How do I get Salesforce Experience?

In my first article, I started with a few things I wish I knew starting out.  Little did I know some of the conversations I would end up having once it was published!  But do you know what the common theme was?  ‘How do I get Salesforce experience?’

In this post we’ll try and answer that question, and cover some tried and tested methods to get bonafide hands-on experience in Salesforce, boosting your CV and hopefully putting you on track for your next step in your career!

How do I get Salesforce experience? Where do I start?

If you haven’t been in the Salesforce world for long, you might not have heard of Trailhead.  You will be hard-pressed to find a better free resource to start your Salesforce learning.

On the flip side, you might already be on Trailhead and on your way to becoming a Mountaineer or you might have even passed that step (if so congratulations)!  But have you tried a Superbadge yet?

A Super What?! Superbadges… Super solutionizer!

Superbadges on Trailhead combine the standard quizzes and hands-on practicals, with a use case and business problem that you need to find the resolution for.

In interviews for a Salesforce Admin role recently, I asked candidates if they had heard of or done a Superbadge and no-one had completed a single one…  But why are they a good place to start?

Let’s take the Business Administration Superbadge as an example. It tests your understanding of how to load data into a Salesforce org, setup user permissions and configure reports.  These things are ultimately the bread-and-butter for any admin.

And best of all, it offers real hands-on experience in a safe environment.  The part I love is that you are given a description, use case and a business requirement.  After that, it is up to you.  You have to then try to find the right solution and configure, test and deploy.

These superbadges are hard-earned too.  They can easily take 4-6hrs to complete as you also have to complete the relevant Trailhead modules to earn the badge.

There are Superbadges aimed at Admins and Developers, with Superbadges now also mandated for some Salesforce certifications.  So do yourself a favour and check out the badges available to you here.

Additionally, if someone in an interview doesn’t know about these, you can use the opportunity to educate them in the interview.  🙂

Volunteering your way to more experience!

Did you know Salesforce offers a version for free to non-profit organisations?

Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) is a little different to regular Salesforce, but the fundamentals are very similar in practice.

So how does this help you get Salesforce experience?

Well offering your time and services to a non-profit allows you to give back while gaining valuable experience.

It doesn’t need to replace your full-time job either, as most organisations have limited resources and rely on the time of volunteers, they can be quite flexible.  You can build up valuable experience and references while working elsewhere.  A win-win for both parties.

The first step is to learn about the NPSP, and you know where you can do that?  You guessed it, Trailhead!  Here is a Trailmix ready for you to start learning!  And it covers most relevant topics regarding how NPSP works.

Once you are familiar with NPSP, how do you find an organisation to get involved with?

There are are a number of ways to reach out.  You can Look at sites like VolunteerMatch, Catchafire, Taproot, Linkedin for Good or even searching the Trailblazer Community can yield results.

While researching this post, I also found the amazing article from Garrett which details how to network your way to a volunteering opportunity.

Sell Yourself

If volunteering isn’t your thing, you could also go a slightly less altruistic route and give freelancing a try. This would still allow you to work around your day job (depending on the size of the project), and earn a little bit extra on the side.

There are plenty of sites like peopleperhour or Upwork where you can set up a profile and bid for projects.

One word of advice for this though is to make sure you can do what you agree to do.  You don’t want to stand-out because you can’t deliver what was promised.

Get Networking

Now we are talking about networking… this is another great place to get Salesforce experience.  This one is a little less direct about being ‘hands on’. Networking is a great way to meet people within the community, discuss common use cases and business problems and who knows, it may even help you with getting that first step on the career ladder…

Where do you start?  Well, you could find a Salesforce event near you.

Or you could search for a User Groups near you.  With some cities even supporting User Groups for different roles (Admin/Developer/Marketing), but you can check out sites like Meetup to see what is near you or once again the Trailblazer Community.

There are also a number of community-run events.  Some examples from around the world include London Calling, DownUnder Dreaming, SurfForce, Tahoe Dreamin, IndiaDreamin.

You can also reach out on social media (like Twitter) and find out if there are other gatherings near you.

Know thy Salesforce team

The final piece of advice may apply to everyone.  If your company already uses Salesforce but has an admin team, this is a good opportunity to get involved with them.

Offer to buy them a coffee/tea/soft drink/lemonade and see if you can meet to discuss how they got started with Salesforce.

Does your company have Salesforce superusers?  Better still, if they don’t – recommend and help to set up a superuser group!

Put your hand up to learn more about the platform and even though you’re not an Admin, you can use it as an opportunity to expand your awareness of problems they face on a daily basis and how they go about solving them.

It’s all certifiable – a point of view from a hiring manager

To wrap up, I just want to share my point of view on getting your certification.

Everyone talks about getting ‘Salesforce Certified’.  And don’t mistake me, it is very much a step along the way and allows you to be recognised for your skills.  But having only your certificate isn’t a guarantee of anything…

Let me get real for a second.  Personally, I view certification as a way to prove my skill set, but it is ultimately a standardised test.

And some people study the test, not the lessons and how to apply them in business.  So they pass the certification, but can’t apply those lessons in the ‘real world’.  What good is that to anyone?

Now every hiring manager is looking for something different, this is just one man’s point of view when hiring…  When I am looking to fill a role in my team, I am not always looking for someone with an Admin certificate.  I am looking for a balance.

I won’t lie, experience does help!  But it comes down to what I need at the time.

And someone who is able to demonstrate hunger, passion and drive would stand out from the pack.

And hopefully taking the first step down the path of a long and fruitful career in the Salesforce ecosystem for many years to come.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “How do I get Salesforce Experience?

  1. I got my foot in the door using the ‘Know thy Salesforce team’ method mentioned above. I was originally employed at our company as a software support rep. After 6 months, I showed some initiative to move up in the company and they paired me up with our Salesforce Admin, who’d been running our instance for 5+ yrs. The idea was, “What if he ever decided to take leave? We really need a backup.” I sat with him only 2 hours a week, so as not to interfere with my primary support role. We mainly worked on Trailhead, using a Trailmix he put together. I did A LOT of Trailhead on my own at home during this time. At just under 6 months of these trainings, he announced he was leaving to work with a former colleague, and he recommended me for his replacement. We worked out a transition plan, moving me out of my support role into the Salesforce Admin role. I kept doing Trailhead constantly and about 4 months into my new role, I got certified. It’s been quite a journey, with a lot of hard work/challenges, but my career has improved tremendously.

    1. Thanks for sharing Tony. I was the same, that was the ‘method’ I used personally…

      One thing is for sure, as I have moved up in different positions and roles (now as a people manager), you can’t underestimate the need in a team/business for succession planning, and generally Admins can use it to their advantage – as your comment shows! And very glad to hear that the platform has helped improve your career. Similarly it got me out of a call centre, and broadened my exposure to multiple business units.

  2. Sad that the old workbooks have been retired. Trailheads are just that — the head of the trail only, and the workbooks went far further. I spent about 3 weeks with the Apex developer one, the trailheads now cover a few hours (and that includes information which really can only be described as Salesforce advertising). I guess folks got scared and having to learn something that would take more than a couple of hours to understand.

    1. Very true, there are still some online – but agreed Trailhead is less involved than some of the projects in Workbooks used to be. I do wonder if that is where we will see Trailmixes/Superbdage head in the future as the platform expands…

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