9 Steps Toward Getting Promoted as a Telecommuter

Asking for a promotion is hard enough, but getting promoted while working from home can seem even more challenging. This article helps telecommuters think about their next move and position themselves for career advancement.

9 Steps Toward Getting Promoted as a Telecommuter

Jeff Haden, author and contributing editor for Inc., says that attitude is everything when you want to get promoted. Before you even think about salary and titles, Haden suggests that you work on personality traits, such as:

  • Helpfulness
  • Humility
  • Optimism
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability

As a telecommuter, even when you feel you’ve achieved all Haden’s criteria, you may still lack the confidence to ask for a promotion. However, working from home does not put you at a disadvantage. You follow the same steps and face the same challenges as any office dweller. All you need is an effective proposal strategy.

For example, consider the following three-phase strategy:

  1. Build Phase: Boost your credentials, become more actively involved in your team, and reflect on what you want in life and career.
  2. Research Phase: Look up company policies, get a mentor, and research what you’re worth based on your credentials.
  3. Communicate Phase: Discuss your options with your manager and present a proposal or request for evaluation.

Read on for specific steps to take during each phase and resources to help you excel in your telecommuting career.

1. Know What You Want

Phase: Build

Knowing exactly what you want makes pitching a promotion easier.

How much money do you want to make? What title do you want to have? What are your overall career goals for the short- and long-term? The more you know yourself and what you truly want, the more confident you’ll be when creating and presenting your proposal.

Even if your manager takes you underwing and helps push you toward success, you want to ensure that you’re advancing along a path that aligns with your life and career aspirations. For example, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that 63% of survey respondents would rather get promoted with no pay increase than move up the pay grade with no promotion. If you’re among such employees, then your strategy may be different from others with only salary-based goals.

2. Make Your Effort More Visible

Phase: Build

Visibility reminds managers that you exist and are actively engaged in your job.

Telecommuters aren’t physically visible to managers and executives, so it can be hard to show the true extent of your hard work. The best way to maintain visibility is to communicate frequently with team members. Get on all the chat threads, request meetings and phone calls regularly, reply to emails promptly, participate in online activities, and give feedback when requested. Your team won’t even realize you work remotely if you stay connected and active in conversations.

If you work for a virtual company, managers and team members may not need as much validation as those who work in traditional offices. However, you still want to put your best face forward and show that you are engaged in your work.

Related: 17 Tips for Staying Connected While Working from Home

3. Offer Fresh Ideas

Phase: Build

Companies like employees who can put them on the cutting edge and drive revenue.

Do you have ideas on how to make processes more efficient or sell more products to customers? Organize your thoughts and pitch your best ideas to your team or manager. Add your pitch to the next scheduled meeting or send an invite for a quick team huddle. Succinctly present the problem, your proposed solution, high-level implementation steps, and estimated level of effort. Be prepared to answer questions, describe possible scenarios, and adapt the idea to feedback.

When you initiate discussions and propose new ideas, you demonstrate leadership, analytical thinking, ambition, and loyalty to the company. Management may not accept your proposal or agree with you, but they’ll definitely notice your drive for success and continuous improvement.

4. Earn More Credentials

Phase: Build

Credentials validate your knowledge and skills and boost your professional profile.

When you determine your general career direction, add some letters after your name to distinguish yourself in the industry. There are dozens of professional certifications, skills tests, and degree programs for almost every occupation. Take some online classes, attend workshops, or complete a certification exam to prove that you’re vested in your own development and can offer the company more than your job description.

Related: Online Courses: 4 Tips for Taking Your Remote Career to the Next Level

5. Know What You’re Worth

Phase: Research

It helps to price yourself based on job market trends and national employment data.

You can’t expect a promotion or increase in pay simply because you’ve worked at a company for a few years. Though some companies offer promotional tiers based on employee performance reviews, you still need to know what you’re worth compared to industry standards.

Evaluate your knowledge, experience, and the value you add to the team. Then, look at your salary and other employment perks and compare the numbers to national averages. Use resources like PayScale and the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) to research median salaries based on title, career level, and education. Use the information to set a target wage or salary that you believe you are worth. For example, if you make $10,000 less than the average employee in your profession with similar credentials, you may have a lot of negotiating power. However, if you lack industry experience and education, you may have to take baby steps or beef up your CV before asking for a pay increase.

6. Research Company Policies

Phase: Research

If your company has protocols for earning and requesting promotions, you need to follow them.

Contact your human resources department about promotion policies and if there is a career advancement process in place. Some companies don’t advertise their promotion practices to employees, but many have set procedures. Know what the company expects of you and start checking off the boxes.

Some organizations promote employees based on tenure, though research agencies like Gallup frown upon using time as the primary criterion for management capability. If your company requires you to work in your current position for a defined number of years before promotion is even possible, you can either use that time to earn more credentials, take on leadership roles, and rub elbows with influential people; or you can challenge the policy and present your proposal whenever you believe you are ready.

7. Consult a Successful Coworker

Phase: Research

Learn from someone who has been promoted within your company to avoid mistakes and devise a winning plan.

Find a promotion mentor, so to speak, to get a first-hand account of what the process entails. Maybe it’s easier than you think, and you’re stressing out for nothing. Perhaps it’s grueling, and you need to prepare visual charts and measurable data. It’s helpful to talk to someone who has been down the path before, especially if your company doesn’t have a formal process in place.

Treat your helpful coworker to a virtual lunch (i.e., email a gift card to a coffee shop or restaurant) and ask questions like:

  • When and why did you believe you were ready for a promotion?
  • How and who did you ask?
  • Did you prepare any formal presentations or documents?

You may want to replicate some actions, or you may discover that you need a fresh approach. Either way, it’s great to get feedback from someone who has been there before and lived to tell the tale.

8. Talk to Your Manager

Phase: Communicate

Your manager can be your best ally when pitching higher pay or positions.

Hopefully, you developed a good relationship with your manager or supervisor way back in the build phase. If not, it’s never too late to start.

One way to butter up your manager is to share your goals and ask for advice. At first, it may seem awkward to reveal your end goal, and you may fear that your manager will think you’re trying to take his or her job. However, keep in mind that your manager may be looking to advance in his or her career, too. So, if he or she knows that you’re looking to climb, your manager just might pull you up the ranks alongside.

Regardless of your manager’s career intentions, he or she knows your work ethic better than anyone else and can vouch for you. So, approach your manager with confidence, speak honestly, and directly ask for feedback on your proposal.

Related: The Telecommuting Pitch: Convincing Your Boss to Support Remote Work

9. Ask for a Promotion

Phase: Communicate

You’re never going to get a promotion if you don’t ask for one!

Once you’ve built solid relationships, made yourself irreplaceable, and did thorough research, the next step is to ask for the promotion. Develop a plan, presentation, and negotiation strategy and gather evidence to back up your proposal. Consider creating a formal presentation and practicing to your manager first, then scheduling an official meeting with executives who sign your paycheck.

During your pitch, restructure how you tell company leaders about your qualifications and why you deserve more money or a chance to manage a team. Consider presenting a new idea, a refined way to manage a process, or a list of lessons learned from your experience, and then explain how you can help the company excel, earn more revenue, and decrease costs. When you present yourself as a problem-solver who can benefit the company, you’re more likely to sustain your audience’s attention.

Looking for a Clear Path Toward Telecommuting Success?

Though success usually doesn’t happen overnight – it typically takes time and repeated effort to reach meaningful goals – there are ways to clear a path and make your journey more efficient. For help on how to set yourself up for telecommuting success, check out the following resources located in the Telecommute Toolkit:

  • The Telecommuting Handbook – A comprehensive guide on how to get started with remote work
  • Getting Started with Telecommuting E-Course – An email course that walks you through the remote job search process
  • Telecommute Proposal Packet – A guide to help you pitch a remote option to your current employer

Get access to these and dozens of other resources and services by signing up as a Premium Virtual Vocations Member.

Have you received a promotion as a telecommuterConnect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to share your story. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credit: 1. iStock.com/matdesign24


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