You may not have considered it before, but the increasing number of mergers and acquisitions can actually help you find qualified workers. But instead of chasing after the displaced workers, take a closer look at the survivors: they may be ripe for picking.
Disenchanted survivors of mergers are often ready to make a move. Many find themselves with more work, the same salary and a less-than-friendly working environment. "When I'm looking for talent, of course I want to know who has been let go [in a merger], but I also find out who is still there," says David Preng, president of Preng & Associates, a retained executive search firm in Houston. "These employees are usually high-caliber and, as survivors, they may be dissatisfied because of cost-cutting pressures."
Preng suggests using diplomacy when approaching this potential talent pool. When making initial contact, subtly ask if there's any dissatisfaction with their current work situation. If possible, try to find out if they stayed on the job even though they wanted to leave. But don't act too quickly: Preng cautions it's best to wait until the dust settles, when key employees come to realize what working for the revamped company is really like.
Ellen Paris is a Washington, DC, writer and former Forbes magazine staff writer.
Preng & Associates, (713) 266-2600, www.preng.com.