As careers are constantly changing, people are ditching the traditional corporate ladder for a lattice career path. But is this the best option for you? To help you decide, Chris Stappard, Managing Director at Edward Reed Recruitment, compares the pros and cons of climbing the ladder compared to pursuing a lattice career path.

We’ve all dreamed of climbing the ladder to our dream role, but there’s a new way of moving up in the world that’s taking the job market by storm: lattice careers. We’re all different, with our own strengths, weaknesses, and dreams. This means that one career path may be a better option for you over another.

But, which one is going to be perfect for you? Will you be climbing the corporate ladder or are you better suited to a lattice career path? Below, I’ll be listing the pros and cons of each, so you can work out which is the better option for you.

What is a ladder career path?

As the more traditional option, a ladder career path involves starting from the bottom in a low status role and, through promotions and progression, working your way up to a higher, more senior position over time.


This career path gives you a clear view of how you’ll progress and where you’ll go next. This can help you set clear career goals and give you an insight into what you need to do in order to move up. The career ladder also gives you the opportunity to become an expert in your area of the industry.

For employers, offering career ladders means you’re going to have a higher level of staff retention and a more skilled workforce. Employees will also be more motivated to work hard in order to progress.


While it can give you a clear idea of the future, the ladder career path can also be quite limiting. Once you’ve reached the most senior role, there isn’t much more opportunity to progress. It also gives you less freedom with your career options and, in a time of unsteady economics and an increasing focus on technology, your long-term plans could be disrupted.

What is a lattice career path?

In recent years, more employees have been opting for a lattice career path instead. In short, it’s an update of the corporate ladder, and means that progression and development can happen in any direction, including horizontally and diagonally, rather than simply upwards. It can be an attractive option at a time when millennials and Generation Z are entering the workplace and seeking out new opportunities to grow and develop.


By following a lattice career path, you’ve got the opportunity to work collaboratively across departments and develop brand new skills. You can then learn about every aspect of your industry, rather than the roles on your career ladder, giving you a much broader view of the whole business.

It also gives you the freedom to create the exact career path for you, which means you’re able to adapt your career plan as new opportunities or obstacles arise. Plus, as technologies alter the world of work, roles and skills need to be adaptable in order to keep up with trends.


Where the lattice’s flexibility is its main strength, it’s also its main downfall. Without a solid plan and vision of the future, it can be difficult to work out how to pave the ideal career path for you. And, because there isn’t a clear hierarchical structure, it can be difficult to work out who you need to report to.

Which is best for you?

Although they all have their pros and cons, the career path you choose can ultimately depend on your own aims. If your main, long-term goal is to reach a senior level position as quickly as you can, then the ladder might be the one for you. This will give you a clear focus, and you’ll know exactly what you need to do in order to move up.

However, if you don’t have any set career goals and you’re more interested in learning everything you can, then the lattice career path is the best option. The freedom it gives you means you’re not restricted to any set roles and, once you find your niche, you’ve always got the option of moving upwards from there.

In the ever-changing world of work, it’s no surprise that the way we view professional progression is changing. Whether it’s the career ladder or lattice, the advice in this guide should help you work out which option is the best for you.