If your job isn’t making you happy, you might be thinking about making a change this year. But before you jump the gun and say goodbye to your office forever, consider making a lateral move within your company.
If you generally like your workplace and colleagues, finding a new job at your company has several advantages. You’ll feel less overwhelmed by the transition if you’re not in an entirely new position and an entirely new place, and you’ll be taking less of a risk if you’re already comfortable with the company’s culture. Lateral moves are also a great way to round out your skill sets and have been shown to be an accelerant to getting top corporate jobs.
Here are some tips on how to find and secure the right lateral position for you:
Since you’re already an insider, you’re in a good position to find out all you can about a prospective new role. Before you apply to a new position, chat with a colleague who works in the department(s) you’re interested in to get the scoop. Try to figure out if that department’s dynamics appeal to you and whether you’d be a good fit.
Whether you want more money or you’re not feeling challenged in your current position, figure out why you want a change and what you want to get out of your next job. Ultimately, you want to understand where others are happiest working. The women of Fairygodboss rank Talent Acquisition, Consulting, Business, Education and Editorial departments among some of the best departments for female job satisfaction, for example.
There’s no need to broadcast the fact that you’re looking around, just as you wouldn’t do if you were seeking a new job at a new company. As a former head and hiring manager for a large product team, I was occasionally approached by employees in other departments interested in open positions within my own organization. They would tell me confidentially that they were interested in exploring positions in my department, and sometimes they would make it clear they had not yet told their own manager they were looking. I never betrayed anyone's trust, and I suspect that most other hiring managers would do the same.
If you’ve found a department or specific position that interests you but you’re not sure whether you’re qualified, you may need to figure out how to get a foot in the door. The good news is that as an internal employee, you might have opportunities to work with your future team and prove your interest and abilities to them before you formally make overtures for the job. Volunteer for a project that intersects or interacts with the department or manager you’re trying to work for. Not only will you get experience that helps you confirm you’re really interested in the position, but you’ll also get a chance to make a good impression that helps you land the new job.
If you’re hired into another group, you will almost certainly maintain some kind of ongoing relationship with your former colleagues. Therefore, take care to be honest and considerate of transition timelines and communicate clearly so that nobody feels like you left them in the lurch.
A lateral move can be the right step if you’re generally happy at your company but you’re ready to move on from your specific job. Your best professional option may be literally around the corner, in the next department!
A version of this article was previously published on Forbes.