Certified to Employed – The First Hurdle

We have all been there, you receive your first Salesforce Certification and are ready, fired up and fully prepared for your first Salesforce centric job. You proudly display that certification on every social profile (and your Facebook friends still don’t get what Salesforce is), and start hitting the job sites, and then worry sets in.

ClarificationYou start perusing the job descriptions and requirements and see things you know almost nothing about as a new admin. 3-5 years of hands on experience? Apex coding? Triggers? Visualforce? Project life cycle management? Then you see the plethora of titles: CRM Manager, Business Analyst, Database Administrator, Database Developer, Data Administrator, Enterprise Data Delivery Director (yup, seen that one)?? And after hours of searching, you keep finding the same handful of roles that match “Salesforce” with the same or similar requirements, or for contract and short time frames! Ensue frustration. You were told there were tons of jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem, companies were tripping on themselves to hire Salesforce professionals, and you would be in demand. But…you keep hitting dead ends on the career sites.

So what now? You spent all of this time trying to transition out of your dull, not challenging, unrewarding career in (insert job here)spent time and money to study for and eventually pass your exam (if you had to take admin twice like I and so many others have when you first got started), and have dedicated combined days and hours of your personal life (and precious sleep) to learning all you can on Trailhead…and all you can find are roles you don’t have enough experience for, or the right skill set.

Note: Beyond this point are tips and opinions based on my own experiences only and are not to be considered a blanket statement for the entire ecosystem. Every journey and trail is blazed differently, so please take my words as guidance, not concrete rules. 

The Hiring Company May Not Really Know Who Their Ideal Candidate Is
princess-leia-i-dont-know-what-youre-talking-about

This, I found was true more often than it wasn’t. If you work for a small or medium sized company you may not have levels of red tape for hiring people. You may just get an email saying “I need you to find someone to ‘handle Salesforce'”.  What does that even mean? So naturally, if you don’t know anything (or little) about Salesforce, you may be inclined to copy/paste from other descriptions out there (i’ve honestly found the exact same job description for 2 different companies before).

In truth, the company may only need someone with 3-6 months hand on experience instead of 3 years, maybe were unaware of automation tools so they don’t need Apex experience, and so on. Sometimes, your passion for the platform and being a consistent student of it, with an admin certification may truly be enough to get you started.

Do keep in mind that this, in my opinion, typically applies to smaller/mid sized companies that may not truly understand the total workings of Salesforce. For larger, Enterprise level companies, they may get it wrong sometimes too, but chances are, they’re pretty accurate with what they need.

With that said, take risks. David Liu , now a Salesforce Architect at Google, applied for a Salesforce role at Google over 20x until they finally returned his request. If you’re truly interested in working for that company, the worst a company can tell you is no. If you’re a skill or 2 shy, give it a shot. Talk to the company, learn about what the role is and does, maybe it doesn’t really need all the requirements they say they do, but then maybe they do. Just don’t take every listing as gospel.

There Is a Best Kept Secret In The Salesforce Ecosystem…

can-you-keep-a-secret-400x300Well, it’s not really a secret, but most newbies into the space have a hard time wrapping their heads around this one. Most Salesforce jobs are filled from within the ecosystem. Yes, really, they are. I can rattle off at least 5-7 companies at this very second that are hiring experienced and inexperienced Salesforce people right now. From admin to developer to consultant.

People will post jobs from their respective organizations on a regular basis to their followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Chatter (more Twitter than anything). These jobs may or may not be posted on their company websites, and are typically never posted online. If you were the hiring company, why would you pay to list a job on a Monster, Careerbuilder, etc for maximum reach when the Salesforce ecosystem is so active on social media?

 

Non Profits Can Give You Great Hands On Experience

This (hopefully) isn’t news, but i’m a huge supporter of the Salesforce Non Profit Success Pack (as we all should be). In short, the NPSP is enterprise edition of Salesforce but with additional apps to manage portions of a non profit such as volunteers and donations with a slightly different data model. Non profits, with the proper paperwork, can be given 10 free NPSP licenses. However, if you’re a non profit with this great tool and no knowledge of Salesforce, how much can it really help? Not much.

There are a handful of websites out there that match volunteers with non profits that need help in various areas, CatchaFire.org being one that I used in the beginning. You can simply create a profile, search for Salesforce and see opportunities, or just do a google search for Salesforce volunteer opportunities. I’m sure you’ll find a bunch.

Just because it is volunteer, doesn’t mean you can’t get paid. I don’t mean paid in money, currency, but paid in a referral or a nice recommendation. For any and all volunteer work you do, always always ALWAYS ask if you can use them as a referral, or if they would write you a public recommendation. Not only do you get to help an organization stay on course to do great things, but you get a feather in your cap for future job prospects and the hands on experience. There is absolutely NO shame in asking for someone to say when you have done a good job

Get Social!!

I may be repeating myself a bit here, but being social is key in job movement. Don’t be another resume in a resume mill. You just posting and or handing out resumes and job applications is just saying to someone else “here, you throw this out”. Honestly, let’s be honest and say they don’t know you or give a crap about you. When people know or care about you is when you have a better shot of landing something. So get out there and meet people in person, or online (mix of both is powerful). Here are some suggestions

14613410321The absolute most powerful place to network, learn, and find opportunities. User groups are where salesforce “users” and “customers” and “partners” become Ohana. Becoming a regular face at user group events helps keep you in tune with what is going on with the platform and ecosystem, as well as job opportunities. My first Salesforce job was found online (through a TON of digging, as stated above) I was moderately happy there, and after I attended a user group meeting and got a lead on a job, I switched and am very very happy.  My job was never posted online,  I absolutely love where I work, and my compensation was relevant to my skill set at the time. I was placed by a recruitment/staffing agency(see below on my notes about them). You can find a listing of local user groups and events at an unofficial online Salesforce Groups portal, or via Chatter.

Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svg YES! Great channel for the Salesforce ecosystem. Don’t use Twitter? Don’t worry about it, just follow people that you want to hear more from whose content you enjoy, or who work for companies you want to work for. Some great follows are Chris DuarteDaniel J Peter, David Liu, Mike Gerholdt, Gillian Bruce, Mary Scotton, Alex Sutherland, Tony Prophet, Amy Oplinger, Jennifer Lee, and of course Marc Benioff. I know i’m leaving SO many people out. But if you’re just starting out, these are people to follow and get great content from that will help your journey and stay on top of the “goings on” in the ecosystem

5678092236_ae0580c5e1 Ok so I couldn’t find a more up to date branded Chatter logo (is there one?). Chatter is a GREAT resource to connect with people within the ecosystem both customers and partners. I am guilty of not being very active on it (ensue grumbling about not being able to combine profiles easily), but am starting to get a little better since I run a SF Saturday group.

Along with chatter, the answers/success community is a fantastic place to contribute. Answer or ask questions about the SF platform, form relationships. Again, volunteer work, but do good for others, and one day it may come back to you. I, and so many others are living proof that paying it forward will help you one day. I helped a person who had an issue with an email integration with Cirrus. For weeks I helped them step by step via emails every few days until she fully integrated and now works great. I could go back and ask her for a recommendation if needed.

fb-art  Jury’s out, at least in my opinion. I try and keep Facebook to personal use and Twitter for Salesforce/business. Many others do the same, at least in my circles at least. I mean you can filter who sees what you post and whatnot, but thats just too much noise to deal with. Thats why Twitter, imho > Facebook. Type it, post it, be done, and check DM’s from time to time.

logo-tmOk so let’s talk about this a bit. LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 in a messy deal where Salesforce was supposed to acquire them. Lots of rumors swirled about how Microsoft beat Salesforce in the deal (some shady crap imho if its true). So since then, they have kind of taken a back seat for me personally. They recently redesigned the UI/UX and i’m not a fan at all. The benefit is, its a huge network and you can get in touch with a lot of people, but you’ll have to fight off dozens of unwarranted messages and contact requests from recruiters and salespeople who want to sell you everything under the sun. Seriously, does anyone actually train new salespeople anymore?

Recruitment Companies

Ok so this is a sore subject for me. Being in sales for so long, I dealt with dozens of “professional” recruitment companies. Spoiler alert….pretty much all of them sucked. They didn’t care about me at all, barely cared about their client, barely returned phone calls, but they sure as hell cared about their commission checks. So my first inclination on Salesforce “recruitment” companies was that they, like sales placement companies, were scumbags.

Many recruitment companies will gather as many resumes as they can to have a pool of people to pick from IF a job comes up that matches that persons skill set. That’s not to say its completely a bad thing, because they may anticipate a specific position coming up regularly because it is in demand. However, having a talent pool for a growing position, and deceitfully creating a resume mill are 2 different things.

For example, one company in the Salesforce space who will remain nameless (but i’m sure most of you reading this know who i’m talking about) posts phony jobs on a regular basis to collect resumes. That way, when they do actually get a job to place someone for, they have hundreds of resumes. What they also do is have a rotating staff of just out of college barely trained “recruitment” specialists who call and tell you they have a role, but never return phone calls or emails. They are resume collectors. The chances you’ll speak to that recruiter ever again are slim. They purposefully get a candidates hopes up and rarely will you ever hear back from them.

If you run into this, don’t let it get you down. We all do in the beginning until we realize how powerful the community is, and realize most great Salesforce jobs don’t go through 3rd party recruiters, and are filled from within the community.

One thing for you to keep in mind is that YOU are what fuels these recruitment companies. Without YOU, then they have no business. So if you do decide to work with one, vet them. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions about how many people they have successfully placed recently, if you can have references to other candidates or even the clients they may work with. Overly secretive recruiters are secretive for a reason. Granted, there are some confidentiality agreements, but if they have candidates that are truly happy with their services, they should never be hesitant to give you a contact.

Now I know I threw a lot of shade on recruitment companies. But, only ones that operate in a shady way. There are a lot more GREAT staffing/recruitment companies out there, but more regional and slightly tougher to find.

For example, Contemporary Staffing Solutions is the firm who placed me in my current role. They are based locally in the Philadelphia area, but staff/recruit nationally. They were fantastic to work with. They followed up regularly, fulfilled EVERY SINGLE ONE of their promises, were very easy to work with and I still communicate with them regularly today, 6 months after they placed me. I’ve even referred people to them and they helped place them in jobs, and feedback from the candidates was similar to mine, they were very happy with them.

I would reach out to a few local staffing companies that focus on technology and create a dialogue with them.

Make it Your Job To Find A Job

When I was laid off from a Sales job in 2015, I was only unemployed for about a month. From that job when I decided to leave sales, I jumped into a Sales ops role for 6 months (first SF job), and then into where I am now. Friends

When you are trying to find a job, especially in a new industry/field, it needs to be your job. IF you are unemployed, this needs to be a full time job. If working and changing jobs, make it part time. If you’re only sending a resume here and there and attending an event “when you can”, you only kind of want a job.

You need to be at this EVERY day. At my last SF Saturday event, someone asked me how I can stay on top of the platform changes, the ecosystem, run the SF saturday group, have a family, and still have personal time. My response was that the hours my wife and son go to bed until 1-2am is my time. How I choose to spend that is how I get things done. Whether its play video games, or hustle depends on your priorities. As the Great Gary Vaynerchuk used to stay “stop watching Lost, and hustle”

Closing

TLDR: The Salesforce ecosystem is rapidly changing and there are a lot of somewhat unconventional ways to get into it. Salesforce started as a technology disruptor, so you need to be a job seeking disruptor in order to get into the ecosystem. Build relationships, get social, meet people. You’ll quickly find that as you get more experience more people will contact you than you contacting them.

 

 

 

 

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