Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
Johnny C. Taylor Jr. tackles your human resources questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world's largest HR professional society and author of "Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval.”
The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor's answers below have been edited for length and clarity.
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Question: I have been working from home occasionally over the past few months. In the next few weeks, I will be switching to full time working from home. Should I be concerned with losing in-person connections and can that hurt my career? – Anton
Johnny C. Taylor Jr.: I know there are many people wrestling with this same question, so thank you for posing it. The truth is, working remotely definitely reduces worker visibility. As the adage goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Despite that, you can still advance your career while working remotely. However, it will require some creativity and proactive effort to do so.
Start by volunteering to be included in major projects or cross-functional teams within the organization. This will help you stay connected and enhance your skills and experience while working remotely.
Be camera-ready. Turn on your camera when participating in virtual meetings. Managers oftentimes equate low visibility with low productivity in the physical workplace but taking these measures can prevent that stigma.
Demonstrate commitment to your own professional development by seeking opportunities to attend training, conferences and webinars to learn or refine a skill. Compile a list of skill development activities and get feedback from your manager as to which ones would benefit you the most.
Some employers require remote workers to come into the workplace occasionally. If that is a requirement or option for you, leverage the opportunity to be seen and connect with those you may not see on a regular basis virtually.
Be more intentional about cultivating work relationships while working from home. While it may take more effort than being in the office, it isn’t impossible! Make frequent use of digital communication channels like email, text and chat applications available to you. Don’t forget about the telephone. Reaching out to key people occasionally to say thank you or give a heads up about a relevant issue makes a lasting impression. Participate in after-work social functions and ask your manager about team-building opportunities. Whether working onsite or remotely, being connected with your co-workers is invaluable.
Best of luck to you.
Q: I work at a financial services company. I am considering moving to a new job at my current company. Looking at the job description, I don't have the necessary experience. How can I approach management to inquire about getting training and experience in the area? – Bryan
Taylor: The best way to approach management is to show you’ve done your research. Be prepared.
Start with examining the job description and your skill set. Formulate a course from your current capabilities to the requirements of the prospective position. Try to get some time to speak with at least one person already in the position to get an assessment of what it entails to be proficient at their job. For example, ask about training that has been valuable and any relevant resources like books or webinars.
Also, ask if hat person belongs to any networking groups or professional organizations that relate to the position. List the experience and learning you would need and establish an action plan to pursue them. You can gain experience by shadowing a co-worker in or participate in a job rotation program where you can do the job for a period of time.
Next, sell yourself. Just as with a job interview be prepared to explain why you are a good fit for the position. Identify parallels between other work you’ve done and the job experience required.
Close the deal. Management will be looking to see your level of commitment to growing into the position. Demonstrating the considerable thought and energy you poured into developing a full understanding of the position will go a long way toward instilling confidence that you are dedicated to the process of transitioning. This will help to bridge any gaps between your current job and the prospective one. It’s one thing to be curious about a job but it’s another to put in the effort, formulate a plan and show a genuine, vested interest.
Put your best foot forward!