Career Report
March, 2013 — Issue 157

Lateral Move Can Help Broaden You

With the challenging job market of the past five years, the value of a lateral career move has drawn interest from more workers, even those with advanced degrees. While lateral moves don’t come with a more prestigious title or pay raise, they are considered worthwhile as they provide a chance to learn new skills, gain fresh ideas and build relationships with key players, according to an article in USA Today. Often those are the critical ingredients to propel an employee up the ladder in a way that an MBA will not.

A prime example of the lateral career move is Paulett Eberhart, chief executive of CDI, an engineering tech company. She told the newspaper that she does not have an MBA but still managed to rise to her position by making some career moves that were lateral – and even a step down. The key: Each move gained her more skills and experience and built relationships that she needed to succeed, she said.

While working as a certified public accountant, Eberhart said she asked to be assigned to sales and operations because she saw it as critical “to get out there on the front lines and deal with customers and clients.” Eventually, she asked to move entirely to the operations side. During these transitions, which sometimes moved her sideways or even down the company structure, she continued to add to her knowledge by taking leadership classes and “raising my hand to volunteer for outside assignments.” “Education doesn’t always have to come through formal challenges,” Eberhart told USA Today. “I’m proof you can get to the top through nontraditional routes. While Eberhart said she would not advise against an MBA and believes the degree can be valuable, she said that it is just as important to self-educate and steer your career in way that will lead you to your goals – even if that means taking a lateral position. “I’ve always looked at it as, ‘What areas am I strong in and what do I need to learn?’ ” Everhart said.

Job search strategist Hannah Morgan concurred with Eberhart’s views. “I have seen more than once, MBA candidates become frustrated when their employer has chosen not to promote them or give them more challenging assignments,” she said. A lateral career move, she added, has proven a solution to the dilemma in many cases.

Morgan said anyone considering a lateral move should be sure to do their homework first. If you’re going to leave your current employer, she advised doing research online through sites like to ensure you’re jumping to a company with a solid reputation. Look through online news or Linkedin profiles to see if the company regularly offers advancement or if careers appear to stagnate and cause employees to leave, she told the newspaper.

“In general, opportunities for growth tend to be greater in a small company,” Morgan pointed out. “You often have the opportunity to wear more than one hat, take on a variety of projects or fill gaps when the company is in growth mode.” While the salary may be less with a small employer, the experience “may be worth it in the long run,” she added.

As Eberhart learned when she took a position that took her further away from the top leadership for a while, moving down the career ladder also can have its advantages too, particularly if it helps you gain new skills and experience necessary to thrive and move back up. In fact, Morgan told the newspaper that taking a step down can be necessary if it’s what is needed to get yourself established with a desired employer or if you’re changing industries and don’t have the experience. In addition, sometimes a downward move can make sense for you personally, as new responsibilities may offer changes such as reduced work hours or less travel she added.

“For these individuals, taking a step down is a good reason,” she said. “And taking the lower position allows them to remain in the workforce vs. burning out and having to quit or get fired.”

News from BLK

Spring is in the air and along with rising temperatures, we at Berman Larson Kane are seeing a rise in job opportunities, especially in the IT sector. Specifically, fields seeing growth are e-commerce, software development, content management, data mining and predictive marketing, systems and network support/integration and software sales. Candidates are receiving multiple offers and in turn clients are presenting lucrative counter offers. The level of supply and demand in this niche is reminiscent of the past and we feel it will continue at this pace in the immediate future until the market finds a more reasonable demand for talent balance.

Please join us in welcoming back Vilmarie Alecia. Vilmarie will be the point of contact for contract employees with regard to payroll and benefits and will also be handling the Berman Larson Kane internal bookkeeping. Vilmarie can be reached at or 201.909.0906 ext. 2805.