How can you climb the ladder and not become “out of sight, out of mind“?
Maintaining a stable career while moving with the military is a dilemma for many spouses. Scoring that portable job can be a huge win. But once you are working from home, how can you ensure you remain visible?
After marrying into the Air Force, I had to move from LA, where I was working successfully as a PR executive, to our new duty station in Oklahoma City. I was worried about continuing to grow in my career while being in a permanent remote position. Here are some techniques that helped me:
1. Get involved in tasks outside your day-to-day role.
Since I couldn’t see my co-workers in the hallways, it would have been easy to get lost in the virtual universe. To maintain visibility, I had to raise my hand for some tasks outside of my usual role. This sometimes meant joining an extra brainstorm session with another team or offering to lead a “lunch and learn” virtually.
Megan Young, an Air Force spouse who works remotely for a global non-profit, has been promoted within her organization and takes advantage of their development opportunities.
“I feel very fortunate that my organization is committed to developing its employees,” explains Young. “We also recently hosted a virtual book club with our affiliate partners which was a great opportunity to think through how I can improve my work.”
2. Schedule regular check-ins and be active during meetings.
While working remotely, I was still managing team members. Scheduling check-ins every Monday ensured I was staying connected and helping them prioritize their workload. It also helped me connect personally, engaging in typical “water cooler” conversation that I would otherwise miss.
Heather Greenwood, an Air Force spouse and speech language pathologist for a teletherapy company, says,
“being an active participant in Zoom meetings, using social media, and doing frequent email check- ins have ensured my visibility with my organization.”
3. Be proactive with your manager.
I was fortunate to have fantastic managers who were just as invested as I was in my career trajectory. We spoke openly and regularly about my career goals. Make sure you have a manager who supports remote workers and who you trust is championing you among the senior leadership team.
4. Make the most of in-person office visits.
Inevitably you might have to make business trips to visit with colleagues in-person. Make the most of that time. During office visits, I reached out to senior executives to chat. I brought them up to speed on what I was working on, asked advice, and learned their priorities. This helped keep me top of mind.
5. Understand your benefits.
Young also advises that when taking any full-time position with benefits, military spouses should be educated on policies regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and military service.
“While my husband was deployed, my son’s daycare unexpectedly closed and I initially had challenges finding a new place for him to go,” recalls Young. “My company’s benefits administrator took the time to talk with me about my qualification for FMLA given the circumstances and coached me through the steps I would need to take if I needed to take advantage of that benefit.”
Whether in the office or remote, being assertive, advocating for yourself, being informed and taking risks can help any employee remain visible and achieve growth.