A lateral move is when you transition to a new job that’s at the same level as your current position. Lateral moves can be beneficial to your career because they allow you to try something new without the pressure of having to prove yourself in a higher position.
Before you decide to make a lateral move, it’s important to do your research and ask the right questions. Here are a few questions to get you started.
38 Questions you should ask an employer before you decide to make a lateral move in your career:
- What’s the organization’s philosophy regarding lateral moves?
- What are the expectations for this role?
- What are the next steps for career growth within this role?
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?
- How does this role contribute to the team/company as a whole?
- What projects will I be working on in this role?
- Who will I work closely with in this role?
- How much autonomy will I have in this role?
- What’s the timeline for this role?
- Is this a new role or an existing one?
- If it’s an existing role, why is it open?
- How has the person in this role performed in the past?
- What’s the team’s recent history (wins, losses, changes, etc.)?
- How does the team currently feel about their work/projects?
- Who will be my direct report in this role?
- How frequently do my direct reports and I meet to discuss my progress and goals?
- Is there anything I need to do or know before starting this role (e.g., certification, training)?
- What are some challenges I may face while adjusting to this new role?
- Can you give me some names of people who have made successful lateral moves within the company?
- Can I ask them for advice/mentorship?
- What company policies should I be aware of before I start this role (e.g., PTO, expense reporting)?
- What does success look like in this role?
- How do I know if I’m meeting or exceeding expectations?
- Can I work from home or have flexible hours in this role?
- How much travel is required for this position?
- What’s the salary range for this position?
- What benefits and perks are associated with this role?
- How often do performance reviews occur and how are they conducted?
- What’s the process for a promotion or salary increase in this role?
- What are the expectations regarding overtime and working weekends?
- Are there any other requirements or expectations I should be aware of?
- What’s the team dynamic like at the company?
- Will I be expected to relocate for the new role?
- What’s the dress code at the company?
- What’s the company’s policy on telecommuting/flexible work arrangements?
- What’s the company’s policy on vacation and sick days?
- What’s the company culture like?
- How stable is the company?
32 Questions you should ask yourself when making a lateral move:
- What don’t you like about your current role?
- Is there anything specific you want to learn in your next role?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- What are your short-term career goals?
- How will this move help you achieve them?
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the role you’re considering?
- Do they align with what you’re looking for?
- Can you work with the team you’ll be joining?
- Do their values align with yours?
- What’s the company’s development culture like?
- Are they supportive of employees who want to expand their skills and take on new challenges?
- Is it a good time for you to make a move, both professionally and personally?
- What do you know about the department/team budget?
- What’s the overall morale like in the department/team?
- Have there been any recent leadership changes that might impact the role (or your relationship with it)?
- Is the department/team facing any challenges that might make this a difficult time to join them?
- How will your current manager react if you tell him/her you’re interested in making a move within the company or leaving the company altogether?
- Will he/she be supportive or stand in your way?
- Have you already spoken to someone in the department/team you’re interested in about the possibility of transferring?
- What did they tell you?
- Does the position fit what you’re striving for professionally and personally?
- What are your skills and strengths?
- How can you best utilize your skills and strengths in your current role?
- Are you challenged in your current role?
- If not, what kind of challenges would you like in your next role?
- What are the biggest pain points in your current role?
- Would a lateral move help alleviate any of these pain points?
- Do you have a good relationship with your direct supervisor?
- Do you feel that you have a good work-life balance?
- Would a lateral move help you better balance your work and personal life? In what way?
- What is the earning potential in your current role vs. the earning potential in the role you’re considering?
- Does the company you’re considering have room for upward mobility?
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of a lateral transfer?
A lateral transfer can have many benefits. You may be looking for a new challenge or want to move to another region of the country. A lateral move can also be a way to get promoted faster since you already have the skills and experience needed for the new job. In addition, if you’re unhappy in your current job, a lateral move can allow you to explore new opportunities without having to leave your company.
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.
How do you turn down a lateral job offer?
When turning down an offer for a lateral move, it’s important to be polite and professional. You should start by expressing your gratitude for the offer and then explain why you aren’t interested. Be honest and straightforward, but avoid sounding negative or unprofessional. Thank them for their time and wish them success in their search. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them before you end the conversation.
A lateral move can be a great way to gain new skills and experience without having to leave your current company (and possibly start from scratch at a new one). But before you make a decision, you should ask yourself and your potential team some questions to make sure it’s the right decision for you and that you’ll be successful in your new position.
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