Horizontal vs. Vertical Career Growth: Pros and Cons of Each - Growth Freaks

Horizontal vs. Vertical Career Growth: Pros and Cons of Each

drawing representing someone's career growth

Once you start working in a company where you want to build a professional future, you will automatically think about your career growth and development inside the company. Which definitely involves you changing positions as you improve your skills. But the question is: do you want to grow horizontally or vertically?

A horizontal career growth involves you getting transferred to other departments, where you can learn new things, but also exercise your current set of skills. Oftentimes, you will have a similar status like the one you had before. A vertical career growth focuses on climbing the ladder strictly in your respective department. The end goal is changing job titles and reaching the top. If you don’t know which one sounds better, here are some pros and cons of each.

Horizontal Career Growth


The first clear benefit of a horizontal career growth is the fact that you will be able to learn new things and challenge yourself professionally. So if you feel like your current position is a dead end for you, you might want to look into some other departments. You will also meet new people and get the opportunity to learn interesting things as you work with them. You will experience a completely different way of thinking and solving problems. Finally, you will also probably test out a new type of leadership.


Like with any career growth move, this one too has its cons. For instance, you might want to think about the fact that the paycheck might be the same or even smaller than the one you had before. You might also have a difficult time adjusting, especially if you are someone who doesn’t like extreme change. Also, you might really enjoy your current job. There is a possibility that the new one won’t be as fulfilling for you.

Vertical Career Growth


In the case of a vertical career growth, you will gain a lot of experience in your respective department, which will make you an expert in time. You will be able to visualize progress, since you are moving up the ladder of career growth. The change is more concrete, and it usually brings with it financial benefits. You will also feel extremely comfortable when you change positions, because the department is already familiar to you.


One of the most obvious cons of the vertical career growth choice is the fact that working in the same field year after year might turn into a routine you are bored with. You won’t challenge yourself or learn new things, since you will only stick to what you already know. When you get promoted, it might feel like even if the title is different, the responsibilities are quite similar. Finally, when you’ve reached the top of the ladder, you might wonder what’s next for you.

Even if both career growth tactics have their pros, there are always cons that you have to keep in mind. After analyzing each of them carefully, you can decide if you want to use the horizontal growth, the vertical growth, or try to combine them so as to get the best of both worlds.

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Author: Amanda Knowles