Making a Lateral Move

By Paula Santonocito

Your career objective is to become vice president of human resources. Over the years, you have held a number of HR managerial positions, including employee relations manager and head of employee communications. You are currently Midwest regional director of employee recruitment. One HR area where you don’t have experience is benefits administration.

Nevertheless, because you’re an HR star, you’ve been offered a position as benefits manager. Your company will provide the necessary training. The job doesn’t pay any more than you’re currently making. What’s more, there’s a chance that as the economy heats up and the company follows through on hiring plans, you could become head of employee recruitment for North America, which would be a promotion. Should you make a lateral move?

The benefits job puts you on a path toward acquiring the necessary qualifications to become VP of HR; another recruitment position, even a promotion, does not.

Quick Assessment

Is there a sure-fire method for deciding when a lateral move makes sense? Glad you asked.

If a position will allow you to acquire new skills, additional responsibility, and/or new experiences (like working in an industry that interests you), then it’s usually a good move.

In times of downsizing, when the company is eliminating your job or department and offers you a comparable position in another area, it may also be wise to make a lateral move, at least temporarily.

The Personal Piece

Lateral moves can further your career. They can also enhance your personal life.

If a lateral move allows you to work from home on a full- or part-time basis and you’re a single mother with young children, the job offers you new personal options, and perhaps a chance to save money on childcare.

Similarly, if a lateral move means a new location that’s closer to home, you could save on commuting costs, and have more free time.

When weighing the benefits of a lateral move, be sure to look at how the new position could potentially enhance your career long-term, as well as how it might improve your personal life. If the impact on both is positive, you’ve got a rare opportunity to move forward, regardless of the job title or financial compensation.

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