and more effective resume.
Go to your boss with the following specific information. At the end of every week, write down the top three measurable successes, results you accomplished which made you proud. Quantify them with numbers, dollar amounts, or percentages. At the end of the month, choose your top three or four accomplishments. So often when folks have a review with their supervisor, people are sure that their value to the company is readily apparent, but often the person on the other side of the table, their boss, has no idea what they’ve been up to. It doesn’t matter if you’re good with customers. What matters to your boss is that you increased customer retention by 25% or you upsold customers by $50,000 a month. You need to be able to articulate your measurable successes. When you put it all down on paper, it pushes your mind, and your daily actions become different.
Keeping track of your measurable successes is a good practice. At the end of six months, put together your “cheat sheet.” Not only will this document illustrate your recent accomplishments to your current leader, it will also demonstrate your value should there be a merger or acquisition, where redundancy might make a worker obsolete. By looking at your measureable successes on a weekly basis, you know your value to the company, and you become more conscious of working toward saving, or making, your company money, or solving problems that favorably impact the bottom line. You, as opposed to the other five people on your team, will likely be seen as one of the company’s most valuable players during the next merger acquisition.
This is one way to insure yourself against volatility, as it also it helps when you need to write or update your resume. In the end, you either have a “cheat sheet” that you can show to your boss, or a more polished resume with job-specific measurable details you can give to your recruiter to help “sell you” as you seek the next company in your career path.
Diversify Your Career
We often see that people who have the specializations that are in current demand are able to diversify their career. It’s important to build your experience, and to diversify your experience, with strong companies. Sometimes the strong companies are actually smaller and more specialized companies, which may implement a little more entrepreneurial spiritedness in their thinking. Thinking about diversifying your career with a career-growth perspective will definitely help build your resume too.
Never is there a merger and acquisition that calms things down. It makes things more volatile. How do you safeguard or ensure yourself for success? Utilize volatility to your best advantage. If you have a diverse career, capitalize on it. There is no static. Even if you’re at the same company, things are changing. It’s never too late to start diversifying yourself.
You might be thinking, “But I’ve been with my company 15 years! I want to stay here forever.” Well, there’s a valid counter-argument, “Yeah, but look at what’s going on in the industry.” Think about it. Somebody who is making a change in the second half of their career who has experience with three really good companies is different than somebody who’s been in one place for 30 years.
Some people don’t make a move because they might be afraid to leave their company. But realistically, companies are always changing and growing (or dying), so their company is changing anyway. Change is inevitable whether you stay at the same company or you move. You need to make sure that you are strong and flexible in the face of mergers and acquisitions. Diversify, diversify, diversify.
Be prepared. Know what’s going on. Be educated. Just because you feel safe, that doesn’t mean that a merger or an acquisition won’t blow up the world, as you know it. But if you know what’s going on, then you won’t be taken by surprise or caught off guard, which leads right into our next point.
To be a viable, marketable person in the face of mergers and acquisitions, or any time really, you have to stay relevant in your company as well as in the industry as a whole. You have to constantly change and diversify your skillset to stay up to speed in the market. Here are several ways you can stay relevant and fight the impact that mergers and acquisitions might have on your career.
Don’t be surprised
Know what’s going on in the market
Don’t fear change
There is no static
Bring in technology
The number one skill that will help you the most is to continue to learn new technologies. We have three new companies we’re working with, and that’s what they’re all saying. The entrepreneurs that are backing it – not the freight people – are all saying, “Our industry is getting revolutionized by all this new technology.”
You have to constantly change, otherwise, you’re not going to make it long term. It’s gone way past emails and basic computer skills. Learn it all. Whatever is relevant or new in your market, learn it. Stay on top of things.
After the mergers and acquisitions, technology is how these companies start to really separate themselves from the pack. It trickles all the way down to how things are done on a daily basis, including how they support their customers.
Again, stay relevant. Stay on top of your career. Keep learning and growing and evolving. Be open to change. Diversify yourself. Even if you feel safe, the basic point is don’t get surprised. Don’t let a big merger knock you off track – at all. And when you find yourself impacted by one, you’ll know exactly what to do, because you’ll be prepared.