How to Advance Your Career in Remote Working Times

These are difficult times for all of as we navigate our way through day after day, week after week of sheltering in place. Over the past two months, we’ve seen many of our friends, family members and former colleagues face reduced work hours, unpaid furloughs or even layoffs.

On the flip side, many of those fortunate enough to still have a job are finding that they’re picking up extra work as a result of these changes while companies find ways to whether the economic storm accompanying the pandemic. And for some of those employees, they may be in line for annual performance or salary reviews.

To help shed light on how those facing similar circumstances can advance their careers while working remotely, I sat down – virtually, of course – with Holly Saultman, a technical recruiter with Prime Team Partners, a staffing solutions firm that helps find new and exciting career opportunities for technology professionals throughout the United States.

It’s great to chat with you again, Holly. First, thank you so much for all that you have done – and continue to do for the New Tech community. You have been such a tremendous friend to us over the years – appreciate you making time today. To start, are promotions even happening right now? If so, how?

It’s an interesting conversation to navigate. In my opinion, those people that adapt well to learning new technologies and those people that are willing to jump in and offer solutions for leadership, they are the people that I think will get recognized for promotions at this time.

But it’s important to have the big picture in mind. There’s a lot we don’t know right now. We don’t know when we’re going back to work – and we’re seeing people get cut. For example, if you work a small or medium sized business that recently applied for a Payroll Protection Program loan to make payroll, I would feel really uncomfortable asking for a promotion.

Now, if it’s a title change, that’s different and I think it’s an easier conversation to have during this time. Employers are looking at their overall assets, and people are an asset. We are seeing what some call “trimming the fat” or reducing costs where it makes sense. When it comes to promotions, I would expect we will see title changes as folks are taking on more responsibility.  As a result, I think promotions are going to come naturally.

Right now, there’s a shortage of jobs and an oversupply of people. And the economics of that tells me I should not be going and asking for more money right now. But I think it will be those people that jump in and help the organization in these challenging times that will be in line for the monetary promotions when things turn around.

For many of us, these are difficult conversations to have even under “normal” circumstances. Aren’t they even more difficult remotely in these uncertain times?

I always coach people and encourage them to find one or two recruiters that they really like and trust and call them when it comes time for a promotion or performance review. Before you consider having a conversation about advancement, call your recruiter first and ask them, “What is my worth and value right now? This is how much I’m making. What is reasonable for someone like me?” I am usually more than happy to coach people before they go into those conversations. Many may not realize it but there are some really good reasons, like this, to stay in contact with a recruiter – besides just looking for a job.

For someone that maybe hasn’t worked with a recruiter before, where can they go to find a good recruiter that can serve as a trusted advisor?

I would say to find a recruiter like that you’re going to have to go out and meet them. The New Tech Job Fairs are a great way to do that! I would also remind people that there’s a difference between an agency recruiter and a corporate recruiter. For most agency recruiters, if you’re not helping them place that “purple squirrel,” then they may not take the time to help you in that way. That said, when I have folks who reach out to check in on the market or get an update, if it is not an immediate need for our clients then I will volunteer my off time over lunch, after 5 p.m., or a weekend to support my network and past placements.

If you don’t yet have a recruiter that can serve as that trusted advisor, I always tell people to go to your most recent recruiter first. Go back and check your LinkedIn inbox and see who pinged you a year ago when you made that move. Or start by talking to your former hiring manager and ask for feedback: “What was I really good at when I worked with you last? What were my blockers?” You’re going to find that they will often remind us of some of the core qualities that we tend to forget. Start with maybe one or two of your past recruiters, former managers or co-workers, or team leaders and ask them some of these questions. 

This is really valuable insight. Thank you again for taking time to share your perspective and expertise with the New Tech Community. Stay safe and be well!

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