When is a move not a lateral move?

TLDR: when looking at, or accepting new roles, at what point would the move not be considered a step back or lateral move, but one that would be a solid move forward to progress your career?

The question can be rather complicated, but I'll try to be brief. Consider your current role and title. If you were, for example, a Sr. Analyst at Company A, would a move to an Analyst role (or lateral to another Sr. Analyst role) at Company B, be considered a step back? In other words, is RE so title dependent that you should only be looking at that Associate or higher level roles when making a move? I had a long debate with someone about this and couldn't tell if they just didn't understand the RE industry or if I was being a blockhead.

Ultimate example: I tried to make the argument it was more about experience than the role title. If my end goal is to end up in acquisitions at Carlyle, Blackstone, Hines, etc. and I'm an Associate in Asset Management at a mid-level, relatively no name firm, I would jump at the opportunity to be an Analyst on one of their deal teams doing live deals. The person I debated with said that would be a dumb move and I would be a step back because of the "perceived backwards step".

Feel free to set me straight. I couldn't see the other side of the argument and figured I'd see if you all had any experience with this.

Comments (19)

Sep 3, 2019

I'll let the veterans chime in, but I agree with your logic. While getting exposure at a no-name firm is great for your overall toolkit, the weight of a top name firm on your resume pulls a credible amount of weight. The largest hurdle you may have with a no-name firm on your resume is landing the interview. Once you have the interview, it's your job to sell yourself and experience. May be worthwhile connecting with headhunters who can compellingly spin your story.

There have been numerous times I have walked into interviews and impressed the hiring manager with my responsibilities vs. implied title as an analyst.

    • 1
Sep 3, 2019
babybaboon:

TLDR: when looking at, or accepting new roles, at what point would the move not be considered a step back or lateral move, but one that would be a solid move forward to progress your career?

The question can be rather complicated

It's not though. A move is not a lateral move or a step back if it is a move into a higher role. If you're a development associate assisting on deals and move somewhere to become a development manager running deals, or if you're a development manager running deals and you move somewhere to become a development director coordinating the managers who are running deals, these are not lateral moves.

You can make a justification for a lateral move or a step back, and you gave a perfect example for when you would make such a justification - going from an Associate at a no name firm to an Analyst at Hines for instance - but it is still a step back (or a lateral - titles in real estate are rather nebulous). You are taking a strategic step back, sacrificing your current role/title for what you think (and what probably will be) future gain. Some people might think this is a great move. Others would never consider it. There's no right answer here.

tl;dr Who gives a shit. Do what you think is right for you. Whoever you debated with has different values, risk tolerances, goals, etc. so what is right for you might not be right for them.

    • 4
Sep 3, 2019

I've found titles to be very inconsistent. My last role I was promoted from analyst to associate at the 2 year mark on the LP side. 6 months into that promotion I left for an analyst role on the GP side that has proved to be more responsibility and pays 20% more. While this could be viewed as a step back, I don't think I will have issues explaining it in the future. Anyone who understands the real estate industry and isn't just a warm body in HR should get it.

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Most Helpful
Sep 3, 2019

Titles rarely make any sense in the CRE world.

Step up in responsibilities = step up
Same responsibilities = lateral
Less responsibilities = step down

Sure firm and pay come into play here but let's not overcomplicate this thing...

    • 6
Sep 4, 2019

thanks all. appreciate the insight and perspective.

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Sep 4, 2019

The problem that I've found is that any interest I receive in the job market doesn't seem to translate. It's a lateral move or a move with some more responsibility with the same title (sr analyst), but the pay isn't as strong. The salary is almost the same or a little raise but the bonus is definitely not as good.

I am frustrated because it seems like I have to climb the ranks at my own company until I can get the title change and a significant raise. And my looking at the job market as a whole looks like a desert for those who want to move up and have between 4-6 years of XP. There's even a topic on the RE discussing how many of us in that bucket are stuck.

    • 1
Sep 4, 2019

We are all dealing with it.

You gotta push yourself at your current firm. It's hard, no doubt about it. Put yourself out there. Demonstrate your investment prowess to the seniors.

I think there is this gross misperception that we all deserve the bump up.. and it simply isn't true. 5 years of modeling deals ain't going to get you there. No one cares. Modeling doesn't matter.

Unless the big title / pay bump falls into your lap by function of luck you're simply not going to get to the next level as a younger professional unless you bring something to the table.

You don't deserve shit and anyone can do what you do, unless, well, they can't, and you add serious value somehow. Whether that be salesmanship, hustle, forward thinking / second level thinking, investment acumen, etc...

    • 5
Sep 5, 2019

You sir are 100% correct. And that is why I am actually in the process of looking at MBA programs focused on Business Analytics/Big Data/Machine Learning.

I think there is real potential to grow in Real Estate through understanding both the fundamentals of Commercial Real Estate and Data Science/ Most of the tech guys don't seem to have any RE experience or knowledge.

Funniest
Sep 5, 2019
ThatGuyBalls:

No one cares. Modeling doesn't matter.

There may not be a quote that young people on this site need to read more

    • 4
Sep 4, 2019

If you are (a) doing more interesting work and (b) making more money, then it is not a step back regardless what your title is in my opinion.

Sep 4, 2019
Temujiin:

If you are (a) doing more interesting work and (b) making more money, then it is not a step back regardless what your title is in my opinion.

yes. I might be foolish to go this far, take it with a grain of salt, but I would almost say if you're doing more interesting work then a paycut is not a big deal long term.

Sep 4, 2019

Titles don't really mean shit unless you can back it up with execution / experience. I recently spent 6 months at a shop where the head of acquisitions was a lizard brain moron who had no idea what a discount rate or s&u ment, he couldn't even link up two different excel file but he was "bros" with the founders which was more important than who could do the work. i spent 6 months at the firm with a bullshit title aka ACQUISITION SPECIALIST. i put on my resume acquisition associate and landed a job as an acquisition manager with a credible group. last shop was a syndicator that bought core assets and showed 18% return to investors to raise capital. shit hasn't caught up with them yet but it will sooner than later. any moron can use a lower cap rate at exit to show 18% IRR and get dumb money to invest in deals. i explained my story to companies after getting FIRED due to disagreement with management and got a job offer in less than 3 weeks with almost 50% increase to 100% increase in pay based on ability to source deals (my base pay went up from the shit company too). anything is possible in this industry. also, network with industry insiders once or twice a month, that's how you will land that next gig or learn how to drive impact :)

    • 4
Sep 4, 2019

It's not a step backward if your next job is paying more

Carlyle associate pay is $200k+, which is higher than a manager/VP role at most lifeco/bank places. This is a move up.

Just don't switch place for only 5k-10k increase in salary, that's retarded lol

    • 1
Sep 4, 2019

Echoing people above, titles only matter when they matter. To varying degrees to different people, we measure the worth of role by:

  • Comp
  • Title
  • Prestige
  • Culture
  • How interesting and stimulating is the work?

How do you weigh these personally? And then, which are increasing and which are decreasing, and by how much? Tally that shit up and there is your answer. There are shitshops out there calling 24 year olds "VPs", and there are 40-year-old "analysts" in some really old-school shops that have equity participation and vacation homes. There are a lot of levers to pull and they mean different things to different people, so honestly only you can determine what is a lateral and what isn't. I would also say that from a more traditional viewpoint, if you think a move is almost certainly going to put you in a better place in 5 years, it probably isn't a step back regardless of the impact on present comp or title.

    • 1
Sep 8, 2019

Exactly.

Analyst making $250k/yr doing stimulating work with people you like > Vice President making $110k/yr doing boring work with people you dislike.

Those are two extremes but it comes down to what the trade off truly is. What are you gaining or losing with the new position?

Sep 5, 2019

Call it was it is, a step down in title to get better experience.

My two cents is No, it isn't a Lateral move and if you did take an Analyst title and later (say 1 or 2 years later) looked for another job, the onus would be on you to explain why you are lower. However, as you mention there are other factors and if you are getting Better Experience, it may be worth it to take title downgrade. The hope is that you wouldn't be looking until at least you get promoted back to Associate in the new company. So you then have a win on type of experience and flat or positive on your current title vs prior title. Given you probably want to stay at the new job for 3-5 years, getting back to your old title hopefully will not be a problem.

Sounds like you are early in your career. This would be the time to try out the fast pace deal making role vs a slower AM role. Good luck.

Sep 6, 2019

I wouldn't look at a role change in that way.

If you change job, perhaps you move area completely and it will be a step down in terms of responsibilities and compensation, short term. But why did you take the role? Most likely because the long term benefits outweigh the short term negatives. So it may be a step down for a couple of years but in the grand scheme of things it's a good move that will pay off, so you could consider it a step up.

Picture a FO guy who decides to go in MO or BO because he wants to spend more time with his family. Professionally that would be considered a step down, clearly. But is it a step down for him? Probably not, he gets to spend more time with his family which is more important to him.

Basically, you wouldn't even consider taking a role that YOU consider to be worse for yourself overall. It doesn't matter what other people think, if you think the other role will make you happier in the long run, go for it.

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Sep 6, 2019

As long as the move gets you closer to where you want to be professionally and in life then I would consider it a step forward.

Sep 8, 2019
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