After serving in the Army for three and a half years, I finally submitted my request to resign from active duty. I sat in my office on the base, worrying about my future career. I was a logistics officer, so naturally, I assumed it would be the best path for me – or perhaps some type of corporate real estate group would take me on as an intern. I had no idea how many resources were available to me or how much of my military skills I’d need to carry to find success in the civilian world.
Luckily, my older brother, a career expert and a Navy veteran, suggested I take a look into Salesforce through their Vetforce initiative program. They have a ton of interview resources and opportunities for free exam vouchers for veterans of all types of military service, which you can find here.
I soon realized that to become a Salesforce Admin, I’d have to apply all my skills to get certified, succeed in interviews, and excel on IT teams over the next few years. Transitioning to the civilian world can be extremely challenging, but I’m grateful for the veterans and mentors along the way who encouraged me to never give up.
Every military Trailblazer has transferable skills, but sometimes, they struggle with adapting them to their new Salesforce career. I think it’s important to highlight some key skills veterans can leverage to succeed in interviews, workplace projects, and Salesforce career opportunities. Based on my own experience and numerous discussions I’ve had in the Vetforce community, here are the five key transferable skills…
1. Effective Communication
Teams thrive on effective and clear communication. Every veteran knows how to communicate effectively, whether they realize it or not. Whether you’ve used a radio, walkie-talkie, satellite, laptop, or cell phone, you’ve learned how to communicate in a clear and concise manner.
In the Salesforce world, this typically involves writing clear and comprehensive documentation in Jira or some type of project board. It also means clearly discussing your daily goals in stand-up meetings, asking your stakeholders precise questions, and clarifying their requests.
These skills will be even more essential if you aspire to become a manager or a project leader in the Salesforce ecosystem. You’ll need to talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to managing developers, administrators, or business analysts in the corporate world. Just as there’s a new language in the military, you’ll have to learn the Salesforce vocabulary to truly succeed.
There’s a saying in the Marine Corps that my brother taught me when he was serving at Parris Island. He told me about the phrase “Semper Gumby”, meaning “Always Flexible”. It is a play on words from the Marine motto “Semper Fi” which means “Always Faithful”.
Adaptability is the willingness, flexibility, and resilience that comes from making decisions on what to do next when everything seems chaotic at work or in life. It seemed like people were changing roles every few weeks during my time in the service, so I had to learn to branch out and do something new from time to time, or take someone else’s place to keep the teams moving towards our goals.
You’ll often have to do this in a company because there are tons of other software applications, query languages, and systems connected to your primary Salesforce org. I had to learn SQL, SOQL, HTML, Excel techniques, and how to integrate a variety of third-party applications because they benefited our Salesforce org.
Did I know I would learn all of these when I took the job? Not really, but I was excited to adapt and add a new skill to my toolkit that helped my resume grow along the way.
3. Solution Finding
I didn’t choose to say “Problem Solving” to highlight the value of providing solutions in Salesforce that no one even knows are needed. This level of in-depth analysis and forward-thinking comes naturally to military leaders and enlisted members alike.
Have you ever sat in a planning meeting with a mission that needs to be accomplished? This is what it’s like when you sit in with a sales or marketing leader who doesn’t seem to know what they actually need in Salesforce. They just know that they need something – some automation or some way to simplify their team’s day-to-day activities.
That’s where your attention to detail and curiosity comes into play, which is of course combined with a strong knowledge of what Salesforce capabilities are out there for your org. If you like the feeling of presenting a well-crafted solution and doing the work to build it, then you will be a perfect Salesforce Admin.
Order, discipline, and structure – these are all the words people think of when they see a military background on a resume, but sadly, this can also be misconstrued as rigidness. The reality is that organizational skills allow veterans to be disciplined, which in turn allows them to reduce errors and create stability and continuity where they work.
A prime example: Salesforce data. As a person with attention to detail, I created documentation, structured how-to manuals, and CRM playbooks that allowed my leaders and future teammates to be incredibly successful on our Salesforce team.
Last but not least is the ability to operate efficiently in ambiguity. That’s a fancy way of saying: “being creative with a lot of unknown variables”. Whether it’s building an app in Lightning App Builder or creating a Lightning Flow, you have to be able to take somewhat limited business requirements and create several ideas from scratch to present to the stakeholders.
In the military, this happens a lot when you are creating several courses of action (COAs). Consider every angle, every variable, and then create a solution with limited resources. Who better to do that than a highly motivated veteran in the Salesforce ecosystem?
You might be considering switching career paths, or perhaps you’re still in the military and you’ve already started preparing for your next season of life. The reality is that whether you do five or 20 years of serving your country, you will eventually end up as a civilian.
The Salesforce world needs your transferable skills – especially the ones listed above, along with your unique talents and drive to truly make a difference for a variety of industries around the world.
If you want to jump right in, sign up for a Trailhead Military account. If you feel like you want to become a Salesforce Administrator through 1-1 coaching or at least get advice on where to start, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, and I’ll be glad to schedule some time to chat!
Other great resources and pathways to success can be found through programs like Hiring our Heroes: Salesforce Fellowship Program and the Salesforce Talent Alliance. All of these resources are at your fingertips, so why not continue your mission here with us in the Salesforce Military community? Get started today!