How to get promoted while working remotely

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Welcome to The Broadside, a careers newsletter. Here’s what to expect in this issue.

Broadside writer Kristine Gill offers advice from career experts on how you can stay on track for that raise or promotion, even if you’re working remotely amid COVID. Then, scroll on for job opportunities from Amazon, HBO Max, Wellpath, and more.


Millions of Americans forced to work from home during the pandemic aren’t just faced with Wi-Fi problems and Zoom fatigue; many of them also worried that their careers would stagnate and they’d miss upcoming promotions and raises while the world hit pause. 

I was heartened to hear that, for at least a few newly remote workers, that wasn’t the case. I spoke to bosses and employees who managed to give out raises and promotions these past couple of months, and they have advice on how you can do the same—during a pandemic and otherwise. 

Don’t give up hope.

When Raquel Cona learned she’d be working remotely for her Midtown Manhattan PR firm back in March, one of her first concerns was about her upcoming promotion. 

“I knew I was on track, given how long I’ve been at the company, my experience, but my six-month review for the year would have been in April and it was TBD due to COVID,” she said. “So I just didn’t know if it was going to be on the table.”

By April, her bosses had kept their promise. And rather than having the formal review, Cona got a phone call saying she was getting the promotion. 

“It really was awesome,” she said. “They were sending a message to say they care about the hard work I was doing. They felt it was important to just do it then and make sure I felt like I was being valued.”

How’d Cona manage it? She worked longer hours so her PR clients knew she was still on hand, and she spent more time checking in with her staff during morning calls. Cona was happy to do a few hours of extra work here and there, knowing the remote situation was temporary and hoping she could use the situation to prove her adaptability and drive to the higher-ups. 

“I was working longer hours, but also showing my employers that I’m ready to do and I’m available to put in all the work,” she said. “I think it really set me apart and geared me up for the promotion.”

Sarah Murphy, Head of Marketing at Scurri, an e-commerce software company, was promoted during the lockdown from her position as Marketing Manager, even after recently returning from maternity leave. 

She took much of the advice experts have given when she made the shift to remote work: She created a home office space, established a daily routine and tried to find a good separation between work and home life to maintain sanity. And she was sure to stay in communication with her boss to make sure everyone knew she was still on track despite these new challenges. 

Still, Murphy believes the most important thing that set her apart was the same thing that sets all great employees apart: the quality of her work.

“Visibility is important, but the work you are delivering will speak for itself, so focus on your output rather than people’s perception of you working from home,” Murphy says.

Work the reduced face-time to your favor.

If you’re the type who likes to be seated at your desk and sipping your second cup of coffee by the time the boss rolls in, you might miss the perceived boost from those daily, visible reminders of your stellar work ethic. When you’re working remotely, those things don’t matter.

“For all productive people, congratulations. This is a terrific opportunity to showcase your productivity in a way that doesn’t rely on face time, kissing up to the boss or any other nonproductive corporate activity,” says Marc Cendella, founder and CEO of Ladders. [Note: Fortune partners with Ladders to include the job listings shared below.] “None of the stuff that doesn’t matter, matters in an all-remote environment. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing that day, doesn’t matter what the boss says at the water cooler, doesn’t matter if you like her blouse or his shoes. It’s really just focused on your work, so take advantage of that.”

What’s important now is to make whatever communication you have with your boss count, whether it’s a daily morning call or a weekly Zoom meeting, Cendella says. Find a way to point out your successes on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual scale. If you have to, ask to schedule these check-ins formally on your boss’s calendar.

Casey Paul, a Digitial Marketing Manager at Kaizen Agency in London, managed to earn her promotion even after two months of remote work this year. Key to her success were regular check-ins with her boss. The check-ins allowed her to show she was meeting her existing goals.

“I also utilized the time to ask my CEO about how the business expectations and goals may have changed due to COVID,” she said.

Doing the same could help you to demonstrate a previously unseen knack for working during a crisis or adapting to extreme circumstances. If you’re able to finish a project you’ve been putting off or take an online training course to up your game, Paul recommends it.

“Building your skill set during this time is invaluable and showcasing that will also highlight your value as an employee,” she says. 

Stay on track with your goals.

Cendella says your annual one-on-one meeting with your boss is like a contract. When you meet those goals and document them, you can demonstrate your value and still stay on track for any promotions or raises you were up for. 

“Too many people think the one-on-one is their boss’s way of snooping and check in on them,” he says. “Really it’s your way to get ahead. That is your tool, that is your weapon, it’s your updraft, the wind at your back that pushes your sails forward.”

During remote work check-ins, be sure to reference those goals by providing proof of your work. The best way to do that is with numbers.

“There is no job on the planet that is not reduceable to numbers, other than mothering,” Cendella says. So figure out a way to measure time spent on individual tasks, number of engagements on social media posts, hits on blogs, increases in sales, or contacts with customers, whatever your position might entail.

And while metrics work, there are still advantages to traditional methods of “showing up,” says Amelia Green-Vamos, a Career Trends Expert at Glassdoor. 

“Even minor tactics like turning on your video during virtual meetings, providing additional perspective on email threads and delivering timely status reports to your manager can go a long way in terms of communicating your value and growth in order to be considered for future promotions,” she says.

Ask for a promotion or raise anyway.

Say your company has had layoffs or furloughs, or pay cuts or dire company-wide emails warning of financial hardship in the coming months. You can still ask for those promotions and raises, Cendella says. The worst that can happen is that you’re told no.

If you’re worried COVID has frozen job opportunities, you’re wrong. You might benefit from Glassdoor’s ‘Hiring Surge’ tool, which helps clarify which employers are still actively hiring during COVID-19.

Laura Eboa Songue managed to get her new role as an international communication and marketing consultant at United Nations Development Programme during lockdown. She had her interview remotely, and sealed the deal via email after some back-and-forth negotiations.

“I even had technical difficulties due to internet issues,” she says. “It was a bit challenging and embarrassing. Glad I made it through.”

If your company has been explicit about a hiring freeze or holds on raises and promotions, don’t call 2020 a wash.

“If you’re not currently able to level up at your company, then set your own goals,” Green-Vamos says. “What new skills do you want to gain by the end of Summer 2020? Perhaps you’d like to set one virtual coffee chat per month, join an online webinar, take a new course on Skillshare or something else. Don’t forget that you have the power to continue growing even if your company is currently on pause.”

Don’t overthink it, if you’re the boss.

Aaron Bolzle is the executive director of Tulsa Remote, a program in Oklahoma that pays remote workers $10,000 to relocate to their city of choice while continuing work at their respective companies. He has advice for employers as they look to make offers, give promotions and evaluate employee productivity during the pandemic. 

“There’s a natural tendency when team go remote to micromanage and to want to have proof of the work that’s being done,” he says.

When considering employees for promotions, don’t let the fact that you’re now remote affect your opinion of their job performance. Bolzle says if you’re having trouble trusting your employees while they work from home, you should also be worried about the work they do in your physical office.

“It really comes down to hiring good people, empowering them to do their jobs and then letting them do it,” he says. As Murphy said earlier: The work will speak for itself.

— Kristine Gill

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