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5 minute read

Should Your Career Change Be a Lateral Move or an Industry Switch?

Explore the pros and cons of lateral moves and industry switches to help you decide which path aligns best with your career goals.

Making a career change can be challenging, regardless of your reasons. Should you explore new opportunities within your current company or make the bold leap into a different industry?

Workipedia by MyCareersFuture dives into this decision by examining the pros and cons of lateral moves and industry switches, helping you navigate your career journey and take your next step with confidence.

Things to consider before making a move

Before deciding on a lateral move or an industry switch, reflect on your goals and motivations. Are you seeking new challenges, a better work-life balance, or a more meaningful career? Are you feeling unfulfilled in your current role, or is something else prompting your desire for change?

By clarifying your motivations, you can better assess which direction aligns with your long-term goals. Also, consider the potential impact on different aspects of your life, such as your finances, work-life balance, and personal relationships.

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Financial implications 

Both career moves could result in temporary pay adjustments or changes in benefits. Evaluate your financial situation and plan for potential financial strain during the transition.

Work-life balance

If a better work-life balance is a priority, research the role you’re considering and whether it aligns with your desired lifestyle, including opportunities for flexible work arrangements.

Personal and family considerations

Open communication and support from your inner circle can help guide your decision. Involve your loved ones in the decision-making process and consider their perspectives.

Choosing a lateral move: Change within familiar territory

A lateral move involves shifting roles within the same industry or company, often at a similar level of responsibility and pay. This path offers the chance for you to be exposed to new experiences without taking on a major career overhaul. 

Pros

1. Rekindling your professional passion

If you’re bored of working in the same role but have no desire to leave the industry you’re working in, there’s no reason to make a big career move. Taking on a new job role within the same industry, or even in the same company, may be the right one for you to reignite your passion for work.

2. Expanding your skill set

A lateral move exposes you to different facets of your industry, broadening your skills and enhancing your marketability. The best part is that you will gain the opportunity to learn new things in the comfort of familiar territory.

3. Maintaining stability

You don’t have to start from square one. By staying within the same company or industry, you preserve benefits like seniority and continuity, allowing you to focus on your professional development without major disruptions. 

Cons

Lateral moves offer an opportunity for change without the hassle of a major overhaul to your career. Still, it’s important to be aware that, there are some potential downsides.

1. Limited advancement

While you may gain new experiences and expand your skills, a lateral move often keeps you at a similar level of responsibility and pay. This can limit immediate opportunities for significant career progression and salary growth.

2. Risk of comfort zone

Staying within a familiar setting might keep you too comfortable, potentially hindering your ability to challenge yourself and innovate. You may miss out on broader industry trends and new perspectives that could boost your career.

3. Possible stagnation

If you need a significant change in your career, simply getting a role change may not work for you. You’ll still be working under the same management, experiencing the same workplace culture, and seeing the same faces daily. 

A lateral change may be ideal for those who are happy in their current circumstances but want an expansion in their career opportunities. When considering a lateral change, consider all the factors to see if such a move fits your needs.

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Switching industries: Exploring new opportunities

If you’re thinking of making a mid-career industry switch, you’re not alone. More Singaporeans are planning to take on a non-linear career path, with 71% of professionals saying they will choose a different industry or job role for their next career move.

Switching industries opens up a world of possibilities you may not have been privy to previously. This bold leap can allow you to pursue newfound passions, align your work with your evolving values, or take advantage of emerging trends.

Pros

1. Align with interests and values 

You don’t have to be stuck in one job or industry forever. In your career journey, your professional interests may have evolved, or you may be developing an inclination to certain ideals. Switching industries can help you realign your professional pursuits with your personal values.

2. Capitalise on emerging market trends 

The world’s economy is constantly evolving, and certain industries may gain prominence while others decline. Moving to a new industry position you at the forefront of emerging trends, potentially paving the way for a more future-proof career.

3. Leverage transferable skills 

Many core competencies, such as problem-solving, communication, and leadership, are valuable across various sectors. Highlight these skills during your job search to boost your chances of securing a role in your desired industry.

Cons

Making an industry switch can be rewarding in the long run. However, it is also important to be aware of some of the risks involved, especially in the early stages.

1. Steep learning curve 

Working in a new industry means you will need to quickly acquire new knowledge, and skills, and adapt to its norms. This can be stressful in the beginning and it is important to be patient and remain resilient.

2. Network disruption

Switching industries means you’ll likely need to build your professional network for the industry from scratch. This may affect your ability to access mentorship, support, and new opportunities in the short term.

3. Potential setbacks

Entering a new industry as a rookie might involve a drop in salary or benefits, especially if you lack direct experience in the field. It is important that you’re aware of this and be realistic with your remuneration expectations.

Planning a career move? Use CareersFinder, a personalised jobs and skills recommender on MyCareersFuture, to plan out your next steps. Unlock your potential today!

Career change: Do it with the right mindset

Career change is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. Whether opting for a lateral move or an industry switch, approaching it with the right mindset is crucial. Reflect on your goals, assess your options, and embrace the change with confidence, knowing it aligns with your aspirations.

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