Yes, you should make a lateral career move if you feel that your present job is not satisfying you anymore or if you feel you will do better if you try something new.
Getting a job, retaining it, and loving it at the same time can be challenging. The feeling of stagnancy is not unique to you. Once the novelty of getting a new job or a new promotion dies down, you might feel that you are stuck, doing the same thing time and over again, day in and day out. This is one of the reasons which drives people to move up the corporate ladder constantly.
However, simply moving up in the ranks might not bring you the job satisfaction you are looking for. Because in most cases, it is about doing what you were already doing, on a larger scale and with greater responsibilities. That might cause more stress than satisfaction after a while.
One of the best ways to understand whether you are cut out for something different is to try a lateral career move. Making a lateral change often opens up new doors of possibilities.
You will come to know about things that you have never learned about before, and you might find exciting avenues and opportunities which you never knew existed. Read on to find out what a lateral career move is and how this might be the best thing for you.
What is a Lateral Career Move?
A lateral career move is when you change jobs in the same designation and take on a new role rather than moving up through promotion. You can do this within the same company or shift to a different organization. The move will most likely not earn you any extra pay, and you might also think that it is a waste of time. However, it is just what you need to be fully sure of yourself and realize that you are truly investing in something close to yourself.
There are three types of Lateral Career moves.
Changing the Job in the Same Organization
This happens when you decide to switch roles within the same company. Hence, you will take on new responsibilities and assignments which are very different from what you are currently doing. Doing this is beneficial to a large extent as you are already familiar with the company’s norms, work ethics, company policies, and more. All you have to do is learn about your new role.
Change Companies But Not the Job
This is when you move to a new organization and join the same designation with the same roles and responsibilities. So if you were marketing head in your previous organization, you join as a marketing head in your new organization as well. There might be a slight difference in pay, but the roles are predominantly the same. The perks are that you get to know more about your job but from a different perspective. You also get to meet new people and learn how the same task can be done differently as each company has its way of doing things.
Switch Companies and Responsibilities
This is perhaps the most drastic of all lateral moves. You change your company, and you also join in a new role. However, the designation level might be the same, and you might still draw the same salary as your previous role in your erstwhile organization. In addition, you will learn the new company culture and learn about new job skills and responsibilities that might make you think of a career change.
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What Should You Consider While Making a Lateral Move?
While making a lateral career move can be a good career move if you are suffering from stagnation, you do need to consider a few aspects before you finally make the choice.
You need to be aware that while making a lateral career move, you may have to settle for a lower salary and other perks.
In case you are changing industries, you may have to start right from the beginning, and no matter how many years you have worked, you are still a novice in that sector. Starting from a junior level all over again could result in a significant reduction in your salary.
Hence, you need to make sure that your finances are in good order to be able to live on a lower salary. Pay off your loans and make sure your reduced salary will still allow you to pay your bills comfortably.
While making a lateral career move, it is possible that you may have to change your location. Maybe the new position or role you are aspiring towards does not have many vacancies in your city. You could only make a satisfactory move if you move elsewhere.
However, will that suit you in terms of the lifestyle you are living in your present city? Are the living costs higher or lower than in the city that you currently reside in, and will your new salary allow you to cover your expenses?
Will you move alone or take your family with you? In that case, how will it affect the lives of your spouse or children? You need to take all these factors into account if you have to shift to get a satisfactory position when you make your lateral career move.
Sometimes, certain skills that you have learned on the job might help you in your new role as well. However, are you thinking of making a drastic career change? Do you want to retain your managerial position, but you are looking to work in a different organization or different sector?
In that case, will your past educational qualifications and work experience help you? Or would you have to go through rigorous training and take new online courses?
While a certain amount of new skill development is important to keep yourself updated, starting all over again or going back to school for a new position can be daunting, and you should consider whether your present circumstances would allow that or not.
You need to remember that making a lateral career move is not the same as getting a promotion. Many people erroneously assume that they would move quickly up the corporate ladder if only they were doing something else. However, that is not how things work.
Every industry has its own pace of working, and organizations have their own rules to follow. You must definitely consider whether there is scope for career advancements and promotions after you have made the lateral move, but ask yourself how it will affect you if you do not get the promotions as quickly as you expected.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider while making a lateral move is whether you will be able to switch back to your former job or former industry again. After all, you only decided to make a lateral move because you were not satisfied with your present position.
Are you sure you won’t feel the same way a few months into your lateral job? If so, how easy will it be to make a move back to your previous sector? If this is something absolutely new that you are exploring, you need to consider this aspect before making a major move.
Perks of Making a Lateral Move
Here are some of the reasons you might think of making a lateral career if you feel unsure about your current job.
1. More Exposure
A lateral move might help you gain more exposure. One of the biggest reasons people feel stagnant in their jobs is when they no longer find any novelty in what they are doing, and monotony sets in. A lateral move is a good idea to shake things up. With greater exposure, you will know of a new functional area and gain cross-cultural work experience.
Even if it is a lateral move, you might be required to shift to a new office or a new location, and that often brings its own set of excitements that makes you see your job in a new light.
2. Fill in Gaps in your Professional Development
When you work for a company, you are required to do a job in a certain way that might require one set of skills but might not require another set of skills at all. For example, you might have to look into the accounts and paperwork with minute details. Still, you might not have any idea whatsoever about dealing with customers and clients.
When this goes on for too long, you risk losing your communication skills and become hesitant to speak to them more. A lateral move that gives you more exposure to the front desk might help you. In addition, you will learn more about handling client relationships and interaction that will come in handy when you look forward to bagging a managerial role in the future.
3. Adding Variety
Making a lateral move will almost always entail adding variety to your present task. You will meet new people, learn about new tools, and contact clients. You will eventually come to know many things about running an organization.
This could be true when working with the same company or in a new company. This is an exciting phase that lends you a new perspective as you diversify your skills. A promotion is always great, but it brings a new set of responsibilities and added pressure, which might not be what you are looking for.
4. Increase your Worth
Combining what you have already learned in your previous job and what you learn at your new one will equip you with a wide range of skills. And when you put them to good use, you are sure to become more visible as a resourceful and talented person in your organization.
This will make your managers and seniors notice you more, and you might be up for a promotion even without asking for it. You are sure to get more acknowledgments, and you will prove to be a valuable asset to your company.
5. Job Satisfaction
Finally, you might feel that you are finally getting the job satisfaction that you always wanted in your job. Trying out new things can break a pattern that might have caused stagnancy. A change in coworkers and tasks renews your excitement, and the change in the environment, if you have changed companies, can also add to the variety.
Sometimes this is more meaningful than simply making more money. For example, once you feel happy about your job, you will feel enough enthusiasm to do better, which will automatically make you more productive, bringing in more money later through perks and promotions.
Also Read: Entrepreneurship vs. Freelancing: Difference and Which is Best?
How Do You Know You Need to Make a Lateral Career Change?
Once you have considered making a change, you can evaluate yourself to check if the lateral move is best for you.
- Evaluate Yourself: Do you think you can do better in a lateral position, with a different set of tasks, compared to what you are achieving now? When you see yourself and your friends in the other department, perhaps, do you feel you could excel in that role too?
- Consider your Goals: What kind of work do you see yourself doing in the next three to five years? Do you think how things are will help you achieve those goals? The idea that unless you are moving up the ladder, you are not making a difference doesn’t work anymore.
- Speak to your Seniors: Often they have a better idea about your capabilities than you may have about yourself. They might suggest what new avenues you may explore that would make the best use of your skills and capabilities.
- Consider what Makes you Curious all Over Again: Once we start working, we fail to keep seeing new things and focus all our attention on the task at hand. This is bound to usher in monotony after a point. Instead, keep your curiosity alive and find objects and tasks of interest that motivate you. It will be easier to make a lateral move when you find something.
How to Negotiate Salary for a Lateral Career Move?
While making a lateral move, you need to consider how to negotiate your salary. After all, you are making a move for a chance at something better. There are various possible scenarios you will encounter.
Firstly, you may be making the move in the same organization but in a different department, and your designation remains the same. In that case, there will not be any major difference in your salary.
However, you may expect a drastic reduction in your salary if you are changing sectors and you have to start from a junior position. In that case, you must research the salary of the position you are applying for.
However, although you are novice in that field, you would still carry a certain degree of work experience from your previous job, which will give you a relative edge over the freshmen candidates.
Although you would still need to learn about a few things, you would be knowledgeable about some other areas and use certain tools that will make you pick up the ropes of the new position far more quickly than a fresh graduate.
Hence, you might highlight what you are bringing into the job while negotiating the salary so that you do not have to settle for the minimum. Also, be sure to ask your employer about what prospects of growth you have in your new job and what you can hope for in the future.
How to Avoid Stagnancy in Lateral Career Move?
You have to be mindful of the fact that just like you experience stagnancy or dissatisfaction in your present job, which induced you to think about making a lateral move, you might experience something similar a few months into your new job.
Sometimes, people make lateral moves, only to realize later that their previous job was better. To prevent yourself from having any regrets, make sure that you are a hundred percent onboard with your idea of making the move.
In the same way, always look for ways to keep moving forward. Keep learning new skills and look for ways to make your job more interesting. Sometimes, the problem lies with the organization and not with the actual job, so changing companies could also bring a fresh bouquet of opportunities.
It is important to evaluate yourself before you make this move. Look at how your peers are doing in the same position and how it will make you feel better. Are you just doing it for better pay, or will you genuinely feel more fulfilled about this new position?
Answering these questions will help you proceed and will prevent stagnation further down the line.
Change is exciting but can be frightening as well. Job security and steady paychecks may prevent you from moving out of your comfort zone and experiencing something more rewarding. Making a lateral move can solve your problem because you will still be drawing the same amount of salary, if not slightly more, and will have something new to try out. It can be scary at first, and sometimes, you might even have to start a rung or two lower than your current position. However, if you look at the larger picture and start loving what you are doing, your chances of making it big later would be far greater than ever.