Career Advice

How to Get a Promotion When You’re Working Remotely

By: Nina Petrov
Jan 17, 2022 • 5 min read

Here’s How to Get a Promotion When Working Remotely

Being an ambitious remote employee can be particularly frustrating sometimes. You have signed your contract some time ago, and you are passionate about your new job, you’re into it, you know you’re doing it well. 

However, you feel like your superiors can’t really see you. It seems impossible to show what you’re really made of only appearing on the screen and for a limited period of time.

This is partially true. A good employee is not only a good task executor. In order to really stand out, an employee needs to show attitude and passion, and these are seen only in interaction. Remote work deeply changes the game rules, and online meetings deprive you of the opportunities to show what you’re really made of.

However, things aren’t as bad as they might seem. Yes, things have changed, in many aspects for the worse. The consequences of pandemics and the lockdown will stay for longer than we expected and would like to. For many employees, pandemic consequences mean permanent remote work.

However, every change brings both risks and opportunities. And it’s not just a proverb. The opportunities might not be what you would want them to be, but they are still opportunities. Besides, nothing has changed about the fact that companies still need talented and devoted people, perhaps now more than ever.

Finally, remember that you are free to choose your career path. If you were working for a marketing company, for example, you could maybe start a solo freelance marketing career. Or, you can simply start looking for a job in a company that shares your goals and values.

But if you want to stay and do your best where you are, read on. There must be more to remote work than lagging connections and misunderstandings. Let’s see some powerful things you can do for your career despite working off-site. 

get a promotion

1. Know Yourself 

In order to outpace everyone else only if you know yourself very well. So, before you start your promotion campaign, ask yourself: what are your major strengths and weaknesses compared to other colleagues? Be detailed and honest about it. 

Things like “I can do more” aren’t really an answer because there is a deeper layer to it. Why can you do more? Is it because you are better at organizing your time? Or is it because you care about the job more than everyone else? 

Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself as others see you, and many of us are harder on ourselves than we should be. Avoid discounting your strengths by taking them for granted, because other people will see them as valuable if you show them that way. One way to see your strengths clearly is to take a professional online assessment of your strengths that will show you — objectively — what your strengths are.

Another way to present yourself as valuable is to recognize that just as you and your job are changing, so is HR at most companies. So, if you read up on current HR guidelines for performance reviews, you’ll know more about your company’s changing expectations. That makes it much easier to present yourself in ways that help you achieve promotions. 

Knowing yourself, and knowing what is expected of you, are necessary preconditions for outperforming those expectations. And it is one of the things you can and need to do in order to advance in your career.

2. Be Proactive, Meticulous, and Do More Than Expected

A true oldie but goldie tip for all achievers. There’s no way you can progress to a higher position if you’re not doing the job well. 

Meeting the basic expectations is not enough. Sometimes, you just have to be brave and ask for more responsibility. Do you believe you are a natural leader? If they can’t see you like one, declare yourself. Be honest about it and suggest replacing the team leader while he is on vacation next time. And then, when you get the opportunity, make sure to smash the record. 

One important aspect of presenting yourself as a remote worker is mastering the art of being engaging during video conferences with your team. This will often involve using slide decks or making presentations about your work or ideas. Rely on up-to-date tips for remote presentations that make you shine and practice them regularly. The extra time you spend on preparation will pay off in recognition from your manager and peers.

Otherwise, if there is a promotional video being made, suggest little useful improvements no one has thought about. This could be as simple as adding a funky YouTube end screen. It is no game-changer for the company, but it is impossible for your team leader not to notice.

Of course, there are other things you can do as well. Depending on the job, you can ask for more or more difficult tasks, suggest something valuable, do extra hours without compensation, etc. 

Just beware of one danger here: outperform, but not on the account of your well-being. At the end of the day, you want to send a message that you are passionate about the job, not that you are desperate and don’t value your health and spare time.

3. Help Your Company Understand Your Role

The more companies direct their efforts to remote work, the more they turn their attention to remote sales. But if you’re in sales, you know that many companies and many managers – even sales managers – have trouble understanding how to organize sales development representatives into a system that works efficiently.

When you work in sales or sales support, your success and eventual promotion can be severely limited by a company or manager who doesn’t truly understand the roles of salespeople or how to manage them for success. So for the sake of your career, take the initiative to “mentor upward” and help your manager and others understand how to operate a sales department effectively. 

The same is true if you work in any specialized field. If doing it remotely is relatively new, help your manager understand what has changed and point them to helpful resources for doing things in new and better ways. The better they understand your role, the more likely they’ll promote the right person (you) and not the wrong person (another employee who’s not as worthy of promotion as you are). 

get a promotion

4. Keep a Written Record of Your Progress

To make things even more professional, you could keep a journal of events, achievements, and lessons important for achieving your goals. You could make entries every day or every week in a paper notebook. 

Also, if you are very serious about it, you can use online tools like Canva to make it more visually appealing and motivating.

Did your boss say something that helped you better understand what is being asked of you? Or did you manage to work some extra hours despite the fact that your pet required special attention? Have you mastered that new technique from recent training? Whatever it is, keeping a “business journal” like this will help you remember things better and in turn make you more attentive to what is going on in your virtual office.

Finally, writing these entries is not only a great opportunity to praise and encourage yourself, it’s a very handy reference when you want to remind your boss of the many reasons you’re ready for that promotion.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak to the Management If Necessary

It can be awkward to speak to someone who has some power over you, especially if you have never even met them in person. However, despite all that, remember that managers and team leaders like to see initiative. 

Asking them to spare some time for you, and then suggesting something potentially valuable for the team can be a great way to show your initiative and boldness. Except for saying important things, you can show interest by asking important questions. You can require feedback or ask what are the requirements for the position you are interested in.

In the end, remember that it is as hard for managers in the new remote working conditions, as it is for the employees. They have so many responsibilities, most of them need enterprise project management software to help them find their way through the day-to-day agenda. It is not an excuse for not paying attention to your efforts, but it is an explanation of why it might be hard to get to them.

You can help your manager by diplomatically pointing them to ideas and tools that might help them, such as interesting articles on remote employee management perspectives, new software tools for juggling their many varied tasks, or even ways to reduce their virtual meeting fatigue.

6. Never Stop Learning

In order to go further in your career, you have to develop personally. Always try to keep your knowledge up-to-date, and seek new opportunities to learn something new. And don’t learn only things that are required for your job — find time to follow your interests as well. 

Also, help your manager see your strengths, and always be ready to present yourself favorably, especially in a video format. You never know when you will have the opportunity to show the depth of your experience or the range of your perspective.

7. Outline a Strategy and Stick to It

Once you are clear about:

  • what you want to achieve
  • why you want it
  • what it takes to achieve it
  • your strengths and weaknesses

you can start designing a strategy. Make daily and weekly, short-term and long-term plans of what you need to do in order to accomplish your target objectives. Be disciplined, dedicated,, and keep yourself motivated. A good life-work balance is essential in order to succeed.

get a promotion

Final thoughts

Apart from the recommendations you could read about above, remember that there are many small things you can do that can still help you stand out. For example, you can suggest new games for the next virtual happy hour, or suggest a face-to-face meet-up in a bar if possible.

There are no prescriptions here. Your career path is entirely yours for creating. If you do everything in your power and you still feel like there’s no space for you to grow, you can always change your career path. 

Eventually, if you want to grow but don’t feel like you are capable of fighting your way through, remember that there are always other options. There are many jobs for introverts, in digital marketing, IT, accounting, and more.

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