95 Questions to Ask When Making a Lateral Move

Are you contemplating a sideways shuffle in your career dance? Making a lateral move when you switch lanes to a job that’s pretty much at the same level as your current one, but just in a different team or department. It’s like being a chess piece moving side to side—not up the board, but to a spot where you’ve got a fresh angle on the game.

But before you leap across the corporate jungle gym, arm yourself with questions that dig deep. Let’s walk through key queries to not just survive but thrive in a new role—ensuring it’s not just a hop to the side but a strategic step towards your grand career vision.

Career Progression and Development

  1. Will this lateral move provide me with new skills relevant to my career goals?
  2. Is there a clear career path following this move?
  3. Can I count on mentorship or professional development opportunities in the new position?
  4. Does this move align with my long-term career aspirations?
  5. How will this move be perceived by future employers?
  6. What new responsibilities will I be taking on?
  7. Are there opportunities for leadership in this new role?
  8. Will I receive the necessary training to succeed?
  9. How does this role contribute to the overall success of the company?
  10. Is there a potential for upward mobility from this position?
  11. Will this move expand my professional network?
  12. Does the team I’ll be moving to have a good track record of growth and success?
  13. How often are performance reviews conducted?
  14. What is the success rate for others who have made similar moves?
  15. Will I have the chance to work on projects that I am passionate about?
  16. Does the new department have the resources I need to excel?
  17. Are there any recent examples of someone growing within the company from this position?
  18. What are the biggest challenges I will face in this new role?
  19. Will this lateral move increase my visibility within the company?
  20. How does the company support continuous learning and education?

Cultural Fit and Work Environment

  1. What is the company culture like in the new department?
  2. How does the management style in the new team align with my preferences?
  3. Are the company values in line with my personal values?
  4. Can you describe the team dynamics I will be joining?
  5. What is the diversity and inclusion policy in this new role?
  6. How are conflicts typically resolved here?
  7. What is the typical workday like in the new department?
  8. Does the new team encourage innovation and creativity?
  9. How is success celebrated within the team?
  10. Are there any team-building or social events that promote bonding?
  11. What are the common traits of successful employees in this new environment?
  12. How transparent is leadership about changes and decisions?
  13. What kind of support system is in place for new employees?
  14. How does the team handle work pressure and stress?
  15. Is there a lot of cross-department collaboration?
  16. How would you describe the work pace in this new role?
  17. What are three things that you would change about the current work environment?
  18. What makes someone a good cultural fit for this team?
  19. Can I speak with a potential peer to understand their perspective on the work culture?
  20. How do the company and management support work-life balance?

Compensation and Benefits Comparison

  1. Will my salary be adjusted to reflect the new responsibilities?
  2. How do the benefits of the new role compare to my current benefits?
  3. Are there different bonus opportunities in this new position?
  4. Is there an employee stock purchase plan available after the move?
  5. Are there any changes to retirement plans or matching contributions?
  6. Is the vacation and PTO policy different in this new role?
  7. How does the new department approach overtime and compensatory time off?
  8. Are there perks specific to this department, like wellness programs or continuing education?
  9. Will this move affect my health insurance plan or providers?
  10. Does the company offer relocation assistance if necessary?
  11. What are the differences in travel expectations and reimbursements?
  12. Are there opportunities for flexible working, such as remote work or flex-time?
  13. Does this role offer life or disability insurance benefits?
  14. Are there any unique benefits that come with this new position that I currently do not have?
  15. How does the company assist with professional certifications or further education?
  16. Can you explain the performance review and raise cycles?
  17. Are there options for transit or parking subsidies?
  18. Is there any loss in benefits during the probationary period of the new role, if applicable?
  19. What is the company’s long-term financial health, and how does it impact compensation?
  20. Are there any costs related to the move that I should consider?

Work-Life Balance Impact

  1. Will the expectations for work hours change with this move?
  2. Are there any changes to remote work opportunities or the need to be on-premises?
  3. Is there a significant difference in commute time or flexibility in work locations?
  4. Will taking this position require more extensive travel or a change in travel patterns?
  5. Does the company provide resources or support for stress management?
  6. How is overtime typically handled within the new department?
  7. Will there be an impact on my ability to take time off for family or personal reasons?
  8. Are there any policies that facilitate a better balance, like a four-day workweek?
  9. Does the team have core working hours, or is there flexibility?
  10. Are there any current employees I can speak with about their experience balancing work and life?
  11. How are emergencies or unexpected life events accommodated?
  12. Does the new role allow for career breaks or sabbaticals, if needed?
  13. Will I be required to be “on-call” outside of standard work hours?
  14. How often would I need to check in or be available during vacations/holidays?
  15. Does the new department have a reputation for working late or longer hours?
  16. How are parental leave policies different in the new role compared to my current position?
  17. Is workload and time management considered in performance evaluations?

Transition Logistics and Timelines

  1. What is the expected timeline for making this transition?
  2. Who will be responsible for my current projects once I move?
  3. Will there be an overlap period to ensure a smooth transition?
  4. How will my responsibilities be transitioned to someone else in my current role?
  5. Is there an established process for transferring institutional knowledge?
  6. Can I expect a formal onboarding process within the new department?
  7. Are there any deadlines or projects needing immediate attention upon my arrival?
  8. How is information shared between the team I am leaving and the team I am joining?
  9. What documentation will I need to provide or complete for this move?
  10. Are there systems or tools unique to the new department that I’ll need to learn?
  11. Is there someone who will act as my guide or mentor during the initial phase?
  12. How will my performance be measured during the transition period?
  13. How are successes and challenges during the transition communicated to management?
  14. Will a review or feedback session be conducted after the transition to assess how it went?
  15. Who will be my direct supervisor, and how will that relationship begin?
  16. Are there any legal or HR considerations I should know before making the move?
  17. Is there any support for dealing with logistical challenges, like moving offices?
  18. Will my move require a change in any of my professional memberships or associations?

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I consider before making a lateral move in my career?

Before making a lateral move, consider whether the new position aligns with your long-term career goals, how it will affect your work-life balance, and understand the implications it may have on your compensation and benefits. 

Reflect on the cultural fit and work environment, as well as the professional development opportunities that come with the move.

What is the difference between a lateral move and a promotion?

With a lateral move, you switch jobs within the same industry but at a different company. With a promotion, you switch jobs and move up in rank or position within the same company.

The main difference between a lateral move and a promotion is that a lateral move doesn’t necessarily come with a salary increase, while a promotion almost always does. Also, a promotion usually comes with more responsibility and new challenges. If you want to advance in your career, you should aim for a promotion rather than a lateral move.

What’s the best way to approach my current supervisor about my interest in making a lateral move?

Open and honest communication is vital. Explain your interest in the lateral move in terms of your career development and how the new role aligns with your skills and aspirations. Show appreciation for your current role and express your desire to continue contributing to the company’s success.

What are the benefits of a lateral transfer?

A lateral transfer can be beneficial for:

  • Expanding skills in new areas.
  • Gaining fresh perspectives with different roles.
  • Increasing networking with new colleagues.
  • Reinvigorating your career if you’re feeling stuck.
  • Improving job satisfaction by matching better with your values.
  • Enhancing work-life balance with potential for a better fit.
  • Opening up future career opportunities for advancement.
  • Understanding the company better across different departments.

Final Thoughts

These are the nitty-gritty questions that’ll turn your lateral move into a smart, savvy play in the game of your career. Making a move isn’t just about a change of scenery; it’s about ensuring every step, even the sideways ones, takes you to a place where you can grow, thrive, and achieve your dreams.

Remember, success isn’t always about climbing up; sometimes, it’s about moving right where the opportunities are ripe for the picking. So, ponder these questions, grab the reins tight, and steer your career toward that sweet spot where satisfaction and opportunity meet. Here’s to making moves that matter!

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Robby is a multimedia editor at Enlightio with a journalism and communications background. When she's not working, Robby transforms into an introverted art lover who indulges in her love for sports, learning new things, and sipping her favorite soda. She also enjoys unwinding with feel-good movies, books, and video games. She's also a proud pet parent to her beloved dog, Dustin.