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How to deal with a promotion being put on hold as a result of the pandemic

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Around the world careers are being put on hold, as companies tighten their belts and shelve plans to promote or give pay raises to their employees. 

It might be understandable — in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic which has now infected more than 6.2 million people worldwide — but it's still a difficult situation to be in. So CNBC asked the experts how best to deal with it. 

Hearing that you won't be getting a promotion for some time may feel like the coronavirus has hit pause on yet another aspect of your life, which can be hard to digest if you were on track to take the next step in your career. 

However, Andres Lares, managing partner at the Shapiro Negotiations Institute consultancy, encouraged "taking a step back" initially to appreciate the wider context in which this decision was made. 

For instance, many companies have announced mass layoffs. In the U.S. alone, more than 40 million people have filed jobless claims since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Naturally, as human beings our instinct is to focus on the things impacting us personally, which can mean we forget about the wider situation around us, Lares explained. So even just taking into account what your boss or colleagues are going through can help ensure you react and discuss next steps in a sensitive and empathetic way.

Rhiannon Evans, a career coach at Hiraeth Coaching, also recommended recognizing the positives in the current situation, such as still having a job, not having to commute to work and the ability to work differently from home. 

SWOT analysis

Lares said that doing your own "SWOT analysis" — listing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — can help to make any alternative options clearer. 

Evans similarly recommended using this time, while many people are still working from home, to reflect on what you do well and what you could improve upon in your role, "so that when promotions are back on the table you're in a good position to make your case." 

The workplace will likely be very different when you do return, she said, so it's useful to consider what you've learned from working remotely and how that can be reapplied in the office. 

"You want to return to the office being seen as someone that added value during a challenging time," she added. 

Offering to help plan the return to the office, or putting forward ways to maintain the work-life balance that some people have enjoyed while working from home, are some examples she suggested. 

Have a timeline

Setting up a rough timeline of when to revisit the subject of a promotion with your boss can help keep the momentum of the discussion going, said Lares. He suggested almost scripting out everything you want to say in these conversations and mapping out the different possible outcomes, as this can also help manage expectations.

Suggesting alternatives to a full promotion, such as changing your title and getting a pay increase at a later date, or moving to a "hybrid" role, which accomplishes a couple of your goals, can be a positive middle ground, he added.

Meanwhile, Namrata Murlidhar, a director at LinkedIn, encouraged reaching out to colleagues in a similar role to the one you would be promoted to, for advice as to how to be successful when the likelihood of promotion does come around again. 

"This can help them to build a support network which will be beneficial today and in the future," she said.

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