How to Keep Building Your Career Remotely

Hiring RemoteWorking Remotely

Want to keep building your career remotely? Follow our best career development tips for remote workers to climb the ladder & reach your goals now.

If you’re looking for tips on how to keep building your career remotely, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve seen many return-to-office fans pushing the myth that you can’t advance your career in a fully remote job. 

They say remote workers have less face time with higher-ups, can’t show up early and stay late at the office, and lack the same networking opportunities as in-house employees.

But we strongly and respectfully disagree. 

Career advancement for remote workers may look different than climbing the ladder in a traditional office. Yet it relies on the same basic principle: showing decision-makers how your unique skills add value to an organization.

So in today’s guide, we’re sharing our favorite career development strategies for remote workers who want to get ahead.

You’ll learn how to plan your career development in a virtual environment, forge the right connections, and land the remote job of your dreams.

How To Keep Building Your Career Remotely

Whether it’s a better title or a higher salary you’re chasing, these tips to advance your career in a fully remote job will help you reach your goals the smart way:

1. Start with a Vision of Your Future Career

Envisioning where you want to go in your career motivates you to take each next step. It also allows you to strategize a game plan. So here’s what we recommend:

Scope Out Your Career Path

Employees in the highest-paying remote jobs don’t land in those positions overnight. They spend years learning and acquiring the right skills and experience to beat out the competition.

So if you want to make it to the finish line, you need a roadmap to point you in the right direction.

Since remote customer service jobs are on the rise, let’s say you want to be a Director of Customer Support (a role earning an average salary of $250k per year). A typical career path may look like this:

Customer Support Specialist > Customer Support Team Leader > Customer Support Supervisor > Customer Support Manager > Director of Customer Support

You can find career paths like this for most remote roles. Then you can look up remote job ads for those titles to see exactly what the top companies are looking for.

Create SMART Career Goals

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound. They empower you to track your progress on your career path.

Once you know what it takes to climb the next rung of your career ladder, you can use those requirements as a checklist of goals to achieve.

Sticking with our example, you may have impeccable communication skills as a Customer Support Specialist. But you’ll need to prove your remote collaboration skills to snag that Team Leader position.

So one SMART goal may be taking an online class about emotional intelligence in the workplace by the end of the year. Ace that course, and you’ll have a new skill to put on your resume that will help you move forward.

Create SMART career goals for the next year, three years, five years, etc. Experts say you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down [*].

Share Your Ambitions with Leadership

Career development for remote workers isn’t a single-player game. Now that you have your career path and SMART goals, it’s time to bring in a helping hand.

After all, your manager may never know you want to be considered for a future promotion if you don’t share your short- and long-term goals.

So schedule a one-to-one to discuss your potential with the company. Ask about:

  • What areas you excel in, and which you’ll need to improve
  • Additional skills you may need for the next step
  • New projects or responsibilities you can take on
  • Cross-training opportunities 
  • Advice on how to bridge a potential knowledge gap
  • Feedback on your progress

Taking initiative here proves you’re serious about advancing with the company and in your career, which definitely comes in handy when the chance for a promotion arises.

2. Keep Adding Skills to Your Toolbelt

Professional and personal development catapult your remote career

Whether you’re picking up new skills to prepare for the future of work or upgrading your tech stack, leaders and employers look for curious candidates eager to learn.

One of the best perks of creating your personal WFH schedule is the ability to block out time for upskilling. So try to identify key areas you’d like to improve or develop from your game plan in step one.

Commit to completing new learning experiences every quarter by:

Signing Up for Online Courses

Many remote companies offer stipends for classes, books, webinars, etc. They know employees with stronger skill sets ultimately improve the entire organization.

If your company doesn’t provide upskilling opportunities, develop your skills via free online learning platforms. Check out this list of the top 45 free online courses HubSpot shared.

Taking On New Challenges, Responsibilities, and Stretch Assignments

Always be the first person to step up to the plate, especially when there’s an opportunity to invest in your career growth.

Stretch assignments build on your current talents and allow you to “stretch” into new territories.

Using our example again, if you’re a whiz at providing customer support over the phone, see if you can flex your writing skills by answering customer questions on Quora.

Acing new challenges and taking on additional responsibilities that seem out of your wheelhouse will prove to yourself and your managers that you’re proactive, determined to succeed, and capable of so much more.

3. Track and Show Off Your Career Growth

Documenting your progress on your career goals gives you concrete evidence of your growth. 

This can help motivate you when you’re facing self-doubt. And it also comes in handy when you need to negotiate a raise, compete for a promotion, or apply for a new position.

So keep a record of your big and small career wins, such as:

  • Projects you’ve completed
  • Accolades you’ve earned
  • Feedback from coworkers and leaders
  • Milestones and successes
  • Key performance indicators (KPI) measured in your role

You can store this intel in a spreadsheet or notebook. But we prefer having a visual representation of your talent in the form of a personal website or digital portfolio.

Take advantage of either to introduce yourself to the world and put all your skills on display. Keep your website or portfolio updated with:

  • Your most recent resume
  • Examples of your work
  • New courses or classes you’re taking
  • Certifications you’ve earned
  • Positive reviews, testimonials, and endorsements you’ve received

💡 If you need some inspiration, check out this guide on How To Build Your Personal Brand To Boost Your Careerand this one on How To Build Your Remote Job Portfolio To Stand Out Online.

4. Make Responsiveness & Async Communication Your Jam

To succeed in the remote work world, you’ll need to master asynchronous communication and possess a high level of responsiveness. 

These qualities tell others you’re a connected team player who’s easy to work and collaborate with. Those traits make you a practical shoo-in for career advancement.

Since this topic deserves way more attention than we can devote here, we encourage you to strengthen your async muscle with the tips in these guides:

Communication is also a must-have for our next remote career development tip:

5. Prioritize Team-Building and Networking

Relationship-building is mission: critical for your career development while working remotely. To get the same vibes as meeting around the watercooler in an office setting, the virtual work environment requires:

Making Intentional Connections with Teammates

Studies show team camaraderie increases emotional well-being, job satisfaction, and productivity while lowering work-related stress. All these perks can make you better at your job and ultimately boost your career. 

However, remote workers must often go out of their way to intentionally connect with their coworkers. To build rapport with your team:

Don’t skip the small talk. If you sign on to a meeting early, try a few icebreakers or questions to get to know your team on a personal level. Sleuth out shared interests, hobbies, pet photos, etc. 

Hype up your coworkers. Shout out your crew when they’ve done an incredible job or achieved something fantastic. They’ll appreciate the kudos; others will see you as an encouraging, supportive team member.

Schedule virtual lunch dates, coffee breaks, or happy hours together. Use this time to dish about non-work related topics and relax with each other. Your day will be more enjoyable with this socializing break, and you’ll create more trust, cohesion, and engagement. 

🤝  Check out this guide on Non-Cheesy Team-Building Tips for Remote Employees for more fun ideas!

Networking Outside Your Organization

You never know when a new person will open the right door for you. Whether recommending you for a position at their company or sharing insider intel to level up your career, it always helps to know people in the know.

To make networking more fun than intimidating:

Reach out to people you admire. Get the conversation rolling on Twitter or LinkedIn by asking thoughtful questions, responding to or sharing content they created, etc. You’ll forge new connections and maybe even find a career coach

Bonus: The more you “like,” comment, and repost, the more you’ll boost your visibility and strengthen your digital footprint. 

Join the WWR Slack community! Connect with other remote workers from all over the world to exchange ideas, discuss life as a digital nomad, brainstorm your next big career move, and more.

🫶  Psst! We think these 5 Tips for Finding a Community When You Work Remotely are pretty awesome too.

6. Research Fully Remote Companies that Foster Growth

As you grow in your career, it’s also natural to outgrow your current position or company. If your organization lacks advancement opportunities, finding a new one where you can achieve your goals may be the next step.

Luckily, remote work jobs have skyrocketed in popularity. Nearly 6,000 new remote companies posted jobs on the We Work Remotely job board in 2022 alone.

So before you quit without a plan, it helps to research the top remote companies hiring first.

Look for Remote Companies vs. Companies Allowing Remote Work

There’s a huge difference between a company with in-office workers and one with fully remote teams. 

If you’re the only remote worker, you may feel left out, unseen, or forgotten about as in-house employees enjoy pizza lunches together and snag all the promotions.

However, employees at 100% remote companies are all on the same level. Leaders know what it takes to be inclusive, engage in virtual team-building, and consider the most-qualified employees for new roles.

Find Advocates for Your Career Growth

As you start decoding the secret language of remote job descriptions, you’ll come across organizations that are more committed to your career growth than others. Those green lights include:

  • Learning stipends 
  • In-house training, cross-training, and upskilling opportunities
  • The ability to work on passion projects or interests 

Fortunately, you can check both options thanks to WWR’s company profiles. Take this example from one of the top remote companies hiring, Hotjar:

You can see they’ve been remote for five to 10 years, so they’re pros at managing remote teams across the globe. Click over to their benefits, and you’ll notice perks like a learning and development stipend. 

Even better? You can now follow your fave remote companies to see new positions as soon as they’re posted. 🙌

We Work Remotely isn’t just the number one destination to find incredible remote jobs from the best companies. We’re also committed to your career advancement in a remote work environment.

The WWR Learning Portal is loaded with free resources to help you grow in your dream remote career. So take all of today’s intel and create your roadmap to greatness now!

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