How to Get a Job Promotion in a Remote Company

Working Remotely

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Some people think it’s more challenging to get a promotion at a remote company than at a traditional on-premise business. 

After all, your higher-ups can’t see you tapping away at your keyboard or burning the midnight oil when you’re working remotely. So does this mean you’re out of sight and out of mind to these key decision-makers?

Not exactly. 

Promotions are earned by people who deliver results for the company. And there are several ways to prove your value and worth despite working off-site.

So in this guide, we’ll give you a game plan to help you stand out in the virtual workplace and get a promotion you deserve.

How To Get a Promotion in a Remote Company

In a study mentioned by the Wall Street Journal, remote employees tended to “obsessively” monitor their email and volunteer to take early-morning and late-night meetings just to show their bosses they’re committed and working hard from afar [*].

However, we’re not in favor of an always-on mindset here. We prioritize creating a healthy work-life balance and setting healthy boundaries when working remotely.

It’s far too easy for remote teams to feel the symptoms of burnout, especially when they’re vying for a promotion. 

So these tips are geared to boost your professional development and ensure you’re becoming the best version of yourself, which should definitely put you in line for advancement:

1. Create a Strategy for Standing Out

If you’re consistently missing deadlines, ignoring client requests, and only doing the bare minimum, you’re probably not the first choice for a promotion. So the first step up the ladder is making sure your work is 💯.

It’s not enough to just meet expectations — you have to be willing to go above and beyond to get noticed, especially if everyone else on your team is killing it.

So how do you stand out?

You play to your strengths.

Where do you bring the most value? Determine what you can do better or faster than everyone else. Capitalize on this ability to help the team while spotlighting your unique strengths. 

If you have boast-worthy leadership skills, for example, take on the role of leading effective virtual team meetings. Have more creativity? Put your special touch on everything going out to clients.

Do you better than anyone else can, and you’ll prove your value.

Take the lead. If you want to get noticed, try solving a problem others may not even know exists.

If there’s a bottleneck in your team’s current way of doing things, flex those problem-solving abilities to come up with a more productive process. 

Your initiative and critical thinking skills will definitely get noticed if your plan boosts productivity. 

2. Keep a Highlight Reel Going

Get in the habit of taking a few minutes before Friday’s virtual happy hour to jot down all your accomplishments from the week in one centralized location. A special notebook or online document works well here.

Track all your career wins, significant metrics, moves that lead to positive outcomes, and other key milestones. 

Did you close a new account? Implement a new system or protocol? Make major campaign progress? 

Keep these snippets short and sweet, somewhere less than 200 words. Reflect on the problem you faced, what you did, the result, and what you learned. 

Bonus points if you use a tool like Canva to create impressive, memorable charts and graphics for your highlights.

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Why go through this effort?

You’ll never remember these wins with the hustle of daily life, and the chances of your boss keeping them top of mind are even less. So it’s up to you to record them.

In a Harvard Business Review study, 88% of people who received a promotion kept a record to support evidence of their performance and demonstrate their ability to take on more responsibility [*].

The objective numbers, facts, and data in your highlight reel reinforce why you deserve a promotion. And when you quantify your results with concrete facts and share them with your boss, they’ll see why too. 

Plus, this collection of snippets will help you update and tailor your resume for your dream remote job and build your remote job portfolio to stand out online.

3. Have a Face-to-Face with Your Higher-Ups About Advancement

In that HBR study mentioned earlier, 79% of managers said employees who set goals for themselves instead of waiting for seniors to do so show the initiative they look for when deciding whom to promote [*].

So don’t be afraid to ask your boss for a face-to-face virtual meeting to discuss taking on more responsibilities. 

Let your seniors know you’re keen to take on more work duties and the higher-level tasks a promotion brings. They’ll never know you want to step outside your scope of work and be considered for future advancement unless you tell them. 

Write up talking points from your highlight reel to share during your meeting and practice them to build your confidence. Refine your pitch for a promotion so it’s Shark Tank level tight. 

Ask for a career roadmap. If there’s a specific position you’d like to ascend to, ask what’s required to land that role. Otherwise, see if your boss will give you a checklist of objectives to become the best candidate for promotion.

How do you prepare for it? What goals should you work on? Do you need more certifications or experience with a particular tool or software? 
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Take on “stretch assignments” that give you first-hand experience of tasks you might get handed in a promoted role. Doing well here shows you’re ready for the responsibilities that come with that position. 

If you’re leveling up your skills (see next tip), these also provide a chance for you to show off what you’ve learned. Prove you can balance managing yourself while supporting your remote team, and you’ll be a shoo-in.

Schedule a follow-up for feedback. If your boss gives you a list of stuff to work on, schedule another meeting to discuss your progress in the next 30 days. Researchers from that HBR study showed 96% of bosses believe asking for feedback at least once per quarter shows that you’re willing to improve [*]. 

4. Level Up Your Career Skills

A promotion brings the need for higher-level skills and more responsibilities. Once you know what will be expected in that role, you should create a plan to level up your abilities.

Become a life-long learner, and you’ll prove you’re a disciplined, curious self-starter who’s eager to take on new challenges.

There are a million professional certifications you can earn besides a formal college degree. Find out which ones are most impressive for your career, and go get them.

If your company doesn’t offer professional development, take ownership of your career path with online courses from Coursera, GoSkills, Masterclass, or even free YouTube videos and TED Talks.

Virtually shadow coworkers to pick up new skills. Learning the ins and outs of different departments can give you a broader understanding of what your company does and what they may need help with.

So you could volunteer in cross-team projects or pitch new ones that involve multiple departments. Ask these coworkers to share their screens with you while you learn a new process. Or you can share Loom videos with each other to asynchronously cross-train together.

The more transferable skills you can add to your resume, the more capable you’ll seem. Versatile employees with myriad talents are indispensable to remote companies (and especially startups).

5. Proactively and Meaningfully Contribute 

Employee contributions were a critical factor in 75% of promotion cases in that HBR study [*]. 

So don’t hesitate to jump in and share your creative ideas, work out solutions with others, or improve your remote collaboration. Just make sure to do your homework and show up prepared for these meetings.
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Being proactive builds trust with your team and your seniors. It shows you’re working hard to stay on top of tasks without the need for micromanaging. And employees who can work autonomously are usually the ones who get a promotion. 

6. Communicate with Your Network

Strong communication skills are a must-have for anyone in a leadership or higher-up position. Bad news: remote communication can be challenging and not everyone’s forte.

However, it’s in your best interest to build relationships with your coworkers, leaders, and clients. 

Researchers in that HBR study learned [*]:

  • Good networking — the ability to establish rapport with both people on your team and in other departments — was the driving force behind 74% of promotions.

  • Employees who put in the groundwork to build solid relationships with their seniors were 82% more likely to get promoted than colleagues who didn’t.

So besides checking in daily, weekly, or at regularly scheduled intervals to discuss milestones, tasks, and deadlines, try to strike up casual conversations to get to know your team on both professional and personal levels. Ask them what their job entails and how they got into their field. 

Make room for small talk and non-work, watercooler conversations as well. See if you have any mutual interests and common ground. And try some of these non-cheesy team-building tips for remote employees.

Dole out recognition and appreciation for your coworkersregularly, but don’t be fake about it. When your teammates go above and beyond or save the day, send them a shout-out in Slack or mention it during your next team meeting.

People will remember and reciprocate these genuine acts, boosting your odds of getting noticed as the encouraging team player you are.

Psst! Add these tips to improve remote communication with your teammates to your to-do list.

So What Are You Going To Do To Get a Promotion at a Remote Company?

You now have six tips to help you get a promotion at a remote company. Your next move: to create a game plan that checks all these boxes and enables you to stand out for all the right reasons.

However, if you implement these strategies and you’re still getting the runaround from management about a promotion, it may be time to climb a different ladder.

There are tons of fantastic remote companies hoping to recruit dedicated employees who want to advance in their careers. That sounds like you, right?

Check out the We Work Remotely job board for your next challenge. One of those remote jobs may be the promotion you’ve been gunning so hard for.

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