How to Make the Most of a Lateral Career Move

Aha moment: You can move up by moving laterally.

Do you believe the myth that a lateral career move isn’t worth it?

Think a career move that doesn’t result in a larger paycheck doesn’t make sense?

The truth is, you can use lateral moves to position yourself for really great future opportunities.

Don’t make the mistake of passing over a valuable experience just because it doesn’t pay more than your current job.

Not buying it? You will.

Here are the keys to realizing how beneficial a sideways career move can be.

Skills you have vs. skills you need

Understanding what skills you already possess and the skills you need to get you where you want to go in your career is one way to justify a lateral move.

Saying yes to this kind of move allows you to add skills to your toolbox. Embrace the opportunity to learn something new and build relationships along the way.

Even if the job doesn’t necessarily mean growing your skillset but it enhances your network and support structure, consider it a valuable move and a good way to build your brand.

Transfer skills

When you do move on to a different job, don’t leave the skills you’ve acquired behind.

Rather than dropping them, incorporate them into your new position as you are learning new things. And keep accumulating skills to add to your repertoire.

The best lateral moves happen when your expertise expands to multiple areas.

Focus on contacts, not title

Exposure is valuable for your career  –  more valuable than the title you hold.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that having a label or designation means more than the relationships you can form and the additional skills you can acquire by moving to a new position in which you may not have a better title.

You can get ahead based on the circle of people who can vouch for your skill. Making a career move opens up a whole new set of people that you can work with, learn from and who will get to see you in action.

Communicate your skills  –  internally and externally

A lateral opportunity gives you the chance to add to your resume. In this way, taking a new position internally can have an impact for you externally as well.

You may not be moving “up” in position, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as valuable for your career.

It’s okay to toot your own horn, sometimes. Always be championing your own skills so that those who are in a position to promote you laterally are aware of your skills and your worth.

Negotiate experiences

Be intentional about asking for or creating an experience that you couldn’t get in a prior role when considering a lateral job offer. Make specific requests for activities that will allow you to acquire new skills.

For example, maybe you’d like to have more experience in managing other people but that isn’t part of your job description. Take the initiative to float some ideas to your superiors and try to get them on board with what you’d like to do.

A good move

Any change that allows you to grow and opens you up to more opportunities is a good move.

Making connections with a more diverse group of people widens your circle of contacts and increases the number of people who can attest to how well you do your job.

Having as many new experiences as possible broadens your horizons, as well. Your expanded toolbox of skills will help make you more marketable in the future.

Because ultimately, moving laterally is a stepping stone to moving up.

Have you ever turned down an opportunity for a lateral move because it didn’t seem financially worth it?