How to get promoted when you work from home

One of the dangers of working from home is that it is more difficult to move your career forward. “Out of sight, Out of mind” often applies to telecommuters. What options are available to the upwardly mobile teleworker? How do you set yourself up for promotion when the odds are stacked against you?

I’m glad you asked. It turns out that the steps that are necessary to get promoted when you work from home are the same as those that are necessary to get promoted when you work in an office. Like everything else however, the telecommuter must work smarter.

Here are the 3 steps to getting promoted:

1. Be valuable.

This is obvious. You must do good work, have a good work ethic, and be a real value to your company. Most people stop here assuming that their work speaks for itself. Don’t make that mistake. You must proceed to step two.

2. Be visible.

You must market yourself and your work. You must make your presence felt by making sure you are working on visible projects. And finally, you must network and build relationships across the organization (and beyond). Know what other people are working on and be sure they know what you are doing.

3. Ask for the promotion.

You are doing good work; people know it and you have paid your dues. Don’t stop there. If you want to be promoted, you have to ask for it. This is where most people drop the ball. For some reason people are afraid to ask for what they want.

How do you ask? First of all, remember you are asking, not demanding. Second, think of this as a process and not necessarily an event.

Set up time with your boss to discuss your career plans. Tell them your goals and ask them for concrete steps you can take to reach them. Listen to what your boss says. Write down their suggestions. Create a promotion road-map. Be specific. Revisit this road map with them on a regular basis as you achieve milestones. This strategy works because they become invested in the process and you learn exactly what is expected of you.

The above strategy works if you expect to get a promotion from your boss, but in today’s broad flat organizations that is a lot less likely. Your best opportunities may be elsewhere in the organization which is why it is so important to cultivate your network and relationships. If you can find a mentor you can have a similar conversation as above.

At the end of the day, being in the right place at the right time is often the way that promotions happen. The office in your home can be the right place, but you must work harder and smarter to convince the traditionalists.

This post in conjunction with the “how to” group writing project.

10 thoughts on “How to get promoted when you work from home”

  1. Good post.
    Are you referring to consultants or employees or both?
    I do consultancy and most of it is from home. I reckon that the most important thing is to produce high quality work consistantly.
    If you are ‘out of sight’ you have to constantly remind people of your value.

  2. Good post.

    Plus, I think it’s all too easy for employers to overlook homeworkers for promotions as they may feel that the “benefit” of working from home outweighs any promotion they may deserve

  3. I think it is definitely harder and you can’t use many of the same things you would have used to get promoted in a traditional work setting. Of course you could just work for yourself and set your own fees too ;). Our list is up as well if you’d like to check it out!!

  4. Great post! I want to work from home someday but for myself. When you say a promotion, what is your definition of it? I know what a promotion is. I am wondering because what if there aren’t any positions open above you? That is the scenario I am in. I still work at work, but there is no room for growth/promotion for 5-10 years. What are your thoughts? My How To is up if you want to check it out. Thanks for your contribution to the group writing project.

  5. Dominic – I tried to make the advice useful to any audience, ie teleworkers, office workers, consultants, internal employees.

    Katy – I think you are right. Some office workers see working at home as a “benefit”, others don’t trust people working from home, and then there are some people that simply can’t manage what they can’t see. To get promoted you need to overcome all of those obstacles.

    Mamaduck – One of the biggest “things” you can’t do is socialize. It is much easier to make a good impression on people in person than over a teleconference. There is a lot of unofficial communication that can occur in the hallway, at the lunch table and perhaps over a beer after work. Of course, if all your communication is over the phone you have more control over what kind of impression you make. When I first met my co-workers of 3 years, they thought I would be 20 years older and fat. Go figure.

    Matt – I tried to take a loose definition of promotion too. Traditional promotions are a much rarer thing than they used to be. With todays horizontal and global organizations a promotion can be a special project, a lateral move, gaining direct reports, moving to a different department, or even going to another company or working for yourself. In all cases you still need to be valuable, be visible and most importantly – Ask.


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