Moving laterally is a good idea when your career path is not likely to take a straight path to the top. Many companies have had to flatten their hierarchies, making it necessary for many people to consider moving laterally in order to get the experience and new skills necessary to get a promotion, either within that company or with an outside organization. Here are some tips if you’re in such a position.
First, your lateral moves should not happen haphazardly. You need a plan. Think about the different ways your career path could benefit from lateral moves. You need to be in charge of deciding which types of lateral moves could enhance your career. Your employer is not going to make those choices for you, so it’s important that you can see which types of moves could further your career.
Think about which position you ultimately want and determine which qualifications you need to successfully apply for it. Determine the specific skill sets you will need to be called to interview for the position and then to land it. Then determine which lateral moves you could make to gain that experience and knowledge.
As you determine what skill sets you need to gain, you’ll next have to decide which steps you can take to educate yourself in those areas. For example, if you want to become a department manager when you’re currently a project manager, you might need to network outside your department more so that others are aware of what you can do. This outside networking can show clients that you can get work done and increase growth. In this situation, it makes sense to do a short-term rotation or to develop relationships with other roles and departments, perhaps working on a project outside your department to provide the exposure you need.
Additionally, try to volunteer for projects outside your main area of work. This expands your influence and builds your skills. Keep learning, and stay focused on the ultimate goal. Your lateral moves will help you reach your ultimate career goal in the end.