Are you going up? Sometimes, you don’t have to be promoted to get a better job or advance in your career. A sideways move can be just as valuable and get you to where you want to go faster.
Many jobs have a clear career path. It often looks like this for a project manager. You will start as a project manager, and then move on to managing larger projects. Then you will become a program manger, which, according to Arras People salary survey data, pays more.
Assuming that we are continuing with the project management example, some would argue that there is a clear family of project manager job titles. Program management and project management are two different skills sets. Program management is not always the natural progression. Most people would view more money as a way to climb the career ladder or to get promoted at work.
Moving up is not the only option when it comes to changing jobs. Sideways moves can also be very profitable.
There are reasons to stop promoting
Martha Finney, coauthor of Unlocking the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps for a Successful Job Search when Times are Tough, says that there are more reasons to make a lateral move than to accept promotion.
Martha lists these as incentives to go sideways:
“You love your boss but don’t love the company.”
You love the company and want the opportunity to grow your skills and experience to make you more valuable in the corporate track.
You love the company, but you recognize that the days may be numbered in this particular business unit. You want to move to a more promising area.
You love the company, but you see that lateral moves are the only way to stay.
The lateral move is part a formalized developmental program that you can trust.
Sideways moves are when you take on a similar job to the one you have in your current company. You should always read the job description to ensure you are able to understand the responsibilities and make sure it is a good fit for you.
Nancy Mellard is the executive vice president and general counsel of CBIZ Benefits & Insurance. She says, “I define lateral career movements as when you can take over a new department or project, people, or responsibilities.” These moves should always be made,” she says.
Diane Youden, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers specializing in HR effectiveness, agrees that moving sideways can be advantageous. She explains that more senior roles require the ability “without a doubt” to quickly assess a wide range of situations and their effect on the business strategy.
“Experience is the best ‘training’ to broaden your perspective and allow you to think more holistically.
You want to make sure that if you take on a job that is going to move you in a different direction, it will also help your career.
Youden says, “Ensure that the lateral movement is seen as an enhancement of your career.” “Companies are looking for the talent of the future and attributes such as adaptability, flexibility and ability to deal with change and new situations will be key to being considered in senior roles.”
Project managers are able to adapt to new situations and take on new challenges with every project. It is important to understand the difference between taking on similar projects in the same company and switching companies to perform a similar job.
You will be able to show your diversity and breadth of experience by learning about the culture and processes of a different company.
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