Career / Admins / Certifications

Salesforce Certifications Aren’t Enough Anymore: Here’s How You Can Stand Out

By Nick Bryner

Two years ago I was hiring for two Salesforce Admin roles: one entry-level and one junior-level. I got just under 200 applicants in less than 24 hours after I posted the roles on LinkedIn. The overwhelming majority were for the entry-level role. My poor recruiters, who didn’t quite believe me when I told them to expect this, asked me: “What number of certifications should we look for? The range we’re seeing is anywhere from zero to ten plus”.

I honestly didn’t have a good answer for them. How seriously to take a huge number of certifications from someone without any actual experience is really hard to answer without any other context. Because this was an entry-level role, I told them to ignore any certification that wasn’t “Salesforce Admin” and instead to look for some of the things I’m going to talk about below.

How to Stand Out

Since then, we’ve seen continued growth in both the number of available certifications and the boot camps that help you get them. This is to say nothing of the fact that dumps remain unfortunately easy to locate. Certifications have lost a lot of weight, and they’re no longer enough by themselves to set you apart. Here are some things you can do that will help you stand out. 

Demonstrate Competence

Certifications are ostensibly valuable as they represent knowledge and capability. When that proposition is less of a sure thing, you’ve got to find other ways to show that you know what you’re doing to potential employers.

One of the easiest and most effective ways you can do this is to build something interesting in a dev org. Here are some examples I’ve seen that stuck with me:

  • A rental property app, complete with automated maintenance tasks, a payments object, and reporting on maintenance completion rates.
  • A particularly creative flow wizard combined with an external site with a flow that would rickroll you. 
  • A beer rating app that included screen flows for capturing reviews and reporting on what people liked most.

There are loads of possibilities here, as long as you have a concrete problem you’re trying to solve. An ideal build will include automation, reporting, and clean UI – don’t just settle with automating a few things. You should be prepared to talk about what you did and why, what challenges you had, and what you learned. 

An honorable mention here to Superbadges. They’re suffering from some of the same problems certifications are, but they still have a lot of value due to their hands-on nature. Make sure you’re taking the time to work through some of these.

The Salesforce community itself also provides many opportunities to skill up and show off things you’ve learned. You can participate in events like FlowFest, and answer questions in the Trailblazer community. 

Market Yourself

Networking remains one of the most effective practices to help you get a job. When you’re competing against hundreds of other applicants it might be the difference between you getting an interview or not. Start by connecting with Salesforce professionals in your area on LinkedIn. 

Search “Salesforce [region or state]” and connect with a few people per day. A simple message saying you’re trying to connect with professionals in your area will do. Follow this up by attending local Salesforce User Group meetings. Building a network locally will do wonders for you, as local jobs are the easiest to get to. 

Next, focus on optimizing your LinkedIn profile. It is of critical importance that your profile shows off all the transferable skills you bring to the table. You may not have Salesforce experience, but if you can show off that you’re skilled at something like gathering requirements or managing a project, it will go a long way with potential employers.

Also, remember that cool thing you built in a Dev org? Write articles about it on LinkedIn! Have them displayed on your profile, and use them to start discussions about what you learned in posts. Hiring managers will notice this behavior, and if one of them has your resume across their desk, there’s a much better chance they’ll select you for an interview.

READ MORE: 5 Networking Tips for Salesforce Events

Practice Interviewing

Everything mentioned above is all in service of getting you an interview where you can really make yourself stand apart. The gulf between someone who has thoroughly prepared for an interview and someone who just showed up will prove significant. There’s a lot to be said here, but I’m going to call out one thing in particular – practice.

Grab a friend, someone with experience as a hiring manager, or even a fellow Trailblazer, and have them lob some hardballs at you. Give it your best shot, then stop and get some feedback. Try it out a few times. Going through this process will endow a level of confidence in your responses that will impress hiring managers.

Here are a few questions I’ve asked people in interviews I like to use:

  • What made you decide to pursue a Salesforce career?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What areas of Salesforce do you feel strong with, and what do you feel weak with?
  • Tell me about a time when you were given a task that you initially had no idea how to complete. What did you do, what were the results, and what did you learn?
  • The VP of Sales is asking you to build something in Salesforce that you’re positive is a bad idea. How might you go about guiding them toward a better option?

If you want a robust overview of some more technical questions you might get asked, you can find them here. The important thing is to identify questions you’d struggle with, go back to Trailhead if you need to, and practice answering them until you can do so with precision and confidence.

Summary

The value of Salesforce certifications has become increasingly murky, but there are still a lot of things you can do to stand out. Focus on demonstrating your competence with things like building in a dev org, marketing yourself more effectively, and practicing your interviewing skills. If you can nail those, you’ll be well-positioned to stand out to recruiters and interviewers. 

The Author

Nick Bryner

Nick is currently working as the Salesforce Technical Lead at SecurityMetrics. He's been working in the Salesforce ecosystem for 6+ years, mostly at SaaS startups.

Comments:

    John Townsend-Harrison
    May 03, 2024 6:05 pm
    I built a job hunting app in my Trailhead org with Integrations to linkedin, and Gmail to simplify record creation, and sending and tracking opens on emails. I also simplified the layouts, customized selling and Lead management process, and built a mobile experience to optimize job hunting. I've shown it off to more than a few interviewers. I altered the email signature to say "Powered by my custom configured Salesforce job hunting org".
    Nick Bryner
    May 07, 2024 7:36 pm
    John, that is the exact kind of thing I was talking about. What you're describing sounds brilliant.

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