We are presently alive in a time where the chance to progress your career, your life and yourself hasn’t been greater. The opportunity standing in front of the entire world is simply extraordinary, and the majority of the tools to get there are free. Technology is like a positive feedback cyclone, enabling us to better ourselves, whilst giving us a vessel in to use these new skills we have acquired. Salesforce fits into this archetype like a glove.
Since starting with the Salesforce industry back in 2012, I’ve been inspired by those who have trodden before me, motivating me and making me appreciate this great age we live in. Since then I’ve acted like my career as if it’s a game, acquiring new skills, levelling up, with each key milestone pushing me even further forward. Now as mentioned, I’ve only been around in the Salesforce space for six years which is actually only just under a third of its existence. But I believe I’ve witnessed one of the most transformational shifts that now allow you to accelerate your career at any pace you see fit. Six years ago, there were hardly any blogs around, no trailhead, a small number of certifications, no architect trail, and the online Salesforce community was a fraction of the size it is today. Fast forward to right here and now, and the opportunities are endless to extend your learning and become whoever you want to be.
Now I’m definitely not at the top of my game yet, and I don’t claim to be a master of career advice. What I have been fortunate enough to obtain is extreme exposure to a variety of jobs through my own personal experiences, and through networking with others. I’ve made mistakes, learned from others and tried and tested various methods trying to progress my career, this post is an example of what I’ve learned.
There are 3 elements I believe all individuals need to have in order to excel in their chosen field, specifically here I’m talking about Salesforce, but this could apply to any jobs in the IT market. All individuals must exhibit these 3 traits in order to climb the career ladder as fast as possible…
The Three Traits
I believe there are three core traits you must exhibit to become successful in your Salesforce career.The most successful people I know live and breathe these traits to a point where they can be picked up on straight away. It’s also important to understand that by just exhibiting one or two of these traits without the others, you are truly limiting yourself in what can be accomplished. Now, by all means, you can accomplish a portion of success without all traits, but why aim low?
Technical Knowledge is the ability to demonstrate how well you know the Salesforce platform. Are you aware of all the declarative functionality of Salesforce? How about the programmatic functionality? When should one be used over the other?
But it’s not just about Salesforce, to be a true master you need to understand the surrounding technologies as well. Very rarely in organizations will Salesforce be a standalone system that doesn’t talk to anything else, after all, one of Salesforce’s greatest achievements is its ability to interact with anything. Do you know Salesforce’s integration capabilities? How about Marketing Automation tools that plugin? Now of course if you are reading this you are most likely wanting to become a Salesforce expert, you don’t need to be a master of everything, but most definitely need to be aware.
Salesforce Certifications are a fantastic way to prove your technical Salesforce knowledge to your peers, after all, if you’ve passed it, you’ve proven to yourself and others you know what you’re talking about. But now here’s the rub…on their own, Salesforce certifications mean very little. Imagine that you’ve passed 5 Salesforce certifications in a few months and you feel like an absolute platform master, but you’ve just been using online materials with no real-world exposure, do you think you are best qualified to help real-world clients problems? This is why this trait isolated on its own, means very little.
Experience in Salesforce means being exposed to all kinds of situations, problems and solutions. What options can you offer your users for their current problems? What worked last time? What are some common pitfalls you should avoid this time around?
The following questions can only be answered by yourself through one method, experience and exposure. Now, this can be looked at as one of the more frustrating traits, and I get it, you’ve earned all these certifications and you feel like you can accomplish anything with Salesforce. While this may be true, companies don’t pay over $1000 a day just for their technical skills, they pay for the huge wealth of experience they have built up through working with lots of clients in a similar industry. They want to know what you have done for others, what results have you seen, what has worked, and what hasn’t worked.
Experience and exposure come with years of working with different clients, industries, solutions, workarounds and other software systems. Although time is linear, there are methods to speed up experience which I have personally undertaken. So, if you are eager as I was to get out into the world of Salesforce as fast as possible and climb the ladder, read this post by Adam Gill.
Being personable is the ability to have people like you, talk to people on their wavelength and be empathetic. I’ve left this trait till last as it is almost a bit of an enigma, and to tell the truth, is optional.
I’m sure you can think of loads of examples of people that definitely do not have this trait but have had a pretty successful career, and it’s true. If you want to have a portion of success then it’s really not needed. However, if you want to get to the top of your game, become someone who is respected and a leader in the Salesforce community and beyond, then it is definitely the most important, but possibly the hardest to learn. In fact, being a likeable and personable person almost becomes more important the higher you wish to move up the ladder. Take Marc Benioff for example, Marc was a superstar computer programmer when he was younger and became the youngest VP in Oracle history, since then he founded Salesforce and has taken it to become a marketing leading, record-breaking innovation machine. Do you think his development skills are as good as 25 years ago? Probably not, but he is one of the most respected and influential people on the planet.
Learning how to connect with people cannot be learned with Trailhead or certifications, you must get out in the real world and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Although for some people this may seem daunting, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences. Thinking back to my first Salesforce job as a graduate, even going to meet a client making small talk would make my palms sweat. But with 100’s of client interactions over the years, this is just second nature. Attending Salesforce User Groups are a great way to start networking with people and surround yourself with like-minded individuals. And if there was to be one way to learn how to be personable without going into the real world, I would recommend reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – one of the most read books on the planet.
These three high level traits are what I believe to be fundamental to success in the technology and Salesforce space. As demonstrated with the Marc Benioff example, these traits may rise and fall in skill level as your career progresses, or diverges onto another path (Account Manager, Sales, Pre-sales engineer). Each trait requires completely different tools, learning paths and milestones to become a master, but that’s just the fun of “levelling” up your career. Over the course of a few posts, I will be demonstrating ways you can progress your career through each of these three traits.
Do you agree with these three traits? Is there a particular trait you think is by far the most important? I would love to hear your thoughts.