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Career catalyst: How to change career in 3 different directions

career advice career progression edi equity new job Nov 30, 2022

Bored with your current job? Wondering whether to take a leap outside your organisation to further your career?

Before you make any hasty decisions, explore the concept of the Lattice career. describes this as 'a career progression pathway that allows for vertical, horizontal, and diagonal movement. In layperson’s terms, that means employees don’t have to stay in their departments to grow.' 

It's easy to become creatures of habit, comfortable where we are and with what we know. However, while change can be scary, it's also hugely energising.  People I know who have taken on different roles invariably return to their team with fresh ideas and different perspectives to share.

If we view career development as a series of explorations rather than a linear progression, we give ourselves permission to experiment.

As a tried and trusted employee with a strong track record, it's less of a gamble for your organisation to support an internal move than it is to recruit externally. 

Which direction?

  • A horizontal move might be to a similar role within a different team.
  • A vertical move would be a promotion within the same team.
  • A diagonal move would be a promotion to a different role in a different team. This is less common. A diagonal move will require you to swiftly acquire the knowledge, skills and culture in order to contribute effectively.

The move to virtual or blended working has meant many of us are accustomed to working more flexibly. We may have already been helping colleagues in different departments out.

An internal move can be a great way of breaking down barriers between departments and increasing understanding of the challenges faced by colleagues in other parts of your university.

Your willingness to take opportunities and gain a range of experiences will make you an asset. Your organisational exposure will be greater. More people will know you and be willing to vouch for you.

What are your options?

  1. Consider what the win-win of what a move would be from your organisation's perspective. Make a list of the benefits.
  1. Meet with your line manager to discuss opportunities that would make better use of your strengths. You'll need your line manager's support. Of course, this is not always possible. Business needs will invariably trump individual preferences.
  2. Some companies offer secondments. Secondments create backfills- an opportunity for someone to try out a different role. It may be possible to cover a maternity leave and for your role to be temporarily backfilled.If an internal move is not an option, explore what changes may be possible to make better use of your strengths in your existing role. Your line manager will be aware that to retain you, they'll need to keep you motivated.7
  3. If you have opportunities to develop your career in this way, make the most of them.  You never know where they may lead.


‘Your big opportunity may be right where you are now’.   Napoleon Hill

About the author: 

Anne Wilson (SFHEA), is Head of Careers at the University of Warwick and part of WHEN’s Career Accelerator programme delivery team. Her blog, is aimed at women working in Higher Education. Anne is actively involved in the development of female staff and students at Warwick.