Pensive business woman thinks about promotion
If you've held off asking for that promotion last year, 2021 might be the your year. — Getty Images/damircudic

Last year was a difficult one for many businesses, and out of consideration, you may have put off asking for a raise or a promotion until 2021. But, as the pandemic lags on, the new dynamic of remote work may change the way your work is acknowledged and appreciated. This can make it harder to ask for a promotion when the time comes.

If you’re starting to prepare for a formal performance evaluation or seeking a promotion this year, now is the time to start planning ahead. Here are some important steps to take to get promoted in 2021.

[Read more: How to Get Promoted During a Pandemic]

Be more visible

Remote work adds an interesting wrinkle in trying to justify why you deserve a promotion. In one case study, those working remotely were more engaged than their in-office counterparts; yet, they also experienced a 50% decline in promotions. The problem? Remote workers simply don’t get the same face time and attention that those in the office receive.

To get promoted, it’s important to be both visible and low-maintenance. “With greater complexity and uncertainty at work, it’s important to be self-sufficient and reduce the burden on our managers while retaining visibility,” said one expert in Forbes. “When our work is unseen by our managers, they worry if it’s getting done or being neglected—ironically increasing their load. Instead of only submitting completed work, bring your manager along with periodic updates.”

Visibility does not mean inundating your manager with trivial updates, but it does mean responding in a timely manner, volunteering critical updates, and establishing a regular cadence of updates throughout the day or week.

Upskill yourself

Not everyone has the privilege of having more free time when they work from home. Often, working remotely comes with its own set of challenges: childcare, working with coworkers who are also remote or dealing with a shaky internet connection can make it difficult to add more to your already full plate.

If you do end up with free time, use it to upskill yourself. Take the opportunity to do some professional development in an area that demonstrates your support for the business. Think about what skills will be most valuable in the coming one to three years as your company seeks to get a handle on the newest consumer trends.

To get promoted, it’s important to be both visible and low-maintenance.

Ask for a no-raise promotion

Ideally, you’ll be compensated accordingly for your stellar work performance. But, many small business owners do not have available funding to pay for a promotion as much as they may want to give one.

You can ask for what’s known as a no-raise promotion, in which you take on more responsibility and a title change and delay the associated pay increase until the company is more financially stable. “There’s always room to ask, ‘Can we revisit this in six months when things might improve?’” said David Meintrup, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.

Alternately, you can ask for other benefits in lieu of a pay raise: training opportunities, flexible time off or permanent remote work, for instance. If, for you, success means reaching a new level in your career, a no-raise promotion may be the next best step.

[Read more: How to Ask for a Raise During a Pandemic]

Leverage an outside offer

This tactic could backfire if you aren’t strategic, and it’s important to carefully consider how you might damage any relationships with your personal and professional networks before trying this option.

If you’re approached by a recruiter or have made it to a later stage in the hiring process, be transparent with your manager earlier, rather than later. “Tip off your boss and say, ‘I just want you to know that this company is interested in me and talking about getting me an offer. And I promise I will keep you up-to-date on this,’” Hannah Riley Bowles, a senior lecturer at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government told the New York Times. “You can even ask your boss for advice about handling the outside offer, as if it’s a problem you’re both solving together.”

Make sure the opportunity that you leverage is one that you would seriously consider taking: Should negotiations turn sour, you will have a great plan to fall back on.

Ask for it

It’s entirely possible that, amidst the rapid changes brought by the pandemic, you’ve already taken on increased responsibilities and added value to your company. And, more than three-quarters of leaders report that they still plan on promoting those due for advancement this year. Getting promoted in 2021 may just be a question to raise with your supervisor. Be prepared to demonstrate how you’ve helped the company through this difficult period. The worst they can say is no.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published January 27, 2021