Ask HR: Is a horizontal career move really better?
What you need to know:
- Contrary to popular belief, length of service is not always the most desirable quality of an employee.
- Employers also appreciate when staff make an effort to acquire new skills that are relevant to the organisation.
- You also become unattractive to potential employers if you have been on one role for too long.
In the 10 long years I have worked at my company, I have seen colleagues come and go. I however remained loyal, hoping that I would one day get a promotion. However, colleagues who came after me have severally been promoted. A friend at Human Resources hinted to me that sometimes horizontal promotion is better than vertical promotion. He tried explaining the context but it didn't make sense to me. What really is the difference?
Employees who have worked for an organisation for a long period often earn more due to annual increments. They, in the long run, become costly to the employer especially if they don’t reinvent themselves and acquire the new skills employers are looking for. What new skills have you acquired in those 10 years? Even the skills that were highly sought after by employers have changed. It is upon you to explore the changes in your industry and acquire the skills you need to become a valuable employee.
Contrary to popular belief, length of service is not always the most desirable quality of an employee. Employers also appreciate when staff make an effort to acquire new skills that are relevant to the organisation. You also become unattractive to potential employers if you have been on one role for too long. Employers might see you as someone who is set in their ways and might find it difficult to adjust to new culture. However, some will like that you have been a loyal and reliable employee, and will be attracted to your profile.
Hope is not a strategy. You have to be intentional about your career growth. The colleagues who came after you might have competencies you don’t have. If you must leave the organisation to acquire experience, do that. But, before making the move, equip yourself with competencies that will make you an expert in your profession.
Horizontal promotion means that you move to another role but which is still within your grade, and gives you opportunity to expand your knowledge. It is also about moving to a more specialised role. Salary might be adjusted within the same band, but if you are already on the highest level, then there is no review to be done. A horizontal move is good for employees who are seeking to acquire new skills. Vertical promotion is about moving to a higher grade with more pay and also higher level of authority. Follow the advice of your HR Manager so that you can reinvent yourself and also gain new competencies which might give you competitive advantage when there is an opportunity for vertical promotion in future.
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