Lateral Transfers: 5 Tips for Making Your Move


If a change is as good as a rest, a lateral move at work might be the answer for a tired career.

Careful planning is key for making sure you’re considered for the position.

Develop relationships with workers in the target area

Randall Craig, author of the career planning book Personal Balance Sheet, points out that this will help you determine if the climate in the new department is appealing to you or not. Plus, these new contacts can alert you when openings come up.

Increase your knowledge

Courses, periodicals or books, and the Internet are great sources of information about your new area of interest. Being familiar with the issues and the jargon will help prepare you for the interview – and the job.

Involve your current manager

If your interest in a lateral move stems from a curiosity about another department and not from difficulties in your current one, Craig recommends talking to your manager about your career goals. Explain how the transfer you have in mind might improve your future opportunities and how you would appreciate their support. Also, by alerting your manager in advance, you give him or her time to deal with issues that could otherwise prevent the transfer, such as staff shortages or workload management.

Bridge the gap between old and new

Allan Bacon, motivational speaker and author of Get Unstuck – Find Your Calling, says keeping the communication lines open are key to a successful lateral move. When the company he worked for merged with another, he had the chance to move from the marketing department to the transition team at the new head office. To prepare his application, he made a list of the ways he could contribute to the company’s priorities and discussed the position with both his manager and the transition team leader. Finally, he volunteered to mentor his replacement.

Be prepared for politics

Office politics can be complex. Your former colleagues may resent you for leaving them with a heavy workload, or your new colleagues may be jealous that you got the job. “You have to rise above politics.” says Sue Rosson, executive coach and owner of Rosson & Associates, a management consulting company in Halifax. “Work at forming good relationships with your new co-workers, especially those who wanted your job – if you are aware of who they are.” In time, says Rosson, the quality of your work and your willingness to be part of the team will overcome any opposition to your transfer.