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