Best Practice for Hiring Managers in Salesforce

Think beyond “candidate needs 3–5 years of Salesforce experience” when looking for the best talent. Focus on these three Trailblazing characteristics instead.

Lissa has been a user and an admin working on the Salesforce Platform for more than 12 years. She is a 5x #CertifiedPro, a Trailhead Ranger with 400+ badges, a mentor in the Trailblazer Connect program, co-leader of the Indianapolis Women in Technology User Group, and Director, Salesforce Business Analysis at Liberty Mutual Insurance, leading the team of Salesforce Admins.

As a hiring manager who recently hired five additional Salesforce Administrators over an 8-month period, I’m here to tell you to throw out the “candidate needs 3–5 years of Salesforce experience” requirement. Instead, focus on these three Trailblazing characteristics.

#1: They actively earn badges on Trailhead

If a candidate spends their personal time learning and earning Trailhead badges, this shows me that they’re driven, motivated, and already more technical than I was when I started my Salesforce career. They choose to spend their time and energy skilling-up and building their Salesforce skills and knowledge.

With Trailhead, you can skill up for the future and learn in-demand skills that lead to top jobs. It’s gamified learning (and fun!) plus it’s free!

Even if the candidate doesn’t have any experience working in an actual Salesforce role, have they completed any superbadges? Superbadges offer real-world business problems that Trailhead users solve on their own, without step-by-step instructions.

And superbadges are tough.

If a candidate has earned one or more of them, it shows me they’re dedicated, focused, and resilient. You can even use this as a tool to assess their design thinking skills in an interview by asking probing questions about how they solved a specific superbadge.

Similarly, have they built any apps on their own? I’ve talked to several new Trailblazers who track their job applications, interviews, and job offers in apps that they’ve designed and built in a Trailhead Playground.

If someone is utilizing the platform to build their own apps to solve problems they’ve proactively identified, I can see firsthand that they can apply the concepts and lessons they’ve learned on Trailhead in real-life scenarios.

In the interview, ask:

  • About their favorite Trailhead modules and projects
  • Them to show you an app or object they’ve built in a hands-on challenge that they’re proud of
  • About a time they’ve struggled getting a challenge to succeed
  • About what strategies they used to make it successful

How they handle and respond to failure will be a great indicator of how they’ll perform and react when they face those real-life hurdles in a Salesforce role.

#2: They are active in the Trailblazer Community

If a candidate attends local Community Group meetings and Dreamin’ events, or participates in the Trailblazer Community, it tells me that they’re passionate and excited about Salesforce as a platform and as a career path.

They use their personal time to focus on learning and networking with the Trailblazer Community. And, even better, they already have a built-in support network, ready and willing to help brainstorm, troubleshoot, and give them advice along the way.

While we’re on the topic: Are YOU, as a hiring manager, active in the Trailblazer Community? If so, you probably already have a list of enthusiastic, motivated, and talented Trailblazers you hope will apply for your open Salesforce position.

And those potential candidates will probably be more excited to work with you, someone who they know is just as passionate as they are about the Salesforce ecosystem and their career development.

Also, get involved with programs like PathfinderMerivisPepUp Tech, and Trailblazer Connect, where brand new Trailblazers receive invaluable business and Salesforce training — and build even more connections within the community.

The participants in these programs dedicate their time and energy to skilling-up and learning the platform by tackling real-life case studies and solving problems. All while developing relationships and getting partnered with mentors who want them to be successful now and in the future.

#3: They can translate their skills gained from work experience OUTSIDE of Salesforce

Check out the #myTrailblazerStory hashtag on Twitter to see just how vast the past experience can be for Salesforce Administrators. So many of us (myself included) accidentally fell into an admin role, without having ANY prior technical experience — and often before life-changing resources like Trailhead existed.

Regardless of someone’s work history, odds are they have past skills that will benefit them in their Salesforce career path.

For example, bartenders, flight attendants, retail sales associates, and baristas are:

  • Customer service rock stars who understand the importance of being customer-centric
  • Consultants who often read their customers’ minds, anticipate their needs, and suggest improvements
  • Project managers who prioritize requests and determine where they can deliver the most value
  • Analysts who reflect on their experiences and constantly work to improve quality
  • Problem solvers who want to make other’s lives better

All of these skills will be incredibly beneficial in a Salesforce role.

In the interview, ask behavioral questions to determine whether the candidate is a customer-focused, proactive problem solver. Even if they don’t have specific Salesforce experiencelearn more about their soft skills, how their past work can be applied to the role, and about their motivation and drive. Trailhead will help teach the rest.

Bonus: They have attempted a certification… pass OR fail

Salesforce certifications are invaluable. They show a willingness to take risks and are a great way to prove platform knowledge. But not everyone is a good test taker. I know several full-time, super-awesome Salesforce Admins who still struggle to pass their certification exams. It doesn’t make them any less of an #AwesomeAdmin.

Trailblazers shouldn’t let the fear of failing hold them back. They need to embrace their fear and take their certification exam. Risk-taking should be encouraged AND valued — even if it means (multiple) retakes.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but I get really excited in interviews to hear that a candidate did NOT pass their Admin certification until attempt 2 or 3 or 4 (or is still working toward that goal). It shows me they’re incredibly persistent, resilient, and motivated.

And when we push through challenges, use the feedback we receive, and keep on trying, we get even smarter and learn even more. Tenacious candidates with a growth mindset are exactly the type of people I want to work with.

The number of open Salesforce roles continues to grow

The latest predictions show that there will be an estimated 4.2 million new jobs created in the Salesforce ecosystem in the next 6 years.

If you’re a hiring manager who is waiting around for someone with “3–5 years of experience,” you’re missing out on the new, ambitious, and motivated Trailblazers who are entering this space, building foundational skills, and ready to make an impact using Salesforce.

What’s more, if you’re already one of those Trailblazers who has several years of Salesforce experience, I challenge and encourage you to give back, Be A Multiplier, volunteer, be a mentor, participate in the Trailblazer Community, be a leader, and make space for all the newbies who will join us in the coming years.

The entire ecosystem (and all of the new Trailblazers entering this space) will benefit from your guidance, support, and leadership in this time of Salesforce growth — a growth set to expand exponentially in the coming years.

Think big, find the best talent

So join me — don’t limit your criteria to “3–5 years of Salesforce experience” when looking for new talent. Think bigger, focus on these valuable Trailblazing characteristics, and you’ll hire the best, well-rounded, motivated, and determined candidates (you can thank me later!).

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