Excel as a Salesforce Administrator

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Focus on People: Alex Bassett

Alex Bassett is a Salesforce Consultant based in Vancouver, Canada. Alex was originally working as a Data Reporting & Information Analyst, but upon learning about Salesforce and its opportunities, decided to begin his climb to get certified. After receiving his Certified Salesforce Administration designation in June 2016, he quickly found a job as a Salesforce Consultant. Learn about Alex’s Salesforce journey below.

How and Why did you get started with Salesforce?

I got started with Salesforce after speaking with a friend who worked as a Salesforce Consultant. I was interested in transitioning from a data analysis and reporting role in the insurance industry to a more IT-focused role in a growing industry. My friend gave me a tour of a company he worked at and recommended I get my Salesforce Administrator certification to increase my job prospects.

After my friend told me about the career opportunities that come with Salesforce experience, and how my experience is transferrable, I decided to look into Salesforce roles further. After a Canadian Salesforce consulting company said they were interested in me as a potential candidate for a Salesforce-related role, I decided to pursue learning Salesforce in late 2015.


My goals in learning Salesforce were to:

  1. Understand the business cases for how Salesforce was used by different companies in various industries
  2. Gain my Salesforce Administrator certification so that I could break into this new career

After I found myself out of work in early 2016, and had a lot more free time to study, my focus was studying full-time for my Salesforce Admin certification and moving to Canada in faith of getting into a Salesforce career.


What was the most challenging part of learning Salesforce and how did you rise above those challenges?

The most challenging part about learning Salesforce was that there was no textbook guide showing you how to learn Salesforce from scratch. I also found that studying for the Salesforce Admin exam without having Salesforce experience was challenging.

However, I overcame by: getting the free Developer Edition of Salesforce; using Trailhead to learn various Salesforce features; reading blogs that spoke of how other professionals found different careers in Salesforce; using exam-prep sites like FocusOnForce gave me the structured exam practice I needed to prepare for ADM 201.

I received my Salesforce Administrator certification in June 2016 and have not begun studies for another certification yet.


Do you plan to do anymore certifications, if so which ones?

My next certifications will most likely be: Salesforce Platform App Builder, Sales Cloud Consultant and potentially Marketing Cloud Consultant.


What is your role now and what does your day to day look like?

I begin a new role as a Salesforce Consultant in a Canadian Salesforce brokerage on January 16. My day-to-day responsibilities will include configuring Salesforce instances for clients; mapping out current and future states of clients’ business processes; designing the overall business solution for my clients.


Which steps would you suggest for someone that wants to start a Salesforce career?

I would encourage anyone who wants to start a career in Salesforce to begin with getting a Developer Salesforce instance and use Trailhead to learn how Salesforce works. This will allow you to test drive the software for free and see if it’s something you can sink your teeth into.

Trailhead is a fun and rewarding way to learn, practice and refine old/new Salesforce skills without the fear of breaking your company/client’s Salesforce org!

Networking with people who are in Salesforce-related roles that interest you is also very important. Join groups, have informational interviews/coffee meetings and pick people’s brain about their Salesforce stories. You never know how those connections can be mutually beneficial and turn into paid/pro-bono roles that get you the valuable Salesforce experience.


Why do you think being certified is so important?

Being certified is great for financial and non-financial reasons. Certifications show your level of skill/understanding of Salesforce and show an individual’s level of dedication, in my opinion. Certifications are a great way of setting yourself apart from everyone else and can help open doors for people new to the field.

Salary surveys have also shown that Salesforce professionals with certifications generally make more per year in the long term than individuals who don’t have Salesforce certifications.


Do you have any tips for getting certified?

My tips for getting certified are:

  • Customizing Salesforce to practice using features on an exam you’re preparing for
  • Practice, practice, practice. Use Trailhead to help you sharpen areas of Salesforce that you may not know very well
  • Use sites like Focus on Force with multiple practice exams for different Salesforce certifications. It is a great way to know how ready you are for the main exam
  • Find people studying for your same exam and see if people want to form a study group
  • Talk with people who have multiple certifications for other study tips

What Certification are you studying for now?

Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for sixteen certifications