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 Monster.com! 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 Monster.com 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.
And lastly, check the job boards of employers.
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:
- Salesforce offers many events, many of which are FREE.
- Consider attending the TrailblazerDX and Dreamforce conferences. The conferences can be quite expensive, but you may find free limited access passes to be available. (Some of the sessions are offered online for free on Salesforce+; although this doesn't help with networking with others, Salesforce+ is a great resource.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 https://trailhead.salesforce.com/credentials/certification-detail-print?searchString=CYmlli/qIz7/+8Jv5pTT1CeCKGTbrpwMXw4dzFETyQM637Q2PHsrXK7ZJOw1bHrV)
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:
- Get a Business Analyst certification. This is a relatively new certification that I haven't researched much yet.
- 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.
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
- Official Salesforce help documentation
- 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.
- 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
- The same author as the article above has a book with excellent advice: Salesforce.com Secrets of Success: Best Practices for Growth and Profitability
- 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.
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. https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/me/rick), and a link to your LinkedIn profile. You can update your Trailhead profile URL and LinkedIn profile link by doing the following:
- Login into Trailhead
- Click "Go to My Profile"
- Click the edit pencil next to your name.
- 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 https://www.linkedin.com/in/upton/ 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 email@example.com, 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 https://www.rickupton.com after just seeing my email address. Using an email address that ends with hotmail.com, aol.com, or yahoo.com 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.
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
- I'm Salesforce Certified—Now What? Top Tips From an Agency Recruiter
- 5 Ways to Supercharge Your Salesforce Career in 2023
- How to Become a Freelance Salesforce Consultant
Please feel free to leave a comment on this page or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or questions.