Saturday, September 9, 2023

Grab Bag of Salesforce Career Advice


I am currently a Sr. Salesforce Business Systems Analyst for a high-tech company and have a side gig as an independent consultant doing a little Salesforce analysis and configuration work for a venture capital firm. From December 2015 through November 2020 I worked for three registered Salesforce partners. For two of those partners, I was a 1099 subcontractor, and for the third, I was a full-time employee. See my LinkedIn profile for more details.

The grab bag of career advice tips contained within this document are based on my personal experience, knowledge, and opinions. This document is far from being comprehensive; rather, it is just a collection of advice about certain topics. There are many people who are much more knowledgeable about various aspects of the Salesforce ecosystem and many who have different opinions than mine. So, please take my advice with a grain of salt and seek out other sources of information to complement the information given here.

Recruiters and Job Boards

Mason Frank is a recruiter for Salesforce related positions. Download Mason Frank’s salary survey; the survey contains a lot of useful information: the latest survey is available here. How representative the survey results are of reality is unknown to me: I've heard some people say it's not relevant, but my anecdotal experiences seems to indicate that there is some value in the survey results.

Submit your resume to Mason Frank and other recruiters that specialize in Salesforce opportunities such as K2, Tech2, Hire On-Demand, Hireforce, and TwentyPine.

In addition to looking for jobs on sites like LinkedIn, indeed, ZipRecruiter, Dice, and Ladders, don’t forget or dismiss craigslist and! Small local companies like craigslist, and I was surprised to find that I got a lot more attention from recruiters after posting my resume to when I was looking for a new opportunity.

Many people share open contract and employment opportunities in groups on the Salesforce Trailblazer Community. Be sure to include your profile picture, company, and title in your Trailblazer Community profile or else your requests to join groups may be denied. For company and title, you can get creative by using “Seeking administrator opportunity”, “Student”, “Independent Contractor”, etc.

Once logged into the Trailblazer Community, search for groups for jobs, then join those that are a fit for you.

For freelance work, check out Upwork, Freelancer, fiverr, and FlexJobs.

And lastly, check the job boards of employers.


Here are a couple of tips. First, be prepared to answer behavioral interview questions. If you don’t know what those are, do a Google search: You can prepare for these by reviewing your resume, thinking about all of the different situations you’ve been in and how those might apply to some behavioral interview questions.

Next, have a list of questions ready for the interviewer, and if you don't have time to ask them all, make sure you get all of your questions answered one way or another before you accept any offer. Here are some questions I've asked in the past.

Networking Online and In Person

Join local and online Trailblazer Community Groups to network online and in person with others.

Join other groups in the Salesforce Trailblazer Community that relate to areas that match your interests by going to the groups page, search the long list of groups, and then join groups that interest you. Ask questions and offer help to others asking questions in these groups to build your online visibility and reputation with other Salesforce professionals.

Search Meetup for local groups and local events related to Salesforce.

Attend official events produced by Salesforce:

Ask many people for informational interviews using LinkedIn messages, Trailblazer Community direct messages, or in person requests. Be sure your request is personal so it doesn’t appear to be a spam message. You’ll learn more about the job market and perhaps get a job lead with informational interviews.


Registered Salesforce partner consulting companies love certifications, because each employee or contractor certification associated with the company gives them more “partner points” which in turn:
  • Raises the partner's standing with Salesforce, which can lead to Salesforce referring more opportunities to the partner
  • Raises the partner's visibility in Salesforce’s AppExchange listing of consulting partners.
After getting certified, you can select an option to enable others with your name or email address to verify your certifications here. For example, you can enter Richard Upton or in the “Verify a Salesforce Certified Professional” field to view my certifications. I recommend that you enable others to verify your certifications so that you can share with others on your LinkedIn profile and elsewhere a link to the “Print View” of your certifications (e.g. see my list at

How many certifications should you get, and which ones should you get? Use job postings, Mason Frank’s survey, informational interviews, information in various web sites, and your personal interests and goals to help determine that. Note that some job postings incorrectly call the Administrator cert the “201” or an “ADM-201” certification. This is because Salesforce offers a class called “Administration Essentials for New Admins ADM-201” which many people take to prepare for the Administrator certification. The same goes for “301” or “ADM-301” for the Advanced Administrator cert and “401” or “DEV-401” for the Platform Developer I cert.

A relatively new certification is Salesforce Associate. I haven't researched this one much yet, but from I've heard, it's a very basic certification that doesn't carry much if any weight for job searches, but is a fine place to get introduced to the Salesforce ecosystem.

I highly recommend that anyone getting started with the Salesforce platform should earn the Administrator and Platform App Builder certifications regardless of whether they are or want to be an analyst, administrator, developer, or anything else. By earning these two certifications, you’ll have a solid foundation of the basics of the Salesforce platform.

After earning a Platform App Builder cert, here are a couple of paths to consider:
  1. Get a Business Analyst certification. This is a relatively new certification that I haven't researched much yet.
  2. Strengthen your admin credentials for non-programming work: Advanced Administrator, Sales Cloud Consultant, and Service Cloud Consultant are good certs to tackle next as they build upon what you learned for the Administrator cert. The Advanced Administrator is probably the least useful of these three as it covers features that aren't commonly used.
  3. Learn to code on the Salesforce platform: After learning what you can customize without code by getting the Platform App Builder cert, then work on getting the Platform Developer I cert (also referred to as DEV-401 or 401). This cert shows that you know how to do some coding; you don’t have to be full-time, hard-core developer to get this one. I earned this cert so that I could do some simple coding myself and be able to better understand what developers are doing. If you want to be a full-time developer, then you may want to proceed further and get the Platform Developer II or JavaScript Developer I cert. I’ve heard the Platform Developer II cert is very difficult. I don’t know of anyone who has this one that isn’t a full-time developer. I recommend getting the Administrator and Platform App Builder certs before starting on the Platform Developer I certification, because you should know when and how to build a solution with clicks instead of code.
There are many, many more certs. Typically, people don’t get those other certs before knocking out a few of the certs mentioned above. The great thing about the certs above and many other certs is that you can practice the skills required for the exams in Trailhead or a free developer org.

I don’t think there is any way for anyone who doesn't work for a Salesforce partner to get free access to some products such as Marketing Cloud, so getting certs for those products really requires working or volunteering for an organization that enables you to get your hands on one or more of those products. If you have an opportunity to get hands-on experience with Marketing Cloud, you might want to jump at that opportunity since that will give you a competitive edge over those who can’t get access.

Good sources for certification advice (not all of which I totally agree with):
I do NOT recommend taking an exam at home if you have a testing center near you that offers testing in a safe environment. I and others have had technical problems with online exams. Exams can be stressful enough without technical issues.

Salesforce Training Resources

  1. Trailhead
  2. Salesforce+
  3. Official Salesforce help documentation
  4. Be CAREFUL with non-official Salesforce sites...including this page! A lot of information out there is obsolete or just plain wrong. Salesforce puts a lot of effort into ensuring their documentation is current and accurate. However, Salesforce documentation and products are not perfect, so non-Salesforce resources can be very useful for tips and tricks. It’s always good to verify tips and tricks with Salesforce documentation or practice in a development org when possible.
  5. This article by David Taber has great advice for Salesforce Administrators as well as the managers and consultants that support them: Salesforce administrator responsibilities: What needs to be done and when
  6. The same author as the article above has a book with excellent advice: Secrets of Success: Best Practices for Growth and Profitability
  7. If you want to learn more about programming, check out the SF99 tutorials.


Want to totally saturate your brain with everything related to Salesforce? Listen to Salesforce related podcasts while washing dishes, driving, mowing the lawn, etc. You can listen to podcasts on a computer, tablet, or phone by visiting a podcast’s website, using iTunes, or using some other podcast player application.

The Salesforce Admins Podcast and Salesforce Developer Podcast are produced by Salesforce. Other podcasts focused on the Salesforce platform include SalesforceWay and Good Day, Sir!. Search Google for "salesforce podcast" to find some more.

Getting More Experience

Volunteering for nonprofits is a great way to get relevant experience. Catchafire, Taproot Foundation, and Volunteer Match have volunteer opportunities working with Salesforce. The Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) is very popular with nonprofits. The NPSP has some quirks to it, so I recommend completing some Salesforce Trailhead modules like Salesforce for Nonprofits Basics and Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) Basics before volunteering for a gig using the NPSP. Not all nonprofits use the NPSP; some use Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, or some AppExchange apps to meet their needs. If you can find a project with a nonprofit that uses Sales Cloud and Service Cloud, then you can pick up skills that are more transferable to what for-profit companies typically use. That said, any experience you can get on the Salesforce platform can be valuable experience.

Marketing Yourself

As mentioned previously, be sure to make your Salesforce certification verification publicly available.

Be sure your Trailhead profile is visible to the public, has a friendly URL
(e.g., and a link to your LinkedIn profile. You can update your Trailhead profile URL and LinkedIn profile link by doing the following:
  1. Login into Trailhead 
  2. Click "Go to My Profile"
  3. Click the edit pencil next to your name.
  4. On the Edit Profile page, update the URL and LinkedIn fields, then click "Save".
Add a “certification” to your LinkedIn profile for Salesforce Trailhead which mentions how many Trailhead badges you have and links to your Trailhead profile. For example, I have a “certification” on my LinkedIn profile at which reads “Salesforce Trailhead Triple Star Ranger (300+ Badges)”. The “+” is useful so that I don’t have to update my profile every time I earn a new badge. In my opinion, it’s a bit much to list each Trailhead badge individually on your LinkedIn profile as each individual badge that isn’t a superbadge typically doesn’t take a huge amount of effort. However, since completing a superbadge can require a substantial effort, you may want to list each of those separately on your LinkedIn profile. For more details, see my blog post which was written before the introduction of superbadges.

If you don’t already have an email with a personal domain like, you might want to consider getting one. Having your own personal domain name through a company such as Squarespace shows some technical and marketing savvy. It also can draw people to your website. I have been told by many people that they have checked out my website at after just seeing my email address. Using an email address that ends with,, or does not leave a good impression with many since those email services are not very good and are very old.

For $6/month, you can get Google’s entry level Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) offering which enables you to use your custom domain with Gmail. I highly recommend Google Workspace because it is very popular. While Gmail can be quirky and take some time to get used to, it’s good to learn how it works since it is very popular with organizations that use Salesforce.

Consider the simple viral marketing technique of advertising yourself in your email signature. You never know who will look at your email signature and have that spark an interest in what you may be able to offer them. For example, you may want to put something like “Salesforce Certified Administrator” in your email signature, and that may prompt a conversation.

Calendar Service

Whether you’re trying to schedule informational interviews, employment interviews, or meetings with consulting customers, you may find Calendly or another calendar service to be a time saver for coordinating meeting times. The service enables people to schedule meetings with you at a time that is available on your Google Calendar, Office 365, Outlook, or iCloud calendar. The entry-level Calendly service is free. 

More Salesforce Career Advice from Others

Please feel free to leave a comment on this page or reach out to me at if you have any comments or questions.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Adding a link to your Trailhead profile page on LinkedIn

What if you want to show the world how much work you've put into earning Salesforce Trailhead badges, but you don't want to clutter your LinkedIn profile with a long list of badges?

Here's one alternative I implemented on my LinkedIn profile. Under the Certifications section of my LinkedIn profile, I added one "certification" called 75 Salesforce Trailhead Badges. If you click on it, you will be taken to my Trailhead profile page which lists all Trailhead badges that I've earned to date.

So how do you find your Trailhead profile link, and how do you ensure that all of the world can see your accomplishments? Follow these steps:

  1. Login into Trailhead at
  2. Click your name in the upper right corner of the Trailhead home page to show a drop-down menu, and then select Profile from the drop-down menu.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the About Me section. For Profile Public, does it say Yes? If not, click the edit pencil icon nearby, change the Profile Public setting to Yes, then click Save to save the change.
  4. At the very bottom of this page is your Profile Link which shows all of your badges. This is the same URL as the URL of the page you are viewing. Copy this link to a text editor.
  5. Log out of Trailhead and all other Salesforce-related sites, then go to the link you copied to ensure that your profile is visible to anyone and not just you.
  6. Once you've verified that your Trailhead profile page is visible to anyone, paste your Trailhead link into your LinkedIn profile. As I mentioned previously, I put this link under the Certification section of my profile by adding a certification with the Certification Name of 75 Salesforce Badges and used my Trailhead profile link in the Certification URL field. You may want to put your Trailhead profile page link in the same place or somewhere else (e.g. in your LinkedIn profile's Summary, Education, or other section).
For more LinkedIn tips, check out my one of my other blogs, LinkedIn Notes.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Workaround for 404 error in Salesforce University online training

In the "Managing Your Users' Experience" module of the "Building Applications with - Part 1" online training course, the link in the "Resources" tab didn't work for me using the Firefox browser on Windows 10. When I clicked the link to open the PDF file "Managing Your Users' Experience Exercise Guide", I was taken to the following page which showed a 404 error for file not found:

Looking at the name of the PDF file, I figured that the file name has an apostrophe in it that was causing the problem, so I looked up the URL encoding for the single apostrophe and found it to be %27. So I added %27experienceexerciseguide.pdf to the URL to produce the following URL which enabled me to open the PDF file:

If you are getting the same error for the same PDF file but the link above doesn't work for you, try adding %27experienceexerciseguide.pdf to the URL you get after clicking the link for the PDF file.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My addiction to Trailhead goes to San Francisco

Back in January I got hooked on Trailhead, the new and fun resource for learning about Salesforce technology on the Salesforce Developer Community site.

Trailhead offers numerous lessons, each of which can be tackled in 10 to 25 minutes. At the end of each lesson is a challenge which either involves either answering some questions or logging into a free developer org and doing some work. Trailhead verifies if your answers or work are correct, and if they are, gives you points for completing a challenge. If you complete a set of challenges, you can earn a badge which is displayed on your Salesforce Developer Community profile.

Because Trailhead tracks your progress and offers lessons that can be finished in as short as 10 minutes, it makes it easy to chip away at training even if you don't have time to sit down for a long length of contiguous time. You can just log in whenever you have a spare 10 to 25 minutes and knock out a lesson.

Tonight I got to attend a "Trailhead LIVE" event in San Francisco. At this event, all attendees were asked to bring a device to enable us to work on Trailhead at the event. I worked on one "real" lesson, and then I worked on the "Catter" badge, a special badge launched on April 1. (The date might give you a clue as to the seriousness of this badge. Take a look before it disappears!) We also got to play a trivia game and meet fellow Salesforce enthusiasts.

Even though you can always work on Trailhead anytime and anywhere that you have access to a browser and an Internet connection, I highly recommend attending a Trailhead LIVE event for a fun change of pace. This was the second Trailhead LIVE event, and more should be coming soon, so keep a lookout on Twitter and other channels for announcements of future Trailhead LIVE events.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Welcome to Rick's Salesforce Journey!

In this blog, I'll be sharing insights and resources that are directly or tangentially related to the world of Salesforce. I currently work for Sony Electronics, Inc., and have been responsible for Salesforce platform solution delivery and support since 2012. I am also responsible for solution delivery and support for Sony Electronics' SharePoint platform and an e-commerce and support site called ServicesPLUS. Over the years, I have led the development of and managed the support for a wide variety of systems using a broad array of technologies.

Please feel free to comment on my blog posts or contact me on one of the sites listed in the left navigation bar's "Rick Upton on Social Networks" section. I look forward to not only sharing information, but also interacting with others interested in the world of Salesforce.