Boss is STRONGLY suggesting we'll be laid off 6 months from now. What to do with that information?

I'm new at this company. Started 6 months ago. But company is getting acquired and there's fears of layoffs everywhere. Over the past month or so, my boss has instructed my entire team to focus on our professional development and keep our networks "warm" as "we don't know what's going to happen" once the merger closes.

Usually, I'd take this as a sign to start job hunting ASAP but what's holding me back is that I've only been at my current role for 6 months. Before that, I worked for another tech company that ALSO laid me off (along with 80% of all staff) after 7 months back in 2022. I would also note that I have a performance bonus in my current job and I got 85% of it even though I was still technically "ramping up." So I think my performance has been pretty good.

So right now my biggest fear is that of short tenure. My resume pretty much looks like:

- 2020 - 2022: job #1. quit for diagonal career switch into more analytical role.

- 2022: job #2. 7 months at new job (laid off)

- 2023: job #3. 6 months at new job (now looking like lay off at the 1 year mark.)

On one hand, my career has still followed an upward trajectory: I got a 17% raise from Job 1 to Job 2 and a 52% raise from Job 2 to Job 3. So that's good and makes me hopeful about the future. On the other hand, I feel that if I start job searching now the first thing recruiters will ask me is "you JUST started at this company 6 months ago. And the company before that you were only there for 7."

How should I handle this information going forward? Ideally, I'd love to stay at my current company but clearly, my boss is strongly indicating I need a plan B asap.

Hi there!So sorry to hear about the foreshadowing. I'm sure it's causing a lot of anxiety and stress. That can impact our decision-making abilities, among other things, so be sure to take care of YOU first and foremost so you're in the best headspace.One thing I would do is to get really clear on what you're wanting in terms of a company and role. What do you love about your current role/org or past ones? What isn't working for you? Getting clear on what you want can be helpful before jumping straight into the "action." Just in case, I would start updating your resume and focus on all of the wins that you've had! There isn't anything you can do about the short tenures, but you can always control how you message it. When the recruiter asks, "Why, " you have a story to tell." The worst they can say is no. Go straight to the hiring team/org, when possible unless you have a recruiter you trust.Given the market, your network may be the most powerful resource you have right now. I've heard from others in my personal network that referrals have been the primary source of getting a "foot in the door" with hiring managers. I've also seen other communities stepping up and helping others find jobs. Once you know what you want, they can help facilitate intros.Hope this is somewhat helpful!
Start applying! Is there any chance you could be transferred to another safer team at this job? If not, I think best course of action in this situation is to just keep applying around and find another more secure job if possible.
The best time to look for a new job is when you're still employed! So start now
This sounds like an episode of Suits. You need to be Nigel. Nigel researched the company on the opposite side of the merger. While he was confident in his abilities, he needed to know who was the “Nigel” of their company. Upskilling and networking is great but you need to know who and what you’re up against. It’s sounds harsh but you are a number to the people who make the decisions. That’s if you want to stay with this company. Freshen up your resume and start your job search. See if you can set up some informational interviews with your Hiring Team or any recruiters in your network to see what you might need. Hope this helps. Good luck.
Echoing the other commenters telling you to start looking now. I have quite a few short stints/gaps on my resume and can tell you that people are much more open to it than they were pre-COVID. When recruiters or hiring managers ask why you are looking to leave so soon, you can be honest and let them know that while you enjoy your job, your manager has been transparent that there is a risk of layoffs and that you want to get ahead of it.
As an interviewer of candidates, I would not have a problem with a candidate telling me "I was warned of possible layoffs by my current manager." That is a valid reason to be job hunting that has nothing to do with your performance or potential, and it would assuage my fear as an interviewer of you leaving my job early if I hired you.