Making a Move: Taking Control of Your Career Direction

The Great Resignation—or as companies call it, The Great Reshuffle—occurred just last year. 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs to move to other companies or to other industries entirely. If you’re thinking about doing the same, whether you are one of the 93% still looking for your dream career or simply just looking for better benefits and pay, here are the things you need to know.

Making a Move

There are many different types of career moves you can make. You can move vertically in your career, laterally in your career, or diagonally in your career. You can also move to a different career and industry entirely. Each type of move has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Vertical Career Move

A vertical career move is when you move up in your current career within the same organization. For example, if you are a software engineer, a vertical career move would be to become a senior software engineer or a software engineering manager.

Since you will be staying in the same organization, some advantages associated with a vertical career move are that you usually don’t have to relocate, you already know the company culture, you already have relationships within the company, and you usually don’t have to learn new skills. It also usually comes with a slightly bigger salary.

The disadvantages of a vertical career move are that there may not be room for advancement in your current company, you may get bored doing the same thing, and your salary may not increase in proportion to the increasing amount of responsibility.

Lateral Career Move

A lateral career move is when you stay in the same field and level but change companies. This is also known as horizontal movement or sideways movement. For example, if you are a software engineer at Company A, a lateral move would be to become a software engineer at Company B.

The advantages of a lateral career move are that you can meet new people and potentially get a higher salary, especially if you were poached or headhunted. The disadvantages of a lateral career move are that you may have to relocat and adapt to a new company culture. Often, you do not have the opportunity to learn new skills, since you will be doing nearly the same things. In addition, you do not gain much in terms of responsibility. Still, this is the best move you can make if there are no opportunities for vertical movement in your past organization or if you are trying to branch off into another direction in the same industry.

Diagonal Career Move

A diagonal career move is when you change both your job and your company. For example, you are a software engineer in Company A, but you take an offer to be a senior software engineer in Company B.

The advantages of a diagonal career move are that you can learn new things, meet new people, get a significantly higher salary, and have a more interesting job. The disadvantages of diagonal moves are that they usually require more training or education, they may require relocating, and you may have to learn new skills. Depending on what industry you work in, diagonal career moves may be easier or harder. It also happens more often among lower-to-middle level roles, especially among startups. Once you reach the higher levels of management, it is much easier to shift laterally and then upward instead of going for a diagonal move in one swoop.

A man in a business suit going up a set of stairs, symbolizing the journey to success

Changing Careers and Industries

Changing careers and industries is a huge undertaking, but it’s not unheard of. The people who do this are usually people who have become disillusioned with their current career, were forced to change careers due to obsoletion or other factors, or have fallen in love with another industry and want to pursue their passion.

You may be asking yourself, “Is changing my career a good idea?” The doubt is understandable, as changing careers and moving to a different industry can be a scary proposition. However, there are many advantages to doing so. If your primary reason for making this move is that you have found your passion, then the biggest advantage is that you get to do what you love for a living. On the other hand, if you were forced to another career because of obsoletion, then one advantage is that you get to keep making a living and you may end up discovering something to be passionate about.

Another advantage of changing careers and industries is that you often get to learn new things. This can be in the form of learning new skills or learning about a new field. For example, if you were a software engineer and you decide to move to the pharmaceutical industry, you would be learning about the pharmaceutical industry, the regulations around it, how drugs are developed, etc. This can be an extremely enriching experience that can help you in your current or future career. In addition, your experience and knowledge from another industry will give you a unique perspective into the industry you are entering.

The disadvantages of changing careers and industries are mainly financial. Often, you will make less money in your new career or industry than you did in your previous one. This is because your past experience may not be relevant, and you may be considered an entry-level applicant. You may also have to relocate, which can be expensive. Additionally, you may have to learn new skills, which can be time-consuming and costly. If your past experience is not considered relevant, you will have to spend money and energy into getting degrees and certifications as evidence of your capabilities.

Final Thoughts

When considering making any type of career move—vertical, lateral, or diagonal—there are many things to keep in mind such as whether or not you’ll have to relocate; if the job will require learning new skills; how the salary compares; and if the job is interesting to you. Weighing the pros and cons of each type of move will help ensure that you make the best decision for your particular situation. Just remember: the journey to success is not a straight slope, it’s a three-dimensional maze. It doesn’t matter if you get there first or last, what’s important is that you keep making your way!

Share this:
Scroll to Top