Guest Post by Mark Feffer, JobsinRI

Beverly Kaye, Founder, Career Systems International has been talking about Up Is NOT the Only Way since the ‘80’s when she wrote her first book by that same name. In this guest post, Mark Feffer, reinforces the point that up is still not the only way.

While talented employees usually want to advance, the needs of the company don’t always make a promotion possible. Sometimes the opportunity you can offer involves a lateral move – a new job in a different department or business unit, working with a new team and perhaps new technology, with responsibilities that are different from, but not higher than, what the employee has done in the past.

For ambitious workers, a lateral move can be disappointing. These are the people who see their career path as a ladder, offering a steady path of upward progress. When presented with the opportunity to take on new responsibilities without the increased prestige and money that come along with a promotion, their reaction may be one of disappointment and skepticism.

Such reactions are natural, but they can be overcome. Most any move offers the chance to build new skills, work with new people, and make a new contribution to the company. The value of these things is evident when an employee takes a long-term view.

When given the opportunity to encourage a talented employee to take a lateral move, here are four things to point out.

It Will Broaden Your Experience

Taking a job in a new department provides employees with the opportunity to immerse themselves in a new area of the business. That means they’ll learn new skills, develop fresh approaches to business problems, and gain a new appreciation for how other areas of the company operate. All of these are good things for someone who hopes to be promoted, since managers invariably look for a well-rounded skill set and the ability to understand different aspects of the business when they’re considering whether to move someone up.

It Will Challenge You

A new job offers the chance to stretch. It’s sure to involve technology and processes that are unfamiliar and may require formal training. Existing skills will be put to new use, and the employee’s business knowledge can be applied to a new set of problems. All of this means the employee will have the opportunity to press the limits of their comfort zone.

You’ll Gain Visibility

Moving into a new department will introduce the employee to new people across a range of functions, allowing them to greatly expand their professional network. As important, they’ll have the chance to show off their expertise to colleagues who’ve never seen them work before. Both of these things can pay off down the road as they tackle new projects and gain increased responsibilities.

You’ll Be Helping the Company

The company is offering this job because it has a need, and you may believe the employee represents the best solution. Taking the position demonstrates a commitment to the company’s interests, which looks good to both management and co-workers, now and down the road.

Lateral moves can open new doors to employees who are dedicated, smart, and interested in expanding their horizons. By pointing out the long-term career benefits, you can help them overcome any hesitation and position themselves for success.


Mark Feffer has written, edited and produced hundreds of articles on careers, personal finance and technology. His work has appeared on, as well as on other top sites. He is currently writing for, the top local resource for job seekers, employers and recruiters in Rhode Island.