Although everyone is well aware of the importance of moving up the career ladder, most people remain unaware of the benefits of lateral movement. A lateral career move is one in which you don’t necessarily move up the career ladder, but you do change your job. It can involve a move to a different company but it can also simply involve a department transfer.
For example, it is not uncommon for those involved in marketing to move into IT, or those involved in accounting to move into finance. Provided your existing skill set can be applied to your new role, you might be surprised how easy such a move is to make. And while it certainly isn’t as beneficial as an upward career move, lateral movement can still have an incredibly positive effect on a persons career.
Should you find yourself not progressing as fast as you would like in your current company, or perhaps in your current department, you might find that a lateral career move is exactly what you need to jump start your career prospects. I will now outline the primary benefits of moving not up but to the side.
We would all love to believe that the harder we work, the faster we will move up in a corporation but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Many people find themselves hitting a brick wall in terms of career progress through little fault of their own. Common reasons include a lack of opportunities for advancement within a specific company and/or intense competition for those that do come up.
Those who find themselves in this position can greatly benefit from a lateral career move. They could choose to move to another company, or they could try to transfer to a different department within their current company. Regardless of which type of lateral career move is attempted, the goal is the same, to go around the obstacles that are standing in the way of their advancement where they are.
Although a lateral career move rarely leads to an increase in salary, it can still lead to more money in the bank. A popular example being that when you decide to make a lateral career move to a new company, you have the option to relocate. If you choose to live somewhere with lower living costs, even an identical salary will go much further.
Lateral career moves can of course also lead to better benefits if you choose your new company wisely. You might find yourself doing the same job, for the same salary but with a fancy new company car to drive. Lateral career moves are also popular with those unhappy with the levels of health coverage offered by their current employer.
New Skills and Experience
One of the primary benefits of making a lateral career move into a different department i.e. from marketing to IT, is that in doing so, you are going to greatly increase your skill set. And of course the more skills you have, the more valuable you are going to be in the eyes of your employer.
When you stay in the same position for years on end, the amount that you learn each year obviously begin to drop. On the other hand, when you transfer department, you have the opportunity to learn an entirely new skill set. And as you will be learning on the job, you will amass experience in applying those skills fast.
Increased Networking Opportunities
Another advantage of a lateral career move is the number of new contacts that you end up obtaining. This is particularly apparent when you make a move from one department to another in the same company. Chances are high that you will be the only person that has worked in both departments and therefore the only one with extensive contacts in both camps.
This leads to you being the ideal person to manage any projects that require extensive collaboration between the two departments. As you can imagine, this doesn’t exactly harm your future management prospects.
Protection Against Downsizing
Finally, the current economic climate is leading to more and more people having to deal with the anxiety associated with a lack of job security. Should your company be downsizing or if the industry in which it operates be in such levels of decline that future downsizing appears inevitable, it may make sense to move yourself out of the firing line.
If you believe that your position would be one of the first to go in the event of downsizing, it could make a hell of a lot of sense to move to a more vital position within the company. Doing so could easily mean the difference between a new job and no job at all.