Horizontal Vs Vertical Career: What Is Your Career?

Vertical Career
Many believe that a career is a process of continual promotion. From junior specialist to senior, from expert to head of department, from the head of the department to top manager. But not everyone likes to lead people and take responsibility for budgets. Well, such a career does not exist? It happens!

There are actually two main principles of career growth. These are called vertical and horizontal career types. Each type has its own pros and cons. And one is more suitable for someone, another is more suitable for someone. Let’s tell you more about them.

Vertical career type

This is a career in the conventional sense: from the lowest position to the highest. For example, you come to a company as an intern or an assistant and become a department head. As a rule, growth occurs within the same company or in the same area. Along with the position, the volume of responsibility and, of course, the level of salaries increase.

It is a mistake to think that a vertical career type is the only correct way to develop at work. This opinion is especially common among middle-aged and elderly people, largely because promotions are always noticeable from the outside.

Pros of a vertical career type

– In the minds of the majority, such a career is synonymous with success.

– You solve ambitious tasks, you have a great responsibility, you manage other people and make financial decisions.

– You are the person of the department (or department, or regional office).

– These are great opportunities for the development of both you as a person and the business you are engaged in.

– High salary.

– Good for extroverts.

– Vertical growth is possible in any company, in any professional field.

Cons of a vertical career type

– You are responsible not only for your own work but also for someone else’s. Sometimes the responsibility is too great. This can lead to overwork or burnout.

– You will have to make difficult personnel decisions – choose whom to hire, and part with someone if they do not do their job well (while they can be wonderful people), constantly demand something from subordinates. Not everyone likes this.

– You will absolutely have to live in a busy schedule, get up early, and stay up late. And you can hardly afford to forget about work on vacation.

– You will be less and less immersed in specialized issues of your profession (suddenly it is important for you) and more and more in purely administrative ones. For example, the chief physician is no longer so much a doctor as a manager, the director of a design bureau is more a businessman than a designer. The head of a large legal department is unlikely to think over a legal position himself, to write a lawsuit, and he will go to court only in rare cases.

– The more responsibility you have, the more difficult it is to maintain a balance between work and personal life.

– Often, vertical career development requires participation in office intrigues in order to obtain or retain the desired position.

– The higher your position, the more not the most pleasant attention to you. Expect behind your back office gossip and negativity from subordinates.

– A vertical career always has a ceiling. It will be much more difficult to break through to the next job level.

Horizontal career type

This is the expansion of the employee’s responsibility within one department or the deepening of his competence (when you become the best specialist in your field, no one is as familiar with all the nuances as you, they always run to you for advice, you are able to find a solution where no one can ). In a sense, this is the natural path of professional development. You start as a young specialist, in the process of work you “pump” your skills, learn new things, concentrate on a specific topic and become a professional with narrow specialization. And this is a good option for creative and expert professions if you are in love with your business and do not want to be distracted by management tasks that are not interesting to you.

Such a professional can be responsible not only for his own work but also for the work of those around him: delegate responsibilities, consult, participate in the decision, accept or not accept the work of a new candidate. Such an employee has increased responsibilities, salary increases, functionality expands, his opinion is taken into account by the management, he is one of the most valuable employees that they are afraid of losing. But this is most likely happening within one department.

Horizontal growth includes an increase in grades, categories, and the award of a scientific degree.

Pros of a horizontal career type

– You upgrade your skills and become a valuable professional in your field. The narrower your specialization, the higher your “price” will be in the recruiting market and the more respect you get from colleagues. You can count on special conditions from your employer.

– You are in the process of constant self-education. And at some point, you can start passing on your knowledge to others. The opinion of narrow specialists is more appreciated as comments in the media and scientific papers, if your specialty is of interest to the general public, you will be invited to lecture and conduct master classes. The transfer of experience can be turned into your business, like training or consulting.

– Following your skills, your salary grows.

– You are mainly engaged in what is directly related to your specialty. You do not have to delve into planning, budget, development, and control of KPIs for your department, “resolve” conflicts in the team, follow the undercover intrigues.

– A horizontal career assumes a smaller area of ​​responsibility. You are only responsible for the consequences of your decisions.

– The horizontal type of career has no “ceiling”. It all depends only on your professional goals and aspirations.

– A horizontal career suits introverts.

– People who have chosen a horizontal type of career can calmly maintain normal relations with colleagues, without participating in intrigues and struggle for positions.

– You have more freedom of action than a person in a leadership position. Most likely, you will not need to “look representative”, negotiate with top managers, “meet a certain level, keep the chain of command.”

Cons of a horizontal career type

– Your authority in the department can grow, but at the same time you will not receive a promotion and you yourself remain in eternal subordination. At some point, someone half your age may become your new boss. For some, this is not a problem, but for others it is uncomfortable.

– It is not for nothing that King Solomon believed that “in much wisdom, there is a lot of sorrow.” The deeper you become a professional, the more noticeable to you the mistakes of others. Including your leaders, and it is not so easy to point out mistakes to them.

– Your mom is saddened that she cannot boast of your career achievements in front of her acquaintances.

Another option for a horizontal career is when you try, as a specialist, completely different directions and competencies, until you find something truly your own.

Today, in parallel with marketing, I am working on the development of a new direction – R&D (Research and Development). This year, on my initiative, the company started producing goods under the e2e4 brand. I think I will have something to do here for at least another three years.

I have always refused leadership positions because I was interested in developing a new direction from scratch and leading it exactly until it becomes autonomous. My story is about how the interests of the employee coincided with the pace of development and the policy of the company, so for seven years I have been developing and developing in different areas within the framework of one company. “

We have described the two types of careers in their purest form as if they exist in isolation from each other. In reality, everything is more complicated: often one type of career cannot exist without the second. For example, building a vertical career is more effective, having accumulated a sufficient professional base over the years of “horizontal growth”. Some specialists also distinguish a third type of career – cross-functional or interdisciplinary: a specialist, having reached a certain level of expertise in his field, tries related, close directions and competencies, studies a new field for himself.

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