Is A Lateral Career Move Right for You?

Most people associate career moves with forward or upward movement. You ascend to a higher position, earn higher pay and receive more perks. Conversely, a lateral career move results in a change of roles and responsibilities but not in status or pay. This bears the question, why would someone decide on a lateral career move? What kinds of business skills would be required and what exactly are the benefits?

Lateral career moves may place you in an entirely different role altogether. While this may sound good to some, this often comes with no movement in terms of designation or pay. You would hold different job responsibilities, which gives you the chance to learn new skills. The result could be viewed as a short-term sacrifice of higher designation and pay for a better opportunity to expand your range of expertise.

While a wise lateral move would strengthen your career, a rash move could threaten and derail it. This is why you need to consider the pros and cons of a lateral career move.

Advantages of Lateral Career Move

Job security

If you are expecting your department to be downsized, you might want to move to a different department to avoid losing your job. This gives you more time to recoup and plan your next career move.

Show off your strengths

A lateral career move will give your organization a chance to assess you in a new role. This can help boost your visibility in the organization, giving you a new opportunity to shine. Additionally, the skills and training you receive in your new role could help you with a promotion down the line.

Bide your time

You might be hankering for a promotion that never comes. Instead of waiting it out and losing the prime years of your professional life, you can make a lateral move to another role. This will help you gain new skills and make you an attractive prospect for filling a vacancy at a higher level.

Find opportunities outside your organization

When you have honed your skills through a lateral career move, you might find other organizations looking to recruit you. This new perspective often leads to more career opportunities in the long term.

A lateral career move also helps ward off the boredom that you might feel when working in the same role for many months and years. It will give you the chance to revitalize yourself and work with new people.

Why a Lateral Move Could Damage Your Career

While the positives of a lateral career move are vast, you will also need to think about the risks that a lateral move holds for your career. Here are some things to consider.

The skills associated with move aren’t beneficial

A lateral move might help you develop fresh skills. However, sometimes these are not the job skills you need to reach your professional goals. Often times, the skills gained through a lateral career move aren’t sufficient enough to warrant the change. In these situations, it’s best to avoid the career risk and wait for a more fruitful opportunity.

Too difficult

A lateral move might land you in a situation so unfamiliar that you might begin underperforming. The same goes for a situation where you might not have the skills to cope with the challenges thrown at you. These are situations you need to heavily consider as they can jeopardize your career in the long run.

The stigma

A stigma exists regarding lateral career moves and one’s inability to achieve a promotion. While the label may not be accurate, the perception could affect your professional life.

Thoroughly thinking through all these aspects could help you make the right decision between a beneficial lateral move or hazardous one.

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