Trailblazer Perspective: It’s Not All Rainbows & Campfires Breaking into the Salesforce Industry
Hundreds-of-thousands of people descend upon San Francisco this week for the annual Dreamforce conference. Most visible at Dreamforce are the national-park themed characters and booths representing Salesforce’s latest online learning tool called Trailhead. Trailhead is a tool where you can learn about the vast expanse that is Salesforce — from Community Cloud to Pardot for marketing and beyond.
Salesforce has positioned Trailhead as a tool that is accessible to everyone, and that anyone can learn the skills to become a Salesforce administrator or consultant. By all appearances there are a lot of vacant Salesforce jobs needing to be filled. According to a white paper by IDC the Salesforce ecosystem will have created 3.3 million new jobs (about 400k of which are in the US). From personal experience I have heard anecdotes from former Java and .NET developers learning Apex (Salesforce’s coding language) and successfully pivoting their careers to Salesforce. However, Salesforce aims to bring fresh blood into its fold; training individuals with no past tech experience to become Salesforce experts. Salesforce supports non-profit initiatives such as Pep Up Tech and Girl Develop It which have a focus on minority and female demographics. These Trailhead modules help prepare individuals to pass Salesforce certification exams.
This video from Salesforce makes it seems like anyone can easily land a job in the Salesforce space. I sat down with an aspiring Trailblazer to see how easy it is to pivot to a career in the Salesforce space.
Q: What attracted you to pursue a career in the Salesforce space?
A: It seemed like a growing field and I liked all of the opportunities available. As someone who loves logic, it fascinated me to see how well the platform worked. Also I was excited by the income potential.
Q: How did you initially learn and gain Salesforce experience?
A: I spent a lot of time on Trailhead. I studied for and passed the Salesforce Administrator certification, and did an unpaid internship for two months at a not-for-profit. I had faith that that this would help me find a full-time paying job. Studying became my full time job and I did the internship for 30 hours per week.
Q: Do you feel Trailhead helped prepare you for a career in Salesforce? If so, what was most helpful? If not, why not?
A: I think it definitely had some great content and it helped me with my internship. But since I wasn’t able to actually find a career in Salesforce, I can’t say that it was instrumental.
Q: What do you think that gaps were between Trailhead and finding a career in Salesforce?
A: Everyone wanted more experience than I had. Looking back I’m actually surprised I got the interviews that I did because my resume was an accurate representation of what I had done. Nevertheless, it was never enough. I got consistent feedback that I seemed intelligent and very nice but that I didn’t have the experience. It was so unfair because I’m a fast learner and I could have grown into a role. One company (where I actually interviewed on my birthday) that I was very excited about told me in person at the interview that I didn’t have what they needed and it left me in tears. I appreciated the honesty but after multiple interviews and disappointments, that was ultimately the last straw.
Q: Was it helpful to see role models and other Trailblazers who had broken into the Salesforce space with past careers in other areas?
A: The people who I met who had past careers were all individuals who worked at a company who were already using Salesforce and then volunteered to get involved with it. They subsequently “fell into” the role. I did not meet a single person who was coming from a similar situation to mine. They acted like it would be easy for me to pivot from recruiting to tech but unfortunately they were wrong.
Q: Did you network with people already in the Salesforce space, and if so, were they able to help you at all?
A: Multiple people tried to be helpful but ultimately it didn’t work out. I had one individual really help me dive into my resume and revamp my LinkedIn profile but most just smiled and said they’d keep an eye out for potential jobs but I never heard from them unless I reached out to ask.
People in the community are very excited and enthusiastic about Salesforce but many of them “fell” into it so I think they have a false sense of what it actually takes to get in from the outside. They seemed so confident that if I got my certification, volunteered and continued to network that I would find something. It was extremely disappointing that I did not. The whole Ohana concept ended up seeming phony to me as a result.
Q: One of Salesforce’s core values is being inclusive. Trailhead is about inclusivity emphasizing that anyone can learn Salesforce. Do you think you were able to learn Salesforce proficiently? Or did you learn Salesforce proficiently, but just didn’t land a job?
A: In terms of actually learning Salesforce, I don’t think that the Admin exam was geared toward what it actually takes to be an Admin. In fact, heard that a lot of great Admins who take it without studying fail because it doesn’t represent what they do on a daily basis. I’ll never really know if I “learned” Salesforce well enough to get a job because no one gave me the opportunity to find out.
Thanks for reading. Check out this video which busts common Salesforce career myths and gives you tips how to land your dream job in the Salesforce space!