Accounting Career Tips: The Pros and Cons of a Lateral Move


Lateral moves. Why is it that those two words make us think that we’re throwing in the promotional towel, or that our organization doesn’t believe in us? While there are some cons to a lateral move, there are also pros. Here’s why a lateral move could be a good thing for your accounting career.

Understand Why
You’re hoping for a promotion, and instead get offered a lateral move. Does this mean that your company doesn’t see you in a higher role? Not necessarily. It could be that downsizing is coming and your organization is seeking to protect its best employees. It could be that you’re being prepared for a different kind of job, one that requires you to build your skill set in another direction. It’s not unreasonable to ask why your manager feels you’d be suitable for the role he/she is proposing.

Pro #1: Networking
One of the myths about a lateral move is that you’ll lose contacts from your previous position. This is not true, as more and more companies require accountants to interact cross-functionally. Instead, view a lateral move as an opportunity to grow your network.  A larger network means a greater chance of hearing about upcoming openings.

Pro #2: Increased Marketability
Gaining new skills increases your marketability. For example, a lateral move in a larger organization allows you to gain actual business unit experience, rather than just corporate experience. This not only makes you more attractive to your current organization, but also to recruiters and headhunters.

Pro #3: Job Security
The more things you can do and the more people you know, the more secure your job is.

Pro #4: Adaptability
Showing a new manager or team that you can take on additional challenges and deliver builds your resume. Increasingly, employers are looking for people who are adaptable and resilient. Certainly this research would support that trend. Good employees are highly self-motivated, strong communicators and very adaptable.

Con #1: Goal
Perhaps you’ve established some specific career goals and a lateral move just isn’t getting you any closer.

Read: To learn about the myths associated with lateral moves read, “Why Lateral Moves are Good Moves.”

Con #2: Perception
What is your corporate culture? How would a lateral move be perceived? This speaks to determining why the lateral move was offered in the first place.

Con #3: Money
We always talk about following the learning, not the money, but if you’re looking for the salary increase that comes with the promotion, it’s unlikely that a lateral move will offer you increased financial compensation.

Read: To learn how to ask for a raise read, “Tips from Finance Recruiters: How to Ask for a Raise.”

Key Takeaways
There are both pros and cons to a lateral move. Certainly a lateral move can offer you an opportunity to broaden your skill set and your network. It can provide a measure of job security during times of downsizing and make you more attractive to outside recruiters and headhunters. And while it may feel that it’s taking you away from your career goal, the truth is that adaptable people are the ones who are most often successful. Ultimately, how important is the money and the job title? If the answer is “very important” and you can’t see the benefits of a lateral move, then make a choice that reflects that value system. If, on the other hand, you can see a lateral move as an opportunity, then embrace this chance and run with it.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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