Career scaling can mean a lot of things. Whether it's the traditional path (i.e., entry level > mid-level > senior level > C-suite > ruler of all things) or it's a more unique, curvy path that resembles a go-kart track, it can be a scary and confusing process thinking about what the next big step will be.
- Will I go for that promotion?
- Am I qualified to take on this role?
- Will I take the leap to the new department?
- Should I leave my job for a better opportunity?
As if thinking about the whole trajectory of your career and how you'll spend the next 20-some years of your professional life isn't daunting enough, add in the fact that it could also be fully remote, in today’s day and age. Nothing like starting a new job and never meeting your coworkers in person (unless you work at SmartBug®, and then you get to see them at the best event ever created: SmartBugaPalooza).
The Perks of Remote Work
I personally love remote work. You never have to leave your house. You never have to brush the back of your head ... I mean, who will see it? And the best one: You never have to wear pants. Now, I know what you're thinking—“my gosh, she's an introvert”—well yes, yes I am. But I’m an extroverted introvert, to be exact.
Other than the 30-minute commute I had, I didn't mind being in the office. It was great to see my work-wife and talk about everything from client work to our dogs to weekend plans. It was also a great opportunity to collaborate with team members and be together in person while we brainstormed our next big project for a client. It really wasn't bad.
But then I got pregnant and really leaned into the whole morning sickness part. Thankfully, my boss was understanding and had no problem with me working from the privacy of my own bathroom—ah, I mean home. Then, COVID-19 happened. You remember that whole global pandemic thing, right? Having a baby in September 2020 and coming back from maternity leave the following January, I was not comfortable going back into the office with a 3-month-old at home.
COVID-19 essentially cemented my job to be fully remote, full-time, forever, and always. When I started my job search about a year later, I not only needed to scale up my career but also find one that accommodated both being a working mom, as well as the perk of staying remote. I became accustomed to it, and for me, it was instantaneous. Like I said before, not having a 30-minute commute and being able to roll out of bed 10 minutes before I had to start working (ya know, pre-baby) was glorious.
And in all honesty, remote life is actually all it's cracked up to be. It gives you autonomy. It makes you stay accountable for your work and work harder knowing there isn't someone looking over your shoulder, making sure you're not checking out some Instagram influencer again. You get to do your work on your time and, hey, if you want to fold laundry while watching a training video, go for it, you multitasker.
Top 7 Tips for Career Scaling at a Remote Job
Although remote work gives you these incredible perks, it's important to understand how to scale your career and make sure you're always moving in the right direction for you. You won't have that boss behind you to hold you accountable, so you need to understand what you can do to continue to grow your career.
1. Tackle the hard stuff first.
It's easy to push off the scary or more challenging tasks—but don't do it! Tackle them head-on. Take advantage of the mornings when it tends to be quieter, allowing you to focus more and really get those juices flowing. Plus, you get that sense of accomplishment to carry you through the afternoon slump.
2. Constantly ask for feedback and be willing to listen (really listen to it).
After giving a presentation, ask what you could have done differently. By understanding where you need to make adjustments, you'll be able to focus on those pieces and really hone your craft while also holding yourself accountable for your work and progress.
3. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there.
This blog article, for instance, is out of my comfort zone, but here I am. It's really easy to let the anxiety monster get the best of you and convince you to sit on the bench. My best advice: Push through it! Take the leap. Bite the bullet. Jump in with both feet—heck, cannonball in!
I promise you, you will not be upset you took that leap. It may be scary for the first five minutes, but then a whole new experience opens up and gives you the perspective you most likely wouldn't have had if you stayed back on the bench. This perspective is huge for career scaling. No VIP or CEO got to where they are by watching their team members play the game.
4. Take advantage of professional development opportunities.
Actually watch the videos, attend the training your company holds, and read the educational articles. Constantly better your knowledge so you can use it to enhance your work and give you confidence in those more challenging situations.
Slow day? Don't turn to the TV or Instagram. It's easy to do when you're not constantly in your boss's presence, but how does that help you? Yeah, you get a good laugh watching a Friends rerun or maybe you get sucked into an influencer's story and end up spending the money you're supposed to be earning right now, on some ridiculous outfit you're never going to wear. Sure, it's fun and all, but it doesn't help you scale up your career.
Fun Fact: By focusing on your professional education, you won't have to hurry up and hide from your significant other all of the “I was influenced” packages that magically show up at your door a week later.
5. Let your work speak for itself.
Show up for work every day, mentally, physically, and emotionally. How you work when no one is watching is not only a testament to your character and values, but it’s also going to be one of the biggest factors when it comes to scaling your career. People want to know they can trust and rely on you (and you know what you’re doing).
Don’t just show up. Do work that you're proud to put your name on. Let your passion shine through your work, and give your full attention to everything you do. It can be the difference between what holds you back and what takes you to that next great step in your career.
6. Get to know your team.
Don't silo yourself—it's incredibly easy to do when you’re working remotely. But if you make the effort to show up to those IRLs and virtual happy hours, check in on your coworkers and take an interest in their life, and work on cultivating your relationships, you are not only building your community but also making your work much more enjoyable. Culture is everything, and you can miss out on an incredible work culture because you “don't really feel like going.”
If you’re feeling lost or need a little more guidance on how to do this, join your company’s mentorship program. It makes all the difference to have a mentor who had the same goals as you and who can help you through the steps to meet them. (Not to toot our own horn, but SmartBug has an amazing mentorship program!)
This also applies to your clients. Get to know them, too, and build that relationship. Yes, you are there to do business, but it's not all about business. It's about building trust with one another and learning how the other works and operates. Taking the first 5-10 minutes of each meeting to ask them about their family, weekend, dog, or cat (if you're one of those people) can be a simple step in building a relationship and creating an inviting environment.
7. Give it time.
I don't know about you, but I am not a patient person. I want to get where I'm going as quickly as possible. But when it comes to remote work, take a step back and invest the time to learn your job inside and out. Really master your skills at this current level and then work toward scaling up your career. Most of the time, you'll need the skills you're mastering now to be effective in the next role.
All in all, we all have different career paths and goals, but here’s the great thing: There are commonalities in how people scale their careers and make an impact in their professional lives. Working toward the next leap in your career doesn't have to be intimidating. Try out these seven steps—they may just help you scale up!
P.S. If you’re looking for an opportunity to work remotely for a company that invests the time to help you scale your career and really cares about you, check out SmartBug. That’s right—we’re hiring!