Across the country, most professionals have been working remotely for almost two months as a result of stay-at-home orders. As video meetings become the new normal, professionals are left to wonder if all things will continue as normal, things like raises and promotions.
Back in March, Ladders reported that it might not be the best time to ask for the raise you have been waiting for, especially if your company has had to lay off or furlough employees. The truth is, no one knows how long this pandemic will continue to keep us out of the office, so when will it be acceptable to ask for a promotion via video call?
“Many individuals are ready for a promotion…their skills are there, they have proven themselves, they have gotten the reviews that show they should be moving to the next level, but the climate may not be as conducive,” said Addie Swartz, CEO of reacHIRE. “Should you have those same expectations? I think the world has changed. Expectations should be a little different.”
So, what’s the protocol for asking for a promotion while working remotely during a pandemic?
Should you ask for a promotion during the coronavirus pandemic?
The answer to this question, like most career advice, depends on your specific situation.
“If your company is furloughing, everybody is nervous, and your boss is preoccupied, it might not be the best timing…unless the promotion that you’re asking for would lend some tremendous value that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do unless you had a different title or different set of responsibilities,” said Lida Citroen, an expert in career advancement and personal branding.
You might be wondering how to ask for a raise or promotion right now. The truth is, whether we are dealing with a global pandemic or not, it’s important to take a temperature read of your company, team, and boss.
Right now, many companies are freezing hiring, letting go of people, furloughing people, and severely looking at their spending, because no one knows how long it’s going to take for everyone to return to work.
As a result, it might not be the best time to bring up the matter of a raise or promotion, but again, that varies based on your individual situation.
“If you are up for promotion, you still have to be cognizant of the world around you,” Swartz said.
How to bring up the conversation of promotion to your boss during the coronavirus pandemic
Just because many companies aren’t thinking about promotions during this time, does not mean that you can absolutely not ask for one right now. In fact, for some people, it might be the perfect time to make this request.
“The timing of asking for a promotion is always a tricky part,” Citroen said. “Given what we’re all dealing with now, people are stressed, on edge, concerned. They’re also reinventing, repositioning, and recalculating how we’re all doing work. So, that being said, it actually could be a good opportunity if you see the company shifting and reallocating resources to say you’d like a position of more responsibility.”
The best way to bring up the topic of promotion to your boss is to discuss the timeline of what a promotion for you would look like given the current situation.
“Everyone’s timeline is delayed,” Swartz said. “Companies are putting things on hold that they might have had grand plans to do to move in new directions and invest in new ways.”
Swartz recommends that you begin the conversation by saying that you feel ready for a promotion, but note that obviously no one expected this situation to happen. Ask your manager what the new timeline for promotions and raises look like.
Swartz recommends saying something along the lines of the following:
“I was really excited about working hard towards getting promoted, but I also understand the environment around us is not what any of us expected. What do you think the timeline might look like for how I can progress in my career trajectory?”
With this type of approach, you are not being tone-deaf to what is happening around you, in the world and at your company, but are being empathetic about the situation while still sticking up for yourself and your career. With this approach, you prove to your boss that you are excited and motivated to get ahead.
“Have the conversation in an upfront, authentic, and positive way, understanding that there are a lot of other pressures on that manager,” Swartz said.
The five steps of asking for a promotion
- Know your equity. Whenever asking for a promotion or raise at a company, it’s a great idea to have an understanding of your equity at that organization. Are you even in a position to ask for a promotion right now? Citroen recommends people ask themselves five questions to answer this question:
1. What is your value?
2. Have you assessed where you are in terms of reputation in the company?
3. Are you considered a valuable employee?
4. Are you known for qualities that the company really puts high priority and high value on?
5. Are there blind spots you might not know about?
- Understand if there are relationships you need to build or repair. The second step in asking for a promotion is evaluating if there are work relationships that need to be built or repaired in order to set you up for success. We know that companies hire off of skills, they promote off of track record, but relationships still matter, and it’s important not to get complacent.”We think that because we’ve worked here, people know us, they value us, and we don’t realize that there were some blind spots in terms of relationships,” Citroen said.
- You are not seeing your coworkers every day, so it’s more important than ever to reach out and strengthen those key relationships.“You’re only going to have a finite amount of time and opportunity to advocate for yourself, so having other people do that for you is going to be more important in these times,” Citroen said.
- Be clear about what your goals and values are. “Oftentimes we assume people know what we’re passionate about, what we’re good at and what we’re committed to, but everybody’s distracted right now,” Citroen said. “In order to make a case for why you should be promoted, given where the country is, be really clear about what you stand for, what you can offer, and how that equals value to the company and team.”
- Have the data ready.“If the company is headed for a down spin, or is starting to lay people off, make sure you have information that supports why you should get a promotion now and why you’re a good candidate,” Citroen said. Another important aspect right now is to think and talk in the long term. As much as companies today are asking themselves how to get through the next 30 days, they are also looking forward to the day when things do feel like some kind of a normal. If your CEO or any leadership has made statements about the future of the company, you should work to make an argument for how your promotion supports that message.
- Have the conversation. The final step is to ask. Keep in mind that your boss is not thinking about you as much as you’re thinking about you.“You have to make the ask in an intelligent way, understanding what the assets are, the relationships in place, and showing your boss how a promotion actually makes sense for the company, but also for you,” Citroen said.
What to do if you feel like your work is being overlooked while working remotely
Working remotely is nice, but it also poses some challenges. When you go to your own kitchen to grab a glass of water, you might run into your cat, but there’s no chance for you to connect with your manager or another coworker. As a result, you have to go the extra mile to think about how your work can get some visibility.
Here are some ideas of how to get extra visibility at work while working remotely:
- Ask someone if they have 15 minutes to hop on a video call. You can ask this person to tell you more about what they have been up to, or ask their advice on the project that you have been working on. “People love to give their opinions and people can always find 15 minutes,” Swartz said.
- Send a weekly email to key leaders or stakeholders in the department that you work in. In this email, you can include things that you have accomplished this week, projects you have worked on, or identify an area that you think can use a little more attention.
“Instead of just doing a description of what you spent your time on, include the impact of the things that you’re working on,” Swartz said.
- Volunteer to run a program in a special interest group at your company. Right now, companies may have causes that they are donating time, energy, and effort to, and you can sometimes gain great visibility by running programs in those special interest groups. You can gather a group to talk about an issue, and even reach out to see if someone notable will speak to your group. “There are a lot of webinars now, and they’re getting really famous people. Why? People don’t have to travel. They can just do it from their own chair,” Swartz said.
In addition to helping your work stand out, now is also a great time to volunteer to take on more work. Think about it you don’t have a commute, can’t go out to dinner with your friends, and can’t go to the gym. When will you ever have this much free time again?
“There are great opportunities in the face of crisis,” Swartz said. “This might just be the time to overextend yourself, to raise your hand, offer to do more, see that something that is not being covered and say ‘I noticed that that area is not being covered.'”
Employers notice those who are willing to go the extra mile while keeping in mind what’s best for the company in the longterm.
“Keep your eyes open and go after opportunities that you might uncover that no one presents to you, but that you can own and drive,” Swartz said.
Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.