A Transfer at Work Is a Career Opportunity

Woman receiving a promotion in business meeting

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A transferring to a different role within the same company is an approach to help employees develop a career path. A transfer provides experience in other areas of an employee's current department or in a new department within the business. The word transfer is often used interchangeably with the term lateral move, although a transfer can also involve a promotion, whereas a lateral move does not.

Key Takeaways

  • The biggest advantage of a work transfer is that it teaches you new skills and gives you broader experience while staying within the comfort of your company.
  • Additional benefits of transferring within your company include its networking opportunities and the opportunity to increase your understanding of the organization as a whole, fostering future promotions.
  • Transferring to a new role may not result in a salary increase, although it can increase your chances of a receiving promotion down the line.

Transferring Helps You Build Experience

Transferring to a new role allows an employee to gain experience and learn new skills while remaining within the business. Often transfer opportunities are more available than promotions because fewer employees inhabit each successive layer as they rise up the organization chart.

As managers look for ways to help employees continue to develop their skills, experience, and knowledge about the business, a transfer is an option to consider. When working with a performance development planning (PDP) process, along with promotions, a transfer provides an opportunity for an employee to learn and grow.

Transfers Motivate

A transfer to a different job at work is a sign the organization cares about and will provide opportunities for the employee's development, one of five factors employees say they want to obtain from work.

A study from Gallup on "upskilling" indicates that career development is a huge part of what helps employers retain their top employees. According to the study, 71% of workers report greater satisfaction with their jobs if their company offers career development programs. So, if you're an employer hoping to increase retention, a job transfer is another opportunity you can offer career-savvy staff members. 


A transfer will not necessarily result in a higher salary, although it can if the transfer is really a promotion, or if the other workers doing the same job make more money than the transferring employee.

Advantages of a Job Transfer

A transfer provides a career path for an employee when a promotion is not available because the employee:

  • Gains experience by performing a different job with new responsibilities that requires different skills
  • Overcomes boredom and dissatisfaction with their current job by having a new role with new responsibilities and tasks
  • Is challenged with a chance to expand their accomplishments, reach, and impact, and potentially influence different aspects of the workplace and organization
  • Learns about different components, activities, and jobs within the organization and how work is accomplished in different departments or job functions, building their organizational knowledge and ability to get things done, which increases their value to the organization
  • Advances their chances for a promotion or broader organizational role by expanding their skill set and responsibilities, and gaining broader knowledge about the organization as a whole
  • Allows them to network a new group of co-workers and managers, which brings more potential opportunities
  • Grows without leaving the company, thus retaining salary, accrued benefits, and company perks. A company change might, for instance, require starting off with fewer available vacation weeks

Disadvantages of a Job Transfer

It's tempting to say no downsides exist when an employee transfers to a new job, but that isn't always true. For every positive, there's a potential negative flipside because the employee:

  • Must learn a whole new job. When an employee has been comfortably and happily performing in their current position, this change can require a lot of energy investment, learning, and adjustment.
  • Needs to develop a new network of customer and co-worker relationships. The new network has different ways of accomplishing work and getting things done. The employee will need to learn this way of doing business and adjust their behavior.
  • Might not work effectively with the new boss. There are bad bosses out there, and even if this is a good one, any new boss requires an adjustment.
  • Might not like the job, the work, or their new co-workers and must succeed or become ineligible for additional transfers and promotions. The employee could opt to leave the company.
  • Must work hard, work longer hours, and do more to prove they deserved the new position and that the organization picked the right person.

For the employer, the major downside is that the employee will not produce as successfully until they learn the new job. The employer will also have to fill the employee's former position.

To counter these concerns, consider that a good employee who has succeeded in the past will learn quickly to contribute to the new position. If the employer has worked to develop succession planning, the employer has the right employee waiting to take the transferring employee's job.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it OK to request a transfer at work?

So long as you approach your manager in an organized and professional manner and clearly convey your reasons for doing so, there's nothing wrong with expressing interest in moving to a different part of the company. In fact, many employers are happy to work with their employees to facilitate their career growth and development.

What are the downsides of transferring within your company?

The biggest downside of accepting a transfer is also one of the biggest advantages: You will have to learn a completely new job with new responsibilities and new challenges. It's likely you had grown comfortable in your old role so you will likely have to work harder and feel more stress when first starting the new position.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gallup. "The American Upskilling Study: Empowering Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow."

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