By Amanda Bailey
Every day people read job descriptions for their dream positions and feel frustrated when they get to the “required skills” section because it has 20 skills that they don’t have. In most industries, it would require extensive classes, possibly college courses and more to be able to gain those skills. Fortunately, with Salesforce they want you to grow and the community of people who work with the tool want you to be successful.
You might be thinking ‘I want to become a consultant’ or ‘I’ve mastered administration, now I want to develop’. You could be tired of creating reports and want to move into marketing or have never used Salesforce before and want to dip your toes in the water but don’t know where to start. I was in this same place 5 years ago. I wanted to do something more with the tool but had no idea where to begin or how to gain the knowledge I needed to advance my career. In this post, I have provided 5 resources that can help you to gain exposure, build out your skillsets, and to prove your knowledge of the platform. With this information, you can carve out your own path and define what you want to do in your career.
Trailhead: Starting with the most recommended training tool, Trailhead is an interactive learning site to assist beginners, intermediate and advanced users to develop their skills. If you haven’t started utilizing this resource then you need to bookmark it immediately. The site provides information ranging from what a CRM (customer relationship management) is, to how to write Apex triggers, developing in their lightning user interface and much more. Salesforce created this site to help keep their users trained in all aspects of the system. They are also continually expanding the catalog, and allow you to earn badges for completing modules on their learning “paths”. The paths are collections of modules that help the learner to develop skills in specific areas including administrating the tool, developing code, developing in the mobile app, customizing the lightning UI and even some business specific skills. The badges you earn display on your user in your profile so other people can see all of the modules and trails you have completed. Many consultants, MVP’s and professionals like to post when they have earned a badge on Twitter to share the new skills they’ve learned.
2. Salesforce Success Community
Salesforce Success Community: If you have ever Googled a question to a Salesforce problem the answer more than likely came from the Success Community. This site, unlike Trailhead, has different functionalities for the user by utilizing a collaborative approach instead of learning modules. You can post questions, search for answers, find knowledge articles (documents created by Salesforce that have instructional information about functionality), videos and walkthroughs. Instead of typing in a question into a search engine, you can type the issue into the “Search the Community” search bar and find answers to the problems you are facing that others have faced in the past or are currently facing. Answers provided typically include steps to resolve the problem or articles with deep-dive information that will help you to figure out the solution. The best part of this site is if you cannot find the answer, you can always post your question and people who are members of the community will respond. I’ve utilized this resource many times and the consultants, certified professionals and Salesforce staff who monitor the new questions are always friendly and courteous to even the newest members. A Salesforce MVP, Matt Lamb actually suggested the site to me and said that the best way to build your knowledge base was to go in and see what real-world problems people were facing and try to solve them. Not only are you gaining exposure by answering and asking questions you are also building up skills around problems you may never encounter in your current company.
#Askforce: Unlike the first two resources, this isn’t a website but a hashtag used on Twitter. Similar to the Success Community there are people monitoring the hashtag who can help you resolve problems or answer questions you may have. I use #Askforce when I have a question that I need an immediate answer to that I can ask in 120 characters or less. With Twitter having such a large user base the response time is usually very quick and the responders can make great mentors to follow for the newest in Salesforce issues, resolutions and updates. The one thing to remember is that you are posting on social media so you want to be sure you aren’t sharing anything that your company would want to keep confidential such as customer information, so always check your screenshots. #Askforce can be a very good way to get your name in front of other professionals and build your network. Be aware that this can go both ways though. You want to provide accurate information and not just respond to get your name out there and not inaccurate information that could make you look like you don’t know the system.
YouTube: If you prefer to learn by following along with steps, then the Salesforce YouTube channel might be your preferred resource. They have over one hundred how-to videos that walk you through concepts including security, how to create reports and dashboards, do’s and don’ts in the tool, and importing data. The videos they provide are based on real-world problems and can vary from short 5-minute videos to over 30 minutes long. All of the content is directly from Salesforce so you can trust that the information is fully vetted and can be applied to your instance. This is a great way to freshen up on old topics or to pick-up quick tips and tricks.
5. Salesforce Blogs
Salesforce Blogs: My final suggestion would be Salesforce Blogs like this one. There are many different blogs focused on topics ranging from developing code, to being a good business analyst, to things like how to sort lists. Certified experienced professionals who have backgrounds working with multiple or complex instances typically write for these sites or host their own podcasts. The great thing about blogs is that you have access to numerous opinions, solutions and tutorials that are easily digestible. Some blogs also create video content, which can be extremely beneficial for those who are visual and auditory learners. A simple way to find these blogs is to type in “Salesforce Blog” or “Salesforce Tutorial” in your search engine. One additional tip is that you don’t have to stick with one blog, you can find informative posts in many different spaces. I would bookmark the ones that you really enjoy or sign-up to get the notifications of new posts so you can stay up-to-date. When you are comfortable enough in the system, you may want to start your own blog. It’s a great way to force yourself to stay on-top of the latest and greatest and to collaborate with other Salesforce users.
Remember that your career path is always evolving and changing. You can go down one path and then decide to change directions. That’s the great thing about working in Salesforce, you can begin in one role, become an administrator, master implementations or move into integrations and it’s all up to you and your ambition. There is no end to what you can do and with the right training, collaboration, exposure, and experience you can carve out your own path and advance yourself as far as you want to go.