The more educated ask the same question in a little more sophisticated way: is my career my calling? Is my occupation my true vocation? Honestly, unless the answer comes out in the affirmative, you should keep making career moves-either vertical or lateral.
While it is natural to quit one job to take another one that brings with it a promotion or higher pay, it was, until recently, unusual for someone to move from one position to another that is similar in status in the same company or in a different one.
But in the last few years, it has almost become a common phenomenon. Following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a lateral career move:
– Breaking the monotony: It is psychologically true that whenever we take our first jobs or start working in new positions, we are usually excited about them; but in the course of time, our interest wanes and soon we begin to suffer from an excruciating boredom.
A lateral career move fills us with new excitement that propels us into working with renewed interest and enthusiasm.
– Prospect of promotion: A lateral career move provides us with new experiences, the possibility of learning new skills, gaining new insights, and broadening our perspectives.
As a result, our chances for promotion are improved.
– Improved job security: There are cases when a company is going to be downsized because of an under-performing department. If you have been working in such a department, a lateral career move would give you a chance to remain with the company for a longer time.
Besides, it would give you an opportunity to establish and enhance your worth to the company.
– Enhanced marketability: A shift to a new position or department provides you with new skills and wider exposure.
This lends considerable weight to your resume and increases your credibility with prospective employers.
– Improve interpersonal skills: A lateral career move brings you in contact with a new team and a new boss. These changed dynamics will give you an opportunity to improve your social and interpersonal skills.
– Trauma of change: While a number of people believe in the dictum that some change is better than no change in life, many prefer the security of the known. Such people resist any kind of change in their lives and feel better off leading a secure though humdrum existence.
– Frustration of no promotion: Usually a change in position or job involves a promotion or raise in pay. Without these rewards or incentives, a lateral career move imposed by management may become a frustrating experience for most employees.
– Nostalgia for the old job: Many people find the new job extremely demanding and difficult to cope with. While they take time to acquire new skills and learn the ropes, they suffer the pangs of nostalgia.
– Damage to Image: When an employee is moved to a lateral position by management, it can create an impression in the minds of many that he/she has been penalized for inefficiency and lack of performance. This humiliates and mortifies employees and at times does irreparable damage to their public image.
However, by applying a little public relations and with the cooperation of the manager who made the decision to move the employee, there is still the opportunity that other employees will be able to see that the move was made not because of the employee’s failures in the previous position, but because of demonstrated strengths.
Take the above points into consideration when you’re deciding if you should make a lateral career move or not.