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Job change: 10 possible reasons for making a lateral move at work

Why might stepping aside be a smart career strategy?

Are you looking for a career change? Maybe in the market for a new job? Do you desire to move up in the world, and especially at work?

Changing jobs within your own company or by joining a different employer does not always mean making more money or climbing up the corporate ranks. However, even a lateral move can be advantageous for many reasons. Quite often, a sideways shift can eventually lead to several steps up.

Here are 10 possible reasons to make a strategic lateral career move, even if it means a small pay cut.

NOTE: Written by this author, this copyrighted material originally appeared on another publisher’s site. That site no longer exists. This author holds all rights to this content. No republication is allowed without permission.

1. Add to your professional network.

Contacts are keys to employment advancement, and a sideways step on the job can add considerably.

Corporate headhunter Nick Corcodilos puts it this way: “You need to be part of a circle of friends — people who do the work you want to do — that imbues you with a fine reputation.”

2. Gain marketable skills.

What makes a job candidate appealing to a prospective employer? Talent is valuable, but it’s only tested by trial, which comes with exposure. Escaping the daily grind through a sideways job change can lead to new opportunities for training and practicing additional abilities.

3. Build your resume.

Of course, every new skill set and career experience becomes a resume builder. Future employment prospects may not care so much that a previous career move was lateral as that it showed initiative and creativity.

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4. Enjoy better benefits.

A sideways step on the corporate ladder may result in increased perks, such as paid tuition or expense reimbursements. The job change might include additional training, better scheduling, more travel (or less travel), a window workspace, part-time telecommuting, on-site child care or a paid parking spot. Everything counts.

5. Gain job security.

Is your department subject to downsizing? Are the pink slips flying in your division? A lateral move may be the best way to keep on bringing home a steady paycheck.

6. Find an upward track within the company.

In most organizations, certain departments tend to offer dead-end positions, while others may open up easily toward upward mobility. Smart staffers will check internal job postings for strategic moves.

7. Hook up with a mentor.

Can you spot a senior staffer in your company, whose character and experience you respect? How might a lateral job change allow you to work for this valued expert? The training and future employment reference could prove golden in time.

“A mentor can help your career, whether it is how to navigate the political landscape or how to improve your performance,” explains Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, of Career Rocketeer.

On the other hand, an insecure, inept, unpleasant or unethical boss can be more than enough reason to seek a new position, even if the new slot does not count as an upward move. Who wants to work for a wannabee or a rogue riding roughshod over his or her staffers?

8. Escape an unpleasant job.

Do you dread going to work each day? Job dissatisfaction can wreak havoc one anyone’s daily life, particularly when it comes from legitimate problems in the workplace. Eventually, this ongoing negativity of experience or environment may drag a person down, even detracting from his or her own sense of excellence or productivity. How any anyone be his or her best, if work is a daily discouragement? And how might this condition affect that person’s life in general?

Sliding into a comparable, but friendlier, work slot may improve health and career advancement.

9. Build better boundaries.

Is your job extra stressful? Do department politics cause you unnecessary worry, or is management taking advantage of your good will? Often, a sideways move to a new division may be just what the doctor ordered to cut conflicts or to set stricter standards for personal and family time.

10. Seek fresh challenges.

A parallel job may offer interdisciplinary exposure, which can supercharge a professional career. Task forces and multi-departmental projects are prime examples of these turbo moves.

No one wants to be a daily drone, so it pays to evaluate employment continually. “Always take the time to assess what you want to do! Always,” counsels Career Sherpa’s Hannah Morgan.

In any job field, new responsibilities can prove stimulating, so a lateral change can be a big boost, even if it doesn’t lead immediately to a loftier professional title or a pay increase.

Adapted from public domain image.

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Smart is swell in the workplace

Playing dumb doesn’t work at work (or anywhere else, for that matter). OK, we get that. But is playing smart any wiser?

Career strategists and efficiency experts offer all sorts of clever techniques and tricks by which an individual may seem even smarter than he or she may actually be. Here are a few examples.

1. Dress tidily. Maybe appearances can be deceiving. We’ve all been warned against judging books by their covers, so to speak. But folks still make such snap decisions. Well-groomed spells brainy to many. Like it or not, that’s just how it is.

2. Demonstrate personal organization. Does a messy workstation reflect poorly on a person? Would onlookers consider such a one as less smart than another with a tidy workspace? Wrong or right, it just might.

A person doesn’t have to display a solved Rubik’s Cube, chess board, or Mensa membership card on his or her desk to make an enlightened impression. But clearing the clutter can help.

3. Stay up-to-date on current events. The idea is that scanning daily headlines (or online listings of news trends) may make a person more interesting in conversation, painting that person as being both educated, well-read, and informed.

4. Go for good grammar. Proper speech need not be stuffy, but it ought to reflect correct usage of language, if the speaker (or writer) is to create an intelligent impression. Spell- and grammar-check programs can kick in to kick one’s brainy credibility up a few notches.

5. Employ the internal editor. American humorist Mark Twain said, ““It's better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.” Maybe he was thinking of Proverbs 17:28, which says, “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” Either way, plenty of people seem smarter when they listen to their own internal filters.

6. Listening pays big dividends. Here’s another bonus from exercising the ears. Anyone who can pick up salient points from others’ comments can then tailor the ongoing communication accordingly. Did the prospective boss (or current manager or client or other key individual) just describe a weekend of paddleboarding, a seminar on conflict resolution, or a new market analysis? A savvy listener will keenly pick up on such details.

Perusing this list, a careful reader will likely realize that such techniques don’t really make someone appear much smarter, unless that person actually does possess some smarts in the first place. It takes a modicum of intelligence to practice these strategies authentically.

Appearances fall apart in time, if they aren’t backed by reality.

On the other hand, hosts of folks are a whole lot smarter than they likely believe. Maybe it’s time to start realizing that and practice owning one’s own intelligence.

Maybe self-talk is a good spot to start.

How about we stop using throw-away statements that demean our own smarts?

  • “I know this is gonna sound crazy, but …”
  • “I’d lose my head, if it wasn’t screwed on.”
  • “I’m not smart enough to handle this assignment.”
  • “I used to think I was smart, but now …”
  • “This is probably a dumb suggestion, but …”
  • “You’re a whole lot smarter than I am. What do you think about …?”

Hey, you’ve got the smarts, why apologize for them?

That’s not a license to boastfulness, but it is a push towards intellectual confidence. And that counts for plenty at work.

It’s just smart business.

Adapted from public domain image.

Feel free to follow on Google+ and Twitter. Please visit my Amazon author page as well.
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