Before I get into the details here, let me say something.
Make sure you want to be promoted.
That might sound crazy, and it is probably a topic in itself, but don’t go for a promotion for a promotion’s sake.
Upward mobility and title changes can sometimes make you less happy in a company and can actually hurt your long-term ability to reach your career goals.
That said, if you want a promotion, here is how to get one in a large company:
Set the expectation clearly and immediately
If you’re working at a large company, you will almost definitely have to set annual goals for yourself. At ESPN, we have development objectives and business objectives. Development objectives are things you’re going to do to improve yourself as an employee and business objectives are things you’re going to do to further ESPN’s business goals.
You need to tell your supervisor at your annual review that you want to set goals for next year that, if met, are going to get you promoted.
This is the perfect time to do it because your supervisor is in the middle of giving you feedback. Step back and say:
“This is great. I’m going to really focus on your feedback in the upcoming year, and I really want to get promoted by the time we sit down here next year. Other than this feedback, what else can I do to reach that personal goal?”
With that feedback, begin writing goals and bring them to your supervisor as soon as you have even ideas. Work with your supervisor until these goals are challenging, relevant and measurable.
See, in large companies, your supervisor can only do so much to get you promoted. He or she will basically submit your case to Human Resources, where it gets screened. You want to make your supervisor’s job easy and hand him or her your case well documented.
At the same time, you should regularly (weekly is best, but at least monthly) be checking in with your supervisor(s). Ask what they think you’re doing and if you should change one or more of your goals to better fit the company’s objectives if they have changed.
I don’t recommend black mailing your employer with a threat of leaving the company. If you want to leave the company and when you make that known, the company gives you a counter offer that makes it seem more attractive, great. But don’t bluff.
That said, in a big company, there are positions that open up all the time. Some of these would be a promotion if you were moved into them.
Apply for these jobs. Just because you don’t get a company email that says you were promoted doesn’t mean you weren’t promoted.
In fact, this is often easier than getting a traditional promotion, as there are a lot of politics and rules that go into it.
Despite all this, promotions still are somewhat out of your control, which is why some caution against making it a personal goal.
But don’t let that dissuade you from trying. It shows you are resilient and there isn’t a limit to the number of times you can gun for a promotion.
So good luck and let me know how it goes.
Cody is a Product Manager and Social Media Specialist at ESPN. He manages, conceptualizes and develops many of the social aspects of ESPN.com. He also is Founder and CEO for Gunner Technology, Inc an end-to-end Web strategy company, providing solutions for businesses. Previously, Cody worked as a developer for ESPN.com, building many of the live scoreboards and GameCast applications. In a previous life, he covered Florida Gator sports as a beat reporter, talk show host and television producer. Cody earned an MBA, Masters Degree in Communication and Bachelors Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. He currently lives in Los Angeles. To find out more, read his blog, follow him on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.