What are horizontal career moves?
Many people associate career growth with climbing the corporate ladder. They think growth means getting promoted to their boss’s level and then moving up from there. However, growth could also mean moving to another department, a new role within your department or a similar position at a different company. This is what’s known as a horizontal career move.
An employee in social media marketing might, for example, apply for a job in media buying or public relations within the same company. This would allow them to apply some of their same general competencies while learning a new skill set in a role they might enjoy a little more.
Similarly, an employee might leave a small company and work for a large enterprise with the same job title. By working for a different firm and potentially in a different industry, the employee would gain broader expertise.
Benefits of horizontal career moves
There are several reasons to pursue horizontal career moves — especially when you are starting out in your career. Here are a few reasons why these moves may be more valuable to you:
- Learn new skills — Gain experience working with different teams and building your experience within the company.
- Find a job you love — By exploring different positions, you take steps to find a career path you are passionate about.
- Become a better job candidate — You can apply to a more diverse range of job postings by growing your skills.
- Prepare for vertical moves — Learning about the different aspects of a department is key if you hope to lead within the company someday.
Horizontal moves can also potentially increase your value within an organization. They show that you are committed to staying with a company and are open to job changes as needed.
Disadvantages of horizontal career moves
While a horizontal move has many benefits, there are also potential drawbacks. One issue may be pay. A horizontal change might not bring the pay increase that taking a position higher up the organizational chart would. However, if you consider a horizontal move an investment in your future, you could potentially see pay increases as your career grows.
How to implement a horizontal career path
Horizontal career moves require you to know where you want to go. You also need to prove to others that you have the skills for the job — or the willingness to build them. Here are a few steps to take:
- Look at internal job boards — Check for postings of open positions you are interested in.
- See which skills the job requires — Look for ways to build your skills or transfer the knowledge you have.
- Talk to people within your organization — Let them know you are interested in what they do. Consider shadowing them for a day if you have the opportunity.
You can also talk to your manager about other opportunities within the company. This shows your willingness to be transparent about your career growth. Your boss might be able to help you set priorities and provide training opportunities or recommend you for the new position.