Jump-Start a Salesforce Career – Get Certified and Move on – Part 5 of 5 #ForceFriday

Salesforce has offered an excellent certification program for years now. Salesforce Administrators should strive to achieve at a minimum the Admin 201. This exam is fairly easy to pass as long as you study and put the effort in to learn the material. To really show your knowledge at the Salesforce Administrator level you should pursue the Advanced Admin and Developer certifications. You can learn more here – http://certification.salesforce.com/ 

Now, I say move on. Get certified and then move on. I don’t mean to belittle the usefulness of Salesforce Certifications. They are the college degree of the Salesforce world. A degree is a gatekeeper and so are Salesforce Certifications. If you aren’t certified, you have to go the extra mile to prove your abilities. So, get your certifications and move on.

Now, here’s my simple tips for passing the exams:

 

Finally, know that your certification gives you confidence in your abilities. Take that confidence into the role you want.

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Jump-Start a Salesforce Career – Find a Mentor – Part 4 of 5 #ForceFriday

Mentors are amazing, Salesforce mentors doubly so. Mentors can have immense benefits on your career progression and sometimes open doors that otherwise would be closed to you. There is no replacement for a personal relationship with someone.

I’ve outlined three places to go and find a mentor within the Salesforce world. That said, this blog post is a little shameful plug for a mentor/mentee matching initiative that I’m trying to get going within the Salesforce Community. If you are taking the time to read this blog, first, #ThankYou, and second, please take some additional time to take this interest survey:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1e88JJMY4Q81HpEmj4zd94f40EM-eHVxAfLcqROcnmS8/viewform

Now… to the good stuff.

How to find a Mentor in the Salesforce world:

Ask you local user group leader

You local user group leader is connected. They likely know everyone within your local user group and a simple conversation requesting an introduction to a potential mentor is all it takes. At the next meeting, pull them aside and share with them your goals and aspirations and that you are looking for a mentor relationship to help.

Message a Community Leader directly

The Salesforce Community is full of groups for every role, position, feature, etc. There are individuals that are active within those groups that I would consider Community Leaders. These individuals are your best bet to reach out to and ask to mentor you. Now, its important to not be presumptuous in your request. Not everyone has time to commit to a mentor/mentee relationship. However, if you remain flexible and ask for any references to others that might be willing to mentor you then you are more likely to get a good connection.

Use your LinkedIn Network

If you are like me you’ve spent years adding people into your network on LinkedIn. Like Facebook, not everyone you are connected with is really a friend but more of an acquaintance. However, you likely are connected with a few people that you do have a stronger relationship with. Reaching out to these people and explaining what you are looking for might lead them to introduce you to the right mentor. I don’t recommend sending out mass emails or form letters to everyone in your network. Actions like that are disingenuous as are easily recognizable.

 

 

Jump-Start a Salesforce Career – Build and Highlight your Soft Skills – Part 3 of 5 #ForceFriday

Whenever I interview candidates I always test soft skills. That is to say, I always try and discover how a candidate communicates with a team member, a customer, and in a superior/subordinate situation. Especially for customer facing roles, its important to test how candidates communicate in customer situations. Soft Skills are those skills you can’t really quantify but rather mature over time. Knowing how to delivery and communicate information in a given situation so as to elicit a positive response is key to any role, regardless if its customer facing or not. Technical skills are a must but in today’s open workplace you can’t hide. Given two equally qualified candidates I go with the one that presented their Soft Skills better than the other.

Here are a few tips to build your soft skills and highlight them in an interview situation.

Be Creative! – Creativity breads passion

Have you ever thought to yourself… “There should be a Salesforce org to track that?” for something in your life? Don’t lie, you know you have. I use my Free Developer orgs for all sorts of things in my life. Its sort of my outlet for creativity and I love talking to people about it. For example, when I was in the Army I used a Free Developer org to track and maintain the location and count of inventory items in my company, roughly $40,000,000 in assets. This was previously tracked through a complex process involving lots of printed packets of paper and an Excel Spreadsheet so large we couldn’t email it. Using a Free Salesforce org eliminated several errors, countless hours of searching for inventory items, and a simple scheduled dashboard eliminated a painful hour-long weekly call with my commanding officer.

Is there something in your life you can track with a Salesforce Org? Check out Geoffrey Flynn’s Blog – http://exploiteddevorgs.com

Be resilient! – Where do you get your Resiliency from?

You may not think of resiliency as a soft skill but you need to. Resiliency is your ability to stand tall in the storm, relying on your skills and experience to get your through any situation. Where do you draw your resiliency from? Tell me! Whenever someone inevitably asks you “What are your three greatest strengths”… tell them you are resilient and follow up with a situation where you were. Resiliency is a reinforcing feedback loop. The more resilient you are the more tough situations you can handle. You should be prepared with a situation to share in your past experience where you were resilient. If its Salesforce related, all the better.

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So you failed eh? – Show your human side

You’ve failed. You know you have. I know you have. So does the person interviewing you. What I want to know is how you failed, why, and how you handled it. Did not follow best practices and put a change directly into production that caused some serious errors? Maybe you missed a deployment timeline? Did you not test some code thoroughly before pushing it to production? How did you handle that situation? What were the outcomes? Its important to be prepared to show that you have indeed failed in the past and that you learned from that situation. More importantly is to show how you handled that situation. Did you communicate the situation well to the stake holders? What methods did you use to ensure the lowest possible impact to your customer? Showing how you handle situations when you fail is more important that showing how you resolve the situation. Technical issues nearly always get resolved. In my experience, its not how your failure was resolved that gets remembered but rather how the situation was handled.

Jump-Start a Salesforce Career – Network, Network, Network! – Part 2 of 5 #ForceFriday

No seriously, network! I mentioned in my last post that I’d share my experience on how I started my Salesforce Career.

I started out at Salesforce Premier Support without any Salesforce experience. That’s certainly not the norm. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of Salesforce before I applied. I had a good friend of mine from my college fraternity who was working for Salesforce at the time. He referred me and the rest is history. But you have to ask yourself, why did he refer me? Why me over someone else? The reason… Simply put, he knew me.

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My fraternity is just one part of my network. In this instance, it happen to pay dividends. I’m no longer with Salesforce and now with a Salesforce Partner. How did I get this new role? My Network! People want to help other People but the reality is that they like helping people they know.

There are several ways that someone just starting out in the Salesforce World can grow their network.

I make it a point to attend my area’s User Group and the Non-Profit User Group every month. There’s always something interesting to learn at the session and there’s time to network with other Salesforce Professionals. But just don’t attend – Participate! Offer to give a session on a topic you know. Offer to coordinate a partner to come and give a talk. Being seen as a leader in your group, even if you aren’t the user group leader, gets you recognized.

Salesforce does an excellent job of collaborating people together. Join all of the major chatter groups and the job groups. Be a good community member and the good karma will come your way.

Meetups are even better for networking, in my opinion, because they tend to be smaller than a User Group Meeting.

  • Be Active on Social Media

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. We all have them but are you using them to their full affect. But using your Social Media accounts for something other than wasting hours of your life scrolling down can help you jump-start your career. I recommend joining and being active in the LinkedIn Salesforce Groups and following Salesforce community leaders, MVP’s, and Salesforce evangelists on Twitter (http://www.runconsultants.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Top-50-Salesforce-Influencers-on-Twitter_Run-Consultants1.pdf).

  • Start Blogging or write what you know in a guest blog

Blogging is easy and essentially cost free unless you count the time you put into it. However, I’ve found that whatever time I put into blogging I get equal benefits in learning and networking. If you don’t want to commit to a full blog then reach out to the blogs that you follow and offer to make a guest post.

  • Leverage your Non-Salesforce Networks

Just because a network is not Salesforce related doesn’t mean its not useful. Make time to attend and participate the networking events, speakings, and other learning events for these networking groups. As I mentioned, it was a non-Salesforce related group that connected me to the person that recommended me at Salesforce. It works!

Jump-Start a Salesforce Career – Get Some Experience – Part 1 of 5 #ForceFriday

I recently read a post/rant on the Salesforce Community from a frustrated job seeker who was looking for a career change and had chosen to pursue Salesforce. That got me thinking about my own Salesforce career and how that got started. My story is the exception to the rule because I was hired on at Salesforce without any Salesforce experience. The one thing I had going for me was I had a connection with a current employee that worked at Salesforce and recommended me. I’ll talk more about having personal connections in the Salesforce world in a future post.

I wanted to put together some detailed posts for those who are looking to transition their careers to Salesforce or are just starting out in the Salesforce world.

My first Pro Tip: Get some experience!

That’s a catch 22 since you need to be hired somewhere to get experience but you need experience to get hired! False!

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There are several ways to get some Salesforce experience without getting hired somewhere. Here are just a few:

Volunteering your time gives you the ability to do some good in the world as most of the companies looking for volunteers are Non-Profits. This also has the added benefit of getting you some referenceable experience that you can speak to in an interview. There is no replacement for real-world project experience. None. Forget Trailhead, certifications, training courses, online tutorials, community involvement, etc. – (Note: Those are important) – None of those compare to having actual experience in the market place.

Freelance marketplaces provide you with a way to get real world experience on small and short term projects. But these are the perfect type of project for someone just starting out because they teach you engagement skills, sales and customer acquisition skills, scoping, project delivery, and how to deliver customer success. These have the added benefit of also giving you referenceable projects that you can put on your resume. Who knows, it might even turn into a full time consulting gig!

Identify companies you want to work for and volunteer your services Pro Bono as a trial/internship. Be honest and upfront about your experience level and intentions. I have the utmost respect for someone that could say:

“I want to work for you as an X. I don’t currently meet the requirements but I’m fixing that. I’m willing to work for you pro-bono to prove I’ve got what it takes.”

This might not be a popular option or even an option at all due to individual circumstances. But if you can do it its certainly an option that differentiates you from all of the other resumes that hit hiring managers every day.

 

Tricks all Salesforce Admins Need part 7 of 7 – When to Implement a Validation Rule #ForceFriday

Validation Rules are great! They force data quality, ensure users follow a process, and are part of a mature system. But, sometimes it can be difficult to determine when and where to implement a validation rule. Below I describe a framework (I know, my favorite) that will help guide what should be implemented as a Validation Rule.

Without further ado, I give you a Validation Rule decision framework.

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When deciding if a Validation Rule is needed or not ask yourself three questions.

Should your field be required?

Is the field part of a step process?

Do you just need a warning message?

 

~ If a field needs to be require every time a record is edited then a Validation Rule should not be used. A Field Level requirement should be implemented.

~ If a field needs to be required sometimes (i.e. specific criteria) then a Validation Rule should be used.

~ A step process is any business process that has field dependent requirements. Validation Rules can be implemented to validate each step in the process, ensuring no steps are skipped.

~ Warning messages or “Soft Errors” aren’t supported by Salesforce just yet but please continue to vote for this idea – https://success.salesforce.com/ideaView?id=08730000000Bra7AAC. Validation Rules prevent the saving of a record whereas the warning message would allow a record save but display a warning based on your criteria. However, there are other options outside of Validation Rules which you can explore.

  • Use a Formula to display a dynamic message based on your warning criteria
  • Use a Visualforce page to display warnings
  • Use the Process Builder to push a Chatter Post (based on criteria) to users indicating the warning

 

** Note: Some Standard Salesforce Fields can’t be made required at the Field Level (e.g. Address Fields). The work around is to use a validation rule. You can vote for this idea if you run into this issue – https://success.salesforce.com/ideaView?id=08730000000lAndAAE

Tricks all Salesforce Admins Need part 5 of 7 – Productivity Boosting Chrome Extensions #ForceFriday

Today’s #ForceFriday post isn’t anything new to the Salesforce Blogosphere but I wanted to call out the Chrome Extensions that I use in case you aren’t using any at all or are looking for a short list of the ones you really need. Each of these Extensions is a tool I use to be more efficient and productive throughout my day.

Salesforce Boostr
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Get it: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/boostr-for-salesforce/kegohbhdgaoaoanbpconbeleanhdodlo

Why you need it:

Salesforce Boostr does a few things that admins will love:

  • Ability to search when adding items to a change set
  • Filtering by type when adding to a change set
  • Showing all items of a given type on one page when adding to a change set
  • Displaying the API Name next to field names when editing a field set
  • Using Pascal Case for the API Name when creating new objects and fields
  • Preventing the placeholder text from filling in the setup area sidebar

Salesforce Boostr solved a problem I have experienced FOR YEARS! I owe @mattsimonis so many beers. When Salesforce introduced the quick find search bar in Setup that made finding and navigating to Setup sections easier but the placeholder text sometimes doesn’t load fast enough and you click into the search box faster… forcing you to re-type. Its been a problem with Chrome for years and now its not.

 

Salesforce.com Enhanced Formula Editor
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Get it: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/salesforcecom-enhanced-fo/cnlnnpnjccjcmecojdhgpknalcahkhio?hl=en

Why you need it:

Formula fields are an advanced topic that falls solely in the bucket of the Salesforce Admin Role and Responsibilities. Good Admins know formulas! Formulas can get large, cumbersome, and you can end up spending much more time fixing syntax errors that could have been avoided. Enter the Enhanced Formula Editor which makes writing formula’s easier by coloring functions, allowing for easy tabbing, highlighting brackets, find and replace, and much more.

You will save time on your next formula. Trust me.

 

Force.com LOGINS
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Get it: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/forcecom-logins/ldjbglicecgnpkpdhpbogkednmmbebec?hl=en

Why you need it:

Think of all the Salesforce logins you have right now. Even Admins at smaller companies will have at minimum 2 (Production and a Developer org) but if you’re like me you have probably 100+ logins you’ve accumulated over the years and maybe 20 or so that you use one a regular basis. Between all the developer orgs for testing, Sandboxes, and production environments its difficult to keep track of everything. Force.com LOGINS provides a One-Click login to either Production/Sandbox and allows you to select a new tab or new window. Its a good password manager for Salesforce logins and saves me time by not having to deal with lost username/passwords all the time.

 

Those are the top ones I use specifically for productivity. There are many more Chrome Extensions our there. Here’s a good list to get your started – http://www.insightsquared.com/2015/10/14-salesforce-extensions-for-google-chrome/