Although remote work offers perks that traditional work can’t—such as flexibility and work-life balance—concerns still linger: visibility and career advancement. To exacerbate problems, the COVID-19 pandemic has made these two facets even more concerning. As a remote worker, you don’t meet with management face to face, and your quality work may go unnoticed. But just take a deep breath and relax! You can still advance your career as a remote worker with these tips, as well as maintain your opportunity for a promotion and get the recognition you deserve.
1. Build Your Skill Set
When you work traditional office jobs, you may have more opportunities to build your skills. Many companies provide a stipend or reimbursement program for college courses or online certifications. While your remote employer may extend these offers to you, other virtual gigs are on a contractual or freelance basis. As a result, the onus of building your skill set falls on your shoulders. You need to constantly improve your knowledge and stay up-to-date on trends and industry-specific software. Otherwise, you stagnate or get left in the dust compared to your colleagues.
But before you start signing up for online classes or certifications, you should first decide whether the education and knowledge are worth the effort. The internet is rife with certifications and courses that claim to give you an upper hand on your competitors and the ability to advance your career as a remote worker. However, many of these aren’t as useful as they may seem. Some aren’t industry-recognized, and others require a hefty payment for materials you can often find for free on the internet.
Therefore, the best way to choose your online classes is by viewing job descriptions of your dream role. Within these descriptions, you can see what extra certifications or knowledge you need. While some of these certifications are available through the manufacturer of the product (HootSuite Certification, Slack Certification), others you can find on educational platforms. Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning all provide programs and assessments that can turn you from an outsider into an expert.
Actionable Steps: Choose an industry-recognized certification program or educational classes. Then, ensure that these programs will advance your career before you sign up. Finally, put all of your extra efforts into mastering these skills and acing the exams.
2. Make Sure You’re in the Right Industry
Passions change over time. It’s an inevitability, yet one that’s often overlooked. But when you’ve already put years or decades into a career path, the thought that you’re interested in something else can seem overwhelming. You may feel guilt or that you’ve wasted time. Overcoming these feelings can seem equally as daunting.
But staying in an industry or job that no longer intrigues you isn’t a great idea for your mental health or your future. And pining over your past decisions only compounds the problem. Therefore, you should ask yourself a few questions to see if you’re on the right path:
- Does your job use your strengths and build upon them?
- Does your job allow you a sense of autonomy and/or work-life balance?
- Do you have a sense of purpose or belonging in your industry or job?
If you answer negatively to all of these questions, you might be pursuing a career path that’s not going to provide happiness or fulfillment. That’s problematic. This is when you might want to start searching for a different job or industry. Switching careers isn’t easy. But if it’s for a job you love and a career path that you’re motivated to pursue, the change is worth the effort.
Actionable Steps: Do some soul-searching to see if your current job aligns with your career goals or passion. If not, take time to review other potential avenues to advance your career while working remotely.
3. Continue Strong, Detail-Oriented Work
Although remote work affords the opportunity to work in your pajamas if you please, it’s not always a great method to do strong work or build a portfolio. Even as a remote worker, you should dress for success—at least occasionally. Waking up, not showering, and blindly combing through work and social media isn’t going to cut it. You need a game plan. And in most instances, this should align with a routine that’s similar to a traditional job. To achieve this, follow these tips:
- Get up somewhat early—so you can be ready to work, but still in the a.m. hours
- Shower, shave, and do the rest of your normal morning routine
- Get dressed appropriately (you don’t have to wear a suit, but at least wear something that’s appropriate for video-conferencing)
- Eat a nutritious breakfast to fuel your day
- Set a list of tasks you need to complete
- Take breaks
- Know when to call it a day
In addition to this morning routine, you should also try to have a dedicated office space, even if it’s just your dining room table. All of these can contribute to strong work throughout the day. Remember to take breaks, meditate, and relax intermittently. Then, set a time to close up shop. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed or continuously work without time to socialize or do other things away from the office.
Actionable Steps: Have a morning routine, take breaks, and know when to close down work for the day. By following these steps, you can maximize your productivity and mental/physical well-being, as well as advance your career as a remote worker. When you’re constantly making strides in your work and completing projects ahead of time, your employer or client will notice.
4. Increase Your Visibility
Visibility to management is excruciatingly difficult at times as a remote worker. You rarely have the chance to meet with others face to face, and even asking other departments or individuals for assistance doesn’t always work. Therefore, you need other ways to improve your visibility. For instance, online social gatherings allow you to showcase your personality and fervor for the job. You should also try to communicate with management about any projects and present any ideas that may streamline productivity.
Actionable Steps: If possible, you should make every effort to attend online chats with your colleagues, as well as any games or water cooler chats that are organized throughout the year. But don’t just show up. Talk with your co-workers and managers about work and interests, and build a camaraderie that can boost your visibility throughout the company. Plus, managers never turn down a bit of innovation and ingenuity to bolster certain projects.
5. Volunteer for Extra Work and Assignments
Volunteering will almost always endear you to management, boost your visibility, and allow you to advance your career as a remote worker. This doesn’t mean you have to spend all your free time completing extra projects. But if you have some free time or a few hours to spare, this gesture will show that you’re a team player.
Actionable Steps: Sometimes, it’s not how often you volunteer. It’s what you volunteer for. Projects that allow you to cross-train or build your skill set in numerous areas are often more beneficial than busywork projects. Still, if your employer needs work done, your willingness to participate will help you build your visibility and create a path toward career advancement.
6. Expand Your Professional Network
The COVID-19 pandemic all but shut down networking events, seminars, and industry conferences. Yet even with this potential loss of networking, you can still expand your professional network online. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook are two valuable networking tools. If you’re on Facebook, use the search bar to look for professional or enthusiast groups in your particular job or industry. In the same vein, utilize LinkedIn to follow industry leaders, as well as connect with friends or former co-workers who can give you leads on job postings or freelance projects.
Actionable Steps: Expand your professional network with social media. However, you’ll want to clean the unprofessional material from these platforms. If you need help, let Virtual Vocations’s career services rewrite your LinkedIn profile to attract clients and recruiters, as well as appear professional to potential employers.
7. Focus on Mental Health and Well-Being
Mindfulness practices are the ideal way to focus on your mental health and well-being. While you may not think of mental well-being as a potential hurdle to your career advancement as a remote worker, feeling anxious or constantly stressed can take its toll. As a result, you’ll want to take steps to focus on your mental health and well-being, whether it’s on your own or with resources from your company.
Actionable Steps: Mental health and well-being are an essential way to advance your career as a remote worker. So take some time during your day to unwind and relax. Yoga, light exercise, and meditation are just a few ways to focus on your mental health. Intertwine these ideas into your normal routine, and you just might find more productivity and a zest for work.
8. Build Bonds With Your Remote Team
Few people stay in the same job or within the same company for their entire career. In fact, 64% of workers favor job-hopping to a career with one company, especially millennials. With all of these co-workers learning new skills and going from one job to the next, you never know how bonding with your co-workers could give you a potential “in” at your next job.
Actionable Steps: If you need help with a project, don’t hesitate to contact other members of your remote team. Not only can you expand your knowledge, but you can build a camaraderie that may advance your career at some time in the future. While you may initially reach out with work-related questions, more light-hearted conversations are ideal to make long-lasting work relationships and friendships.
Advancing your career as a remote worker may not be as easy as it is in traditional job settings, but it’s still entirely achievable. So volunteer when you can, improve your skill set, and build your visibility. The next step in your career is right in front of you.
iStock Image: Yuliya Apanasenko, EtiAmmos,
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