“It’s a platform where you have to really keep current with what is new, what are the new things coming, and what features you can use in a particular project," said Olivier in this interview for our Focus on Force community.
Olivier Baelde is an experienced learner and user of Salesforce platform. He shares his thoughts about the platform and gives useful advice on how to keep moving forward in the Salesforce Platform.
How and why did you get started with Salesforce?
The company I was working for was doing integration projects between eCommerce shopping carts with ExactTarget which is now called Marketing Cloud. That's how I started using the platform. After that, I went on to Sales Cloud and Service Cloud based on the project's needs.
What does your day to day look like using Salesforce?
Depending on the project and its requirements, I would work on Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, or Pardot. I’m a freelance contractor which means that the projects I select to work on will always have different requirements.
What were your goals when starting?
I started about 10 years ago when it [Salesforce] was still small but, since I was living in the US, there was already a big pool of companies using Salesforce. I saw that there could be some projects to do on that so that's how I started and continued increasing in using and working on the platform.
What was the most challenging part of learning Salesforce?
At the beginning, it was only really sales and a little service which means the platform was quite small in terms of features and so on. Over the last 5-6 years, there have been more and more features and possibilities added to the platform. Since Salesforce releases three times a year with new updates and features, it’s a platform where you have to really keep current with what is new, what are the new things coming, and what features you can use in a particular project. It's a platform where you have to learn all the time. You cannot just say, "Okay, I've got a certification. I can relax." Three times a year you have something to check because there is always something new added.
Three times a year you have something to check because there is always something new added.
What certifications have you achieved so far?
I am a certified consultant for Sales, Service, Community, and Marketing Clouds. Plus, in the Salesforce platform, Administrator, Advanced Administrator, App Builder, and so on.
Do you plan to achieve more Salesforce certifications in the future? Which one is next?
I will attempt to get the CPQ and Field Service Lightning certifications which means, at that point, I will have all the basic certifications to be able to go on the architect path.
What tips and advice do you have for others who are in the process of preparing and studying for a Salesforce certification and keep motivated?
It really depends on the level of experience that you already have. In about 70% of the cases, I may have already worked on a part of the features or implementations that is required by a particular certification. This means, when I prepare for a certification, it’s not a new discovery. It's more a refresher or diving deep into a particular point which I would not know because I never did it in a project. You have to be motivated to say, "Well, I need to learn that part."
If you're working in just one company, you may reach only a certain type of customers and thus only a certain kind of projects which means you may do the same thing all the time. Since I'm a contractor, I need to know more in order to attract projects; I need to have a broader base. So when I look at a particular certification, it's because companies have projects that call for that topic. That's how I stay motivated, but it may not be the same for others who are in a permanent position in a company.
How did Focus on Force study guides and practice exams help with your preparation?
When you look at the Salesforce exam guide, it seems like you have a lot of things to study. You would have to go and search for every topic in Salesforce Help to see what is relevant. It takes a lot of time just to research the parts that you need to study. With Focus on Force practice exams, I like having questions on a particular topic plus the links you need to look at in order to have the complete details. Also, the mock exams give you the format of how the questions can be presented in the actual exam.
I try to keep the preparation time within 20 hours which is very short for a certification, but I can do that because I already worked on several projects before. I don't have to learn everything from scratch and I already have hands-on practice many times before. I am able to keep the number of hours down because Focus on Force saves me a lot of time.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to start a Salesforce career?
Salesforce is a platform that is still growing, and it will continue to do so for a while. I think they are now the leader in terms of CRM which means that there will be more and more work and positions inside the Salesforce ecosystem.
My advice is to practice on Trailhead when you start because it allows you to experience different scenarios that you might not be able to on a project because the projects you are working on are not on that particular cloud. That means you can practice in advance for things you won't have the opportunity to work on in a project.
Even for students, being able to learn about the platform before starting to look for a job is beneficial. When you already have one or two certifications and a certain number of badges on Trailhead, you are already ahead of people who have not logged into Salesforce.
"When you already have one or two certifications and a certain number of badges on Trailhead, you are already ahead of people who have not logged into Salesforce."
What Certification are you studying for now?
Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for thirteen certifications