career move

The Lateral Career Move: Why It’s Worth the Effort

Have you encountered a log-jam in your business channel? Do you feel that you have outgrown your current position? As I write this, the economy brings uncertainty with it… which is why this might just be time for a lateral career move.  Your new position may not be for more pay… but in the long run, you will be happier if you’re not bored or pigeon-holed into one area of expertise.

Moving to avoid or alleviate stress

Sometimes you just don’t sync with your boss or even your boss’s boss. Ask yourself if it would be worth changing jobs to work for someone else. This can make your work day more pleasant and your mind less stressed when you are off the clock. If despite all effort, you simply do not know how to please your boss or be on the same page, then a lateral career move seems pretty straight forward. It is not worth the stress to work for someone that you have tried repeatedly to work with but cannot. And this can be no-one’s fault. Sometimes personalities and/or workstyles simply do not meld. It’s better to move on than to make both of your lives miserable, or to struggle against the grain each day just to bring home a paycheck.

Moving with the changing times

I have friends that have been in the same position with the same company for over ten years. Though there is something to be said of job stability, the changing times bring changing priorities. Who is to say that such careers will go on indefinitely? Many companies are going “leaner” these days – eliminating positions entirely, consolidating job responsibilities so that one person may be responsible for many more tasks than previously known. If you’re concerned about job stability, a lateral career move will put you ahead of the game by allowing you to get new skills under your belt that may make you a hot commodity for another position, maybe even with another firm. Don’t pass up the chance to move sideways and, in doing so, broaden your horizons and make yourself even more marketable than before.

Moving to exercise your brain

Another reason to change positions and make a lateral career move: you do not feel challenged in your current job. In all of us, there is an inert need to continue growing and challenging our minds. If the only changes in your job are employee turnover and the new rules set out by HR, then it might be time to start doing something else. Maybe it’s a career move in your own company.  Maybe it’s doing the same job with a different company. Or, maybe, just maybe, it’s a completely different career path. Any way that you look at it, changing things up in your career will open new doors and bring new challenges and opportunities.

Moving to provide for your family

The lateral career move decision might also be simply for your family. If you and your spouse believe that the only way for your children to get an education is in the public school system and you do not feel comfortable with your public schools, it might be time to move to a new city. Whether it’s to someplace nearby, or to someplace farther away but with a better cost of living, this could open up options that you had not before considered. Or you could be in a financial bind at the moment. If you feel that a move to a more cost effective area could benefit your family now and in the long run, the option of taking a lateral move might be in the cards.

Move to avoid not moving

In both government and corporate jobs, sometimes a “log jam” to get to the next level is so tight that it makes more sense to make a lateral move. I’ve talked to many people both professionally or personally that have had to make this career move. Especially if you really enjoy your job, it can be difficult to see the big picture. But if you’ve always seen yourself in a position much higher than the one that you currently occupy, it really does make sense to review your options. Corporations post jobs publicly, as does the government. Be sure to speak with people who are experienced in the field you’re interested in pursuing. It can really help in your decision making process.

Whether you’re entertaining the idea of a lateral career move or have already decided to pursue an opportunity, be sure to weigh all of your options. Take care not to burn any bridges… and make sure that above all else, you’re doing this for your personal benefit as well as for the betterment of you family and your future.

Have you made a lateral career move? We would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

About the writer: this article was written by David B. Bohl – Husband, Father, Friend, Lifestyle Coach, Author, Entrepreneur, and creator of Slow Down FAST.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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