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Why diagonal moves are so tricky

You are frustrated in your current role so you have applied for a job up a level of responsibility with a new employer. We call this a diagonal move. Vertical moves, which are pretty safe, are when you get promotion within your own organisation. Providing the company is a good employer, you should expect support, training and time to settle in to your new responsibilities. Vertical moves are a great career strategy. Horizontal moves, when you move from one company to another in broadly speaking the same role can also be good news. For one, you may move to a much better organised, better disciplined employer where previous preconceptions about your ability and your limitations no longer exist. They often release people whose job has become mundane and routine. Horizontal moves can be refreshing. But diagonal moves, these are always more tricky. For a start, there are more variables than normal; can you operate at a higher level? Will you get on with your new company? They also leave you with much less of a safety net. If you were to do the same thing within your company, if it didn't work out then perhaps you can all agree you can go back to your old role or level of responsibility. Generally moving up a level in a new company leaves you with nowhere to go. It is either sink or swim. Whenever you move companies you are less protected, but diagonal moves can leave you exposed too. If your move does not work out, sometimes for reasons beyond your control, you may have difficulty re-establishing your career. Perhaps you were a highly successful sales manager, but now you are a failed general manager. Everyone is nervous about employing you back a level, because they know what you really want to do is run a dealership. But as you have no record at that level, people will take the view that you couldn't cope, whatever the real reason. Having a successful career, just like a successful innings cricket or round of golf, is about managing risk. I would never say don't do it, but go in with your eyes open. The risks are much greater, though the rewards potentially a higher. Just factor this in when you are making your decision. Good luck


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