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3 Keys to Hacking the Corporate Ladder

August 2017- by Dustin Sandoval, Vice President, Principal

How does a young professional start from the bottom and quickly work his or her way up the corporate ladder in a large company like Apex Systems? We asked Vice President Dustin Sandoval, who began his career with Apex just after graduating college, what he thought were the greatest themes for rapid progression. With over 12 years of experience with Apex, Dustin has held multiple leadership positions, including Director of National Accounts, Executive Managing Director, and his current role of Vice President, Principal. Dustin has achieved the Apex Top Performer Award seven times in his career.

Without question, the first aspects that drew me to Apex Systems were the company’s culture, values, and fast-paced environment. As a 22 year-old who was about to graduate from Colorado State University, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my professional career, but I did know two things:

  1. I wanted to work for an organization where I could advance quickly and achieve my professional goals.
  2. I wanted to join an organization who values its employees, and builds their reputation by doing right by its clients and customers, as opposed to just trying to “make a buck”.

Job offer in hand, I was honored, and truthfully, pleasantly surprised that I made the cut to join the Apex team. I officially started my career as a Technical Recruiter in the Denver office in June of 2005.

As a new recruiter, I learned very quickly that we are in the people business. Not surprisingly, I learned that in order to win in the people business, our world revolves around matching the right candidates and clients with talent and environments that will allow both parties to thrive.

Simply put, you will not be in the “people business” very long if you are not making people happy and successful. End of story.

Although I do realize that every situation and circumstance is different, I can pinpoint three key themes throughout my career that have helped the company and myself be successful.

Key Themes:

  1. Do What You Say You’re Going to Do

    Young professionals must realize when they are starting out in their careers, or starting a new job for that matter, their word is their brand. Your word is really all you have. A degree, a resume or a recommendation may have gotten you the job, but on your first day of work, you start building your personal brand. It is up to you to make sure that your brand is trustworthy.

    With that being said, always follow through and do what you say you are going to do. If someone is asking you to complete something that you cannot do because of time constraints or ability, address expectations right then and there. Always follow through if you commit to doing a task.

  2. Do What Is Right; Not What Is Convenient ‘Right Now’

    In any job, you will have temptations to cut corners. If you are cutting a corner, you are doing it at the expense of someone else - know that! It’s difficult to build trust when you are not trustworthy. To build a strong brand/personal reputation, you will need to produce consistently good work. This will lead to bigger opportunities, promotions, and higher pay. Remember that this is your career. Do what is right for the future you, not just what is convenient right now.

  3. Relationships are Everything

    Companies don’t create change, the people who work for those companies create change. Treating people with respect and helping them achieve their goals will be the difference between someone who wants to ‘run through a wall for you’ and someone ‘who wants to run through a wall to get away from you.’ As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but they will never forget the way you made them feel.” Products, spreadsheets, and methodologies don’t care how you treat them, people do. Find a way to help others create success, and you will find that career paths, job opportunities, and promotions start to open for you.

Lastly, I have found that growing your career quickly is about recognizing opportunities that align with your strengths and having the ability to demonstrate to your boss and/or team that you are the right person for the “next level.” Just because you are a great developer doesn’t always mean you would be a great architect. Don’t seek a promotion for the sake of getting promoted—seek it because you are the best person for that new role.

Seeking your next technical opportunity? Give our openings a look.
Looking for a partner in securing your talent? Contact your local Apex branch here.