What is a lateral move?

June 4, 2024

    lateral move

    So, what is a lateral move?

    A lateral move in a career is when an employee changes roles at the same level within their company. This means taking on a new job title without a promotion or pay increase. It's a shift to a different position with similar responsibilities and status.

    People consider lateral moves for various reasons. Sometimes, it's about gaining new skills or exploring different areas within the company. Other times, it's a strategic step toward long-term career goals. This type of move can provide fresh challenges and opportunities for growth.

    What makes a lateral move ideal for some employees?

    There are many reasons someone might make a lateral move:

    • Professional growth. Employees often seek new experiences and challenges.
    • Some might want to develop new skills. For instance, an engineer might move to a project management role.
    • Work-life balance. A different role might offer more flexible hours or a better location.
    • Relationships at work can also influence the decision. People may move to a department with a better team fit.

    Is there a difference between an internal and external lateral move?

    Yes! Here is how the two moves differ:

    Internal lateral move:

    • Within the same company
    • Often involves changing departments
    • Can include changes in duties

    External lateral move:

    • Between different companies
    • Role remains at the same professional level
    • Can involve relocation or different work environments

    Both types provide new opportunities and experiences. They can help employees build diverse skills. Whether internal or external, lateral moves often refresh careers and keep work engaging.

    Here is how lateral moves can be beneficial

    Professional development

    A lateral move can enhance your skill set. It can provide new knowledge and experiences. Learning a different role can be a way to gain a wider understanding of the industry. This can make an employee more versatile.

    It can also be a way to keep growing in your career. New roles often come with different problems to solve. These can help you learn to think in new ways. This development can be key for long-term career growth.

    Expanding your network

    Moving to a new position can connect you with new people. It can grow your professional network. Strong connections can lead to more job opportunities and advice. This can be helpful in shaping your career path.

    A larger network can also provide support in your job. You can learn from the experiences of others. This can be helpful in future roles. Networking is crucial for career advancement.

    New challenges and experiences

    A different role can bring fresh challenges. These can help you grow personally and professionally. Facing new problems can build problem-solving skills. It can also keep your job exciting.

    New experiences can prevent job boredom. They can also boost your creativity. Taking on challenging tasks can prove your abilities to employers. This can be critical for your career growth.

    Lateral moves may have an impact on pay, but how much of one exactly?

    When considering a lateral move, it's crucial to evaluate changes in pay, benefits, and long-term financial effects. This ensures your new role supports your financial goals and needs. Topics you will need to consider:

    Salary and pay grade

    When making a lateral move, salary might not increase. Companies position lateral roles at similar pay grades. This often means a move without a raise.

    Still, some companies offer slight bumps to match market rates or skills. Researching industry standards can help you gauge if your salary fits the norm. Consider cost of living if you're moving to a different location.

    Comparing pay between the current and new roles is key. Ensure that your responsibilities match the compensation offered.

    Negotiating perks and benefits

    If the salary doesn't change, perks and benefits may provide compensation. These can include:

    • Health Insurance: Look for better plans or lower costs.
    • Retirement Plans: Check for higher company contributions.
    • Paid Time Off: More holidays or flexible leave.

    Negotiating these benefits can make a big difference. For instance, tuition reimbursement or remote work options can offset a static salary. Know what perks are most valuable to you and bring them up during discussions.

    Long-Term financial consideration

    Think about the long-term financial impact of a lateral move. This includes:

    • Career Growth: Will the new role open doors for future promotions?
    • Skill Development: Are there opportunities to learn new skills that can boost future earnings?
    • Job Security: Is the new company stable?

    Consider how this move fits into your financial plan. Sometimes, lateral movement offers better growth potential, leading to higher earnings later. Evaluate both immediate and future financial benefits.

    Keep in mind, compensation isn't just about salary. It's about the total package and how it fits your career and life plans. Review all factors carefully to make an informed decision.

    Management play an important role in lateral moves

    They provide necessary support, assess candidates, and ensure proper training programmes are in place.

    Support from leadership

    Leadership's support can ease an employee's transition in a lateral move. Leaders provide encouragement, set clear goals, and foster a positive environment. Open communication between leaders and employees is vital. Team meetings, one-on-ones, and feedback sessions can help.

    Leaders can inspire confidence by recognising achievements and addressing concerns. This support can motivate employees to adapt quickly and feel valued. Leaders also create opportunities for growth, ensuring the move benefits both the employee and the company.

    The hiring manager's perspective

    The hiring manager evaluates candidates for lateral moves. They look at skills, experience, and fit for the new role. Interviews and reviews help in this assessment.

    The hiring manager's role includes:

    • Assessing qualifications
    • Conducting interviews
    • Checking references and past performance

    They also ensure the chosen candidate aligns with the team's needs and company goals. This careful selection process ensures the right person is in the right role.

    Transition and training programmes

    Transition programmes help employees adapt to their new roles. These programmes offer guidance and resources for a smooth change. They might include mentorship, onboarding sessions, and checklists.

    Training is also crucial. Employees need to learn new skills and processes. Training methods can be:

    • Workshops
    • Online courses
    • On-the-job training

    These programmes ensure employees are ready and confident in their new positions. Management must continually evaluate and improve these programmes for effectiveness. This will help in achieving overall job satisfaction and productivity in lateral moves.

    Strategies for making a lateral move

    When making a lateral move, focus on how to showcase your skills on your resume, perform well in interviews, and negotiate effectively for your new role. Here are key strategies to help you succeed.

    Crafting your resume for a lateral position

    Tailor your resume to highlight relevant skills. Emphasise responsibilities similar to the new position you’re aiming for.

    • Skills Section: List skills directly related to the new role.
    • Experience Section: Showcase achievements in similar roles, using bullet points for clarity.
    • Keywords: Use terms from the job description to pass through automated systems.

    Make sure to provide measurable results from past jobs to demonstrate capabilities.

    Effective interview techniques 

    Prepare thoroughly for interviews by focusing on how your skills can translate to the new position.

    • Research: Understand the company's values and needs.
    • Practice Answers: Prepare responses for common interview questions.
    • STAR Method: Use the Situation, Task, Action, Result method to structure your answers.

    Confidence and clear communication can make a significant difference, so practise speaking about your past experiences and how they align with the job.

    How should you negotiate your new role?

    When negotiating, be clear and realistic about your expectations.

    • Market Research: Understand the typical salary and benefits for the role.
    • Highlight Value: Show how your skills and experience will benefit the company.
    • Be Ready to Compromise: Stay flexible and open to different offers.

    Being informed and prepared will help you secure a fair job offer.

    Lateral moves sound great, but are there any downsides to them?

    Lateral moves can offer new experiences and skills. However, they can also come with certain risks like burnout, limited career advancement, and misalignment with long-term goals.

    Risk of burnout

    Moving laterally might mean getting new responsibilities. It often requires learning and adapting quickly. This can lead to stress and long working hours. Without proper support, the employee might feel overwhelmed.

    Being in a new role might also mean proving oneself all over again. This constant pressure can result in exhaustion. Eventually, it could affect the worker's health and job performance.

    Limited upward mobility

    Lateral moves do not always lead to promotions. They involve changing roles without advancing in rank. This might hinder one's climb up the corporate ladder. While the move may develop new skills, it might delay reaching higher positions.

    Employers might not see the employee as committed to moving up. They could perceive lateral shifts as a lack of direction. This could limit one's chances of further promotion within the company.

    Misalignment with long-term objectives

    Switching to a different role might not align with career goals. The new position might not match one's skills or future aspirations. This could lead to dissatisfaction and a sense of being off-track.

    Long-term objectives usually involve clear steps. Lateral moves may divert attention from these steps. Over time, this misalignment can make it harder to achieve career aspirations.

    Lateral moves might seem like sidesteps, but they can drive career growth

    They provide chances to sharpen skills and find new paths.

    How to leverage a lateral move for a promotion?

    Lateral moves can lead to promotions. By moving sideways, employees gain unique experiences. This makes them stand out for higher roles.

    For instance:

    • They understand different facets of a company.
    • They connect with diverse teams.
    • They solve varied problems.

    These experiences are valuable. When a higher role opens, these employees are ready. They've shown they can adapt and excel in various settings.

    Is a lateral move the same as a promotion?

    No. A promotion usually means a higher rank and more responsibilities. A lateral move often involves a change in job role without a change in rank. It focuses on gaining new skills or experiences.

    This post was written by: Alicia Edwards, Digital Marketing Assistant