From beginner to professional: how to learn Salesforce from scratch
Manish Thaduri is a 7x Certified Salesforce Platform Specialist, and editor at SFDC Fanboy. Here, he has given his expert tips on how to go from a Salesforce novice to a fully fledged professional.
“How can you go from a beginner to a qualified Salesforce professional?” is one of the intriguing questions that everyone faces when stepping into the Salesforce ecosystem.
You could have landed in Salesforce technology for a number of different reasons:
- the company you are working for is switching to Salesforce;
- you are personally switching your career into Salesforce technology;
- or your client wants to implement Salesforce to improve their business.
For whatever reason, you ended up in Salesforce with little to minimum knowledge of Salesforce technology and now you want to take your career to the next level. If you’re looking to advance your career in Salesforce then this post is for you.
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Know where you stand
The first thing that will help you advance your career in Salesforce is to know where you are currently are and where you want to be in the future. Without knowing where you currently stand in the Salesforce ecosystem, you won’t know how to advance your career.
Let’s see what Salesforce can offer to people of varied skill sets. There are a number of roles in Salesforce — Administrator, Developer, Consultant, Marketer, Architect — and within these roles there are the beginner, advanced and expert levels. Know what you are:
- A Salesforce Admin provides value to the business by automating complex business processes, creating reports & dashboards, and training users on using Salesforce.
- If you eliminate any repetitive task, automate it with apex code, build custom solutions then consider yourself a Salesforce Developer.
- A Salesforce Consultant focuses on tackling complex business challenges and solving them through business improvements, delivering innovative solutions using Salesforce.
- Whereas a Salesforce Marketer creates targeted marketing campaigns, and relies on customer data and marketing automation tools to seamlessly engage with audiences across all channels.
- A Salesforce Technical Architect designs systems that stand up to high volumes that won’t fail at a critical point and also integrates systems.
You could be doing one of the above roles or sometimes multiple roles at a time. Salesforce has well-defined certification tracks for each of the roles and levels mentioned. Here are the available certifications for admin, developer, consultant, and marketer:
Salesforce Certification Routes
If you are at the top level of these certifications, progress your career by doing the advanced certifications in your respective roles i.e., Advanced Admin certification for an admin, Platform Developer 2 for a developer. Consultants can expand their horizon by getting the certifications of varied fields, aka clouds. A marketer can advance by becoming a consultant in B2C (Marketing Cloud Consultant) or B2B (Pardot Consultant) areas.
An advanced Salesforce Developer can aim to become a Salesforce Technical Architect. For architects, it is a different story than the above. Here is a separate pyramid of certifications for you to climb and become a Certified Technical Architect. This comes with 4 specialized designer certifications:
Salesforce Architect Certification Journey
The certifications you hold will help you determine which level you are, showcase your skill level and also help you progress your career in the right direction by getting the next caliber of certifications. Most companies consider your Salesforce certifications as proof of your knowledge and skill level. Now that you know where you are currently at, and where you want to head to, let’s discuss how to achieve that.
The only way to advance your career is by learning. You may lack experience, i.e. you’re given a job you may not know how to do, but you should know what to do. That comes from learning, and you can learn through various means:
Salesforce has been around for long enough that the technology is now mature, with a lot of features and improvements, thanks to its quarterly releases. It is hard to cope with that pace. Salesforce also understands that and, as you know, Salesforce has created a single learning platform called Trailhead to provide an easier way for everyone to stay educated on Salesforce.
Trailhead is an underrated platform for advanced learners and there’s a common misconception that it is only suited for beginners. No, there are a number of modules and trails aimed at advanced learners with advanced features explained in detail. Not only that, it provides you with hands-on experience of almost all the features with free training material.
For example, for a developer who wants to advance their career to a Senior Developer, Trailhead provides modules that explain how API integration is done, how to handle bulk volumes while coding, how to improve system performance etc. All these with real working code is provided in the Trailhead modules. What else would you need to advance your developer knowledge to the next level? Trailhead is for everyone and for all levels.
There’s no better place than your current company to learn Salesforce and advance your career. Every company encourages you to learn, as it will benefit you and them as well. Attend the training programs, learn while doing the projects. Try to involve yourself in different projects with different clients.
Have a good healthy relationship with your manager or a senior person in your current job who can be a good mentor for you. It is important to convey your goals and your aspirations of advancing your career to them. Have frequent one-to-one meetings with your manager to discuss your career goals and the plans for your career advancement.
If you are a fresher in Salesforce, try to get an internship in a company that uses Salesforce. This will be a huge bonus. Do freelancer jobs (if permitted), get the most basic Salesforce projects, learn while you earn. Yes, these pay the least $ but the experience and learning you get from doing this is immense. Your ‘future you’ will thank the ‘past you’ for doing this.
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Then there’s an ocean of free content available on the internet created by Salesforce enthusiasts in the form of blogs, YouTube videos, podcasts, articles, and online courses etc. The content is truly unlimited. Follow the one that suits your learning style.
If self-learning is hard for you, choose a mentor. There are a lot of free Salesforce community members who volunteer to be a mentor. Mentorship Central is a group dedicated to matching mentees seeking specific Salesforce goals with mentors. In the Salesforce community, people strive to give back as much as possible and they know that we all grow together.
Being a mentee allows you to select from a broad range of mentors with diverse experience. Selecting the right mentor for your career goals is paramount to your success in future roles. A Salesforce mentor can guide you through the Salesforce world. By volunteering as a mentee you agree to learn and grow with your mentor. Join the Success Community Chatter group, Mentorship Central here.
Volunteering as a mentor can be a rich and rewarding experience too. You don’t have to be at the top of your career, as there are people for mentors of all skill levels and at different points in their careers. By volunteering as a mentor, you are embarking on a journey with your mentee that not only allows you to share your experience and wealth of knowledge but also allows you to grow within your career as well.
If the above is not enough, the amazing Salesforce online trailblazer community and trailblazer community meetup groups are at your guidance every second of your journey. Connect with the online community members to learn, get inspired, blaze your trails together and advance your career. Learn by answering others questions too — give more to get more. Join the online community here.
Join local Trailblazer community groups to connect, learn and have fun with trailblazers like yourself at regular meetings in your city. Meet peers who live in your city, work in similar roles and industries, and share your special interests.
At any point in your career, it is important to understand where you are currently at career-wise and what options you have to further progress your career from thereon. Salesforce provides you with varied career options in terms of roles and responsibilities. Based on your interests and goals, choose the learning methods described above to progress your career in your desired path.
Manish Thaduri / SFDC Fanboy
Manish Thaduri is a 7x certified Salesforce Technical Architect and editor at the blog SFDC Fanboy. As well as supporting professionals towards their certification exams, he also shares technical Salesforce tips with his readers to help those already deep into their Salesforce journey.