I get a lot of questions asking how to start a career in Salesforce. First off is you need to set a goal and plan on achieving that goal. Without a plan, you won’t achieve success, I also get a lot of messages generally from three groups of people:
- Those who are in IT and have a background in development or Administration/Configuration of other similar tech systems.
- Those who come from a totally different industry and want to “get into Salesforce”,
- Finally students with maybe little or no IT experience.
This is my take on these groups and where you should start with potential ideas in developing your plan to achieve a successful career in Salesforce.
From nothing to Salesforce Admin/Developer?
Just this morning I received a message just on this:
The great thing about Salesforce is when you start out you don’t need to know any programming languages. When you create business applications in Salesforce, a lot of it is “click development” or “click configuration” to create applications. Not to say this is “easy”, but it’s all learnable! I have a great belief that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything even if you and others think you can’t. I wanted to be in a Harry Potter film, it took me around eight months but in the end, I made it… but that’s a story for another day.
Get Certified, get Experience!
Key to getting a job if you have no experience is to get certified and some work experience. I recommend starting with the Salesforce Certified Administrator certification (see details below). Then is the tricky thing with experience and there are a number of things you can try to get experience (again see below).
From a totally different industry?
It’s odd that people from different industries don’t think they have transferable skills. I think this comes from the perception that Salesforce is a “technical system” (ok it is but hear me out!). Salesforce is a system that enables companies to manage their day to day operations. That could be Sales, Service, Finance, Operations, Marketing, Manufacturing… you name it! It can touch every part of a business. The businesses that implement it well, are those that consider it a business system that is there to enable and support their workforce. Then there are those companies that think of Salesforce is an “IT system” and should be implemented by IT, but realise too late that actually it’s a business system and should be run by the business. Because of this you still have invaluable experience that can complement a career in Salesforce.
Play to your strengths
In the post above James wanted to change his career from accounting to Salesforce. That’s brilliant, BUT you may be up against other people who have been in the Salesforce world a lot longer than you. But there will be a lot fewer people that have both Salesforce experience as well as a background in accounting. Use your strength in Accounting, and marry it with Salesforce. Try and find a company using Salesforce and using or wanting to implement/integrate an accounting systemÂ (eg FinancialForce, Xero, Sage etc) or researching the apps available and how finance fits into the Salesforce eco-system. Doing this will make you a lot more valuable in the market than someone who has just “1 month’s experience with Salesforce”. Now Salesforce has started bringing out their own specific industry cloud offerings (Health Cloud, Financial Services) so now you are in an even better situation if you come from these specific industry verticals.
From an SAP/Oracle/Siebel/Other CRM to Salesforce?
I admit it, I did work for an SAP consultancy as well as another CRM company before working with Salesforce. Trust me you have transferable skills! You have knowledge on how CRMs can be used to automate business processes, you may have experience in integrating a CRM with internal systems (this happens a lot in Salesforce projects) so you may have even used the same internal systems, but also understood the challenges (eg: bad data quality). Now,Â of course, it depends on the role you Business Analyst, Developer etc but you do have some valuable skills. I found this when I moved to Salesforce from the previous CRM company as a Development Team Lead. I spend just a month studying and learning as much as I could about Salesforce. I then applied for jobs and received two job offers! one from a very large consultancy! 🙂
In my career, I’ve always tried to be one step ahead of the tech curve. IT moves SOOO fast and you don’t want to be left behind. As you can see from the growth rate of Salesforce… do you really want to wait?
How to get started in Salesforce?
Your first goal is getting a paid job working with Salesforce. To achieve this goal everything comes down to making you look as attractive as possible to a new employer. I think this comes down to three areas:
There are A LOT of Salesforce Certifications. But the one I recommend the one to get first ‘Salesforce Certified Administrator’. The reason for this is it gives you a good overview of the whole of the core Salesforce platform. It allows you to “understand the lingo” when people talk about workflows or Opportunities, you understand what they are talking about. There are two main ways you can learn to get certified:
My ‘Salesforce Certified Administrator’ Online Course
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My A Cloud Guru course gives you focused training on the Salesforce platform with test questions for the exam. I’m also there to help you every step of the way. Trailhead is a site that Salesforce has set up to allow you to learn Salesforce in a modular way, and is a great resource for all kinds of areas of the Salesforce platforms and tools.
If you can get experience in Salesforce this always looks good on your CV. But can be hard to come by but there are a couple of ways you can do this:
Salesforce.org is the charitable arm of Salesforce that gives out the Salesforce platform to charities around the world (In fact my charity uses Salesforce). But charities can be tight on money so volunteering with a charity that uses Salesforce is a great way to get some experience on your CV. Know a local charity? Why not approach them and say you are looking for experience and sign them up to Salesforce.org (it’s free) to get their free Salesforce org and then configure it for them to solve some of their challenges running a charity. A great way to help a local charity as well as get experience for yourself!
Create some apps in Salesforce!
Prove your knowledge of Salesforce by creating some business apps in Salesforce. Salesforce provides free “Salesforce Developer Orgs” which is a fully functioning Salesforce tool but limited to a couple of user licenses and limited space. But you can create business apps within it. If you can say on your CV that you have created, for example an invoice management application with approval processes and automation then this could go a good way in proving your ability with Salesforce.