Lateral Move vs Vertical Move: Which is right for you?

In the ever-changing career landscape, we often stand at crossroads, pondering: Lateral or Vertical? Your choices shape your career. Join Recruitery as we delve into the nuances of lateral moves vs vertical moves, and provide insights to help individuals make informed decisions.

Why Lateral Moves and Vertical Moves Are Important

Both lateral moves and vertical moves can be important for career advancement. Lateral moves can help you gain new skills and experience, while vertical moves can help you increase your salary and responsibility.

Lateral Move 

Lateral Moves and Vertical Moves

In the realm of career transitions, let's start by examining the dynamics of "Lateral Moves" and their potential impact on your professional journey.

1. Definition and Explanation

A lateral move involves transitioning to a role or position at the same hierarchical level or job rank within an organization. It often entails a shift in responsibilities and may or may not involve a change in department or function.

2. Benefits of Lateral Moves

Lateral Moves and Vertical Moves

There are many benefits to lateral moves. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Skill Development: Lateral moves foster skill diversification. For instance, if you're a software engineer, transitioning to roles in different software development areas, such as machine learning or artificial intelligence, allows you to acquire new skills and technologies, enhancing your marketability.

  • Networking: Lateral moves provide opportunities to expand your professional network within the organization. As a marketing manager, if you make a move to a different department, like sales or customer service, you'll interact with people from various segments of the company, gaining exposure to diverse perspectives and connections.

  • Fresh Perspective: Lateral moves can provide a fresh perspective on your current role or industry. Consider a customer service representative shifting to departments like product development or marketing. This opens doors to contribute to new products and have a greater company-wide impact.

3. Drawbacks of Lateral Moves

While lateral moves offer many benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to consider. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Limited Promotions: They may not lead to immediate promotions or salary increases.

  • Perceived Stagnation: Some lateral moves can be seen as a lack of upward mobility.

  • Risk of Misalignment: A lateral move might not align with your long-term career goals.

4. When should you consider a lateral move?

If you're contemplating a lateral move, consider these factors:

  • Are you open to change and new opportunities?

  • Does the new role align with your skills and experience?

  • Prepare for the potential of a salary adjustment.

Vertical Move

Lateral Moves and Vertical Moves

Now, let's delve into "Vertical Moves" and explore how climbing the corporate ladder can shape your career and aspirations.

1. Definition and Explanation

A vertical move involves transitioning to a role with higher responsibilities and authority within an organization. It typically means climbing up the corporate ladder or hierarchy.

2. Benefits of Vertical Moves

There are several benefits to vertical moves:

  • Advancement: Vertical moves lead to promotions, salary increases, and enhanced prestige. E.g., a software engineer's shift from junior to senior engineer typically results in a 10-20% salary increase.

  • Leadership Experience: Vertical moves develop leadership and decision-making skills. E.g., a marketing manager's transition to director of marketing grants responsibility for a larger team and budget.

  • Achieving Career Goals: Vertical moves are ideal for those aiming at top-tier executive roles, such as CEO, CFO, or CMO. Sequential vertical moves can pave the path to these aspirations.

3. Drawbacks of Vertical Moves

Vertical moves also have a few drawbacks, including:

  • Increased Pressure: Vertical moves often come with increased responsibility and pressure.

  • Risk of Burnout: Rapid career advancement can lead to burnout if not managed well.

  • Limited Exposure: Focusing solely on vertical moves may limit your exposure to different aspects of the business.

4. When to Consider Vertical Moves

Vertical moves are a suitable option when:

  • You have a clear desire for career advancement and are ready for the responsibilities that come with it.

  • Achieving your long-term career goals requires climbing the corporate ladder.

Comparison and Analysis

Let's compare lateral and vertical career moves to help you make the right choice for your career path.

1. Current Scenario: Assessing Lateral and Vertical Moves

Evaluate your current situation, considering your skills, needs, and career stage. Determine whether you require a change in responsibilities or skill development. For instance, a lateral move can be an effective way to relieve immediate job pressure without immediate promotions.

2. Future Impact: Long-term Career Consequences

Assess long-term effects on job satisfaction, work-life balance, and personal growth in relation to your career goals. Lateral moves favor work-life balance, while vertical moves fast-track advancement and leadership.

Which is right for you?

Lateral Moves and Vertical Moves

The choice between a lateral or vertical move is highly personal. There's no one-size-fits-all answer; it hinges on your unique circumstances and aspirations.

Here are a few factors to consider when making your decision:

  • Career Goals: Consider your short-term and long-term career objectives. A vertical move is suitable for climbing the corporate ladder, while a lateral move offers new challenges and opportunities, suitable if you're not prepared for increased responsibility.

  • Skills and Experience: Ensure you possess the necessary skills for the new role. Seek guidance from a career counselor or mentor if uncertain about your qualifications.

  • Personal Circumstances: Feeling burned out or dissatisfied? Lateral or vertical moves can provide a fresh start. If you're content and not seeking change, consider staying put.

Here are some additional tips for making your decision:

  • Research: Prior to deciding, conduct thorough research on the new role and company. Informed decisions are key.

  • Seek Advice: Connect with individuals who have made similar moves for valuable insights on the advantages and disadvantages of lateral and vertical transitions.

  • Embrace Change: Be ready for change, embracing new opportunities and a willingness to learn.


In conclusion, choosing between lateral vs vertical career transitions is a pivotal decision that can shape your professional journey. By thoroughly understanding the dynamics of lateral and vertical career moves and their implications in this Recruitery's guide, you can make confident decisions that will benefit your career growth and personal satisfaction.