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How to Request a Lateral Job Move in Your Company

A lateral move is a career positioning tactic. It occurs when an employee changes to an equivalent job in an organization, typically for similar pay and a job title at the same level. It’s a sideways move, not a promotion.

Until the last half-dozen years, the good life in the corporate world was achieved with only one direction: up. Ambitious people went “up or out.” Now that lateral movement has become a viable career tactic, you can say that “over joins up.” The ladder of yesteryear has morphed into a lattice.

The lateral tactic has special advantages for middle managers. A manager who’s had cross-training has a leg up on understanding how multiple departments function and interact with each other and is primed for top management.

What’s in a lateral move for you? The following quartet of situations unveils some of the most popular reasons:

  • You require additional skills for your target position and need a “feeder” job to beef up your qualifications.

  • Your work is being outsourced, but you want to remain in the company.

  • You’re in school and can’t handle the stress of a promotion at this time.

  • You’re at war with your boss and seek an escape.

Before writing your statement asking for a lateral slot, hop online to read the excellent article “How to Make a Smart Lateral Career Move,” by Jena McGregor, Fortune Management.

Right things to say in a lateral job move request

Keep the following points in mind when preparing your statement:

  • Show appreciation for what the company has done for you already. Mention specific considerations, kind acts, and your promotions.

  • Explain why you’re applying for a lateral position. Perhaps you’re preparing for future career progression and you’ll be even more valuable to your company after you hone your talent package in the XYZ function.

  • Mention your competencies and skills that will be lost to the company if you’re forced to work for another company: “My performance reviews have recognized my accomplishments and expertise in [list in bullet form]. I really want to continue my record of job excellence within this company.”

  • If your reason for a lateral move in another locale is actually a personal transfer request (perhaps a member in your family is ill, and the treatment center is in a city where your company also has a facility, or your spouse has been transferred to another locale), say so and offer a written plan for the transition.

    Close with a simple assurance that you recognize that the company would be doing you a favor:

    You have known me to be conscientious and reliable. I hope we can work together to effect a smooth transition that meets both of our needs. Thank you for your consideration.

Wrong thing to say in a lateral job move request

In explaining your itch to switch sideways, don’t focus on what you want — keep the focus on what the company wants.

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