The shortage of skilled workers and labour makes it possible: it is becoming easier for career changers to change industries. Their advantage: most of them have completed vocational training and have professional experience. And they are motivated to give their best in a new professional field.
For many years, companies reacted very cautiously – at least in my experience – when they talked about lateral entrants. Many managers shied away from the intensive training period, the need for further education and the uncertainty as to whether it could work with someone who did not know the DNA of their own industry.
These advantages make lateral entrants interesting
Whereas in the past I tried to convince those in charge with the tongues of angels that lateral entrants are willing to learn and motivated, that a breath of fresh air from other sectors does no harm and that new methods and ideas flow into the company, the wind is now beginning to change. Because the labour market is empty, older employees are retiring and despite a slight recession there are many companies that are growing. In other words, it is not only the frequently cited Deutsche Bahn that is now interested in lateral entrants.
Talent lies dormant everywhere – even in one’s own company
Many companies are looking for lateral entrants within their own company first. After all, why not first mine the gold that is already there? A good starting point for finding these “treasures” are conversations with employees in which HR managers ask about hobbies, interests or voluntary work, for example. Surprisingly often, competences can be discovered that enable a different professional development in the company. Partial qualifications and skills acquired in previous jobs are also important door openers for an internal lateral entry.
Besides opportunities, there are also limits
Of course, lateral entry does not work in all occupations – if only for legal reasons. This applies, for example, to professions in medicine and nursing. But there are good opportunities for lateral entry in logistics, business and administration, and the media. The education sector has also become an interesting area for a new career start. In my counselling practice, however, I have found that employers often find it difficult to assess existing competences and the effort required for familiarisation and further training.
This is how companies can minimise their risks
Instead of poking around in the fog, a differentiated strategy helps:
- In which areas of the company is lateral entry possible? Which activities could be taken on by people from outside the profession or industry? What skills are required for this – creativity, analytical thinking, organisational skills, …?
- Would employees from within the company who indicate an interest in something new also be considered for these tasks?
- What time and financial resources are there for induction, necessary further training or fast-track training?
- How do we prepare existing staff for lateral entrants? Do they have enough time to take care of the induction? What support do they need?
- How do we keep lateral entrants who have imagined the transition to a new profession easier?