In this article Thijs Vermeulen, Salesforce Consultant from the Netherlands, shares his Trailblazer journey to becoming a Salesforce Consultant. He is a certified Salesforce Administrator, App Builder, Sales Cloud Consultant and CPQ Specialist.
It can be easy to feel like you’re too old for a career change, and even more so if you’re considering moving into an IT role. However, I’m here to tell you that you are never too old to pursue a career you feel passionate about, and I should know, in the space of a year I became a trailblazing Salesforce Consultant at the age of 38.
In this article I want to explain how you too can become a Salesforce Consultant and I have some specific tips to make the transition easier and less intimidating.
How it all Started
I was living in Gouda (you know, like the cheese?!) and I was quite unhappy and dissatisfied with my work as an IT consultant (non-Salesforce related). I was having drinks with a neighbour and after venting some of my frustrations, he suggested I try a new career in Salesforce.
I had been working in IT for 20 years, so I knew about the company Salesforce, but only by name and reputation as “those CRM guys with their Software as a Service”.
“No way”, I said, “I’m too old”! My neighbour’s wife laughed at me, while explaining that she had given up her job and started her own business at the age of 47, so I was definitely not too old.
My lack of technical, hands-on experience was my second objection. Not to be deterred, my neighbour told me about Trailhead, a free and fun way to learn about Salesforce.
That’s how it all started…
How I became Passionate about Salesforce
The next day I created a Trailhead Account and my journey began. I was surprised by how fun and engaging the learning platform was. The content was well written, accessible and funny, while the gamification (scoring points and collecting badges) compelled me to keep learning. Trailhead gave me a detailed insight into the Salesforce platform, it’s features and it’s beautiful, intuitive interface.
I felt inspired and super excited at the thought that I could be a consultant and able to help companies implementing Salesforce.
I also felt reassured that I didn’t need to be able to code to have a career in Salesforce. Trailhead demonstrated the impressive declarative programming features that I felt sure I could learn.
I was sold. This is what I want to do!
How to Become a Salesforce Consultant
To achieve my goal of being a Salesforce Consultant I needed to skill up, get certified and find a job. No small feat. Here’s how I did it.
Start with Trailhead
First, I started studying with Trailhead every evening, logging multiple hours for weeks in a row. The aim? Score badges, collect points and gain a deep understanding of the Salesforce platform. You really should start with the basics in Trailhead. For example with the Sales Cloud Basics and the Salesforce Platform Basics trails.
Become a Certified Salesforce Admin
I knew it was critical to get certified as a Salesforce Administrator in order to achieve my goal to become a Salesforce Consultant. Not only would it demonstrate my skills and knowledge, getting certified in my own time would show how passionate and enthusiastic I was.
I used two main tools:
Trailhead combines theory, scenario based learning and hands-on experience doing exercises in a dev org.
I recommend the Trailmix Prepare for Your Salesforce Administrator Credential.
Focus on Force:
But Trailhead alone isn’t enough to pass the Salesforce Administrator exam; you need to know a (seemingly) absurd level of detail about Salesforce functionality. For this I used Focus on Force.
I recommend purchasing the exam guide and the practice exams pack; together they cost just shy of $40 and are well worth it. Focus on Force is all written content so it can seem quite dry and tough going, especially for the visual learner, but I would stress that this content was key to my passing the exam. The practice exams are written in the same style as the actual Salesforce exam so it can help make you comfortable with the question tone and format.
My study strategy has paid off and now, one year later, I’m also a certified App Builder, Sales Cloud Consultant and CPQ specialist.
Invest a Little Money and a Lot of Time
When studying alone you have to be highly motivated and able to hold yourself accountable. I made myself a promise that I would get to Trailhead Ranger status within 4 weeks and that I would be a Salesforce Certified Administrator by the time I started my first job as a Salesforce Consultant.
I was happy to invest both time and money in my pursuit of a new career. Salesforce study materials are mostly free(!) but it’s worth paying for things like Focus on Force if you’re serious about achieving your goals.
I also invested a significant amount of my time, approximately 2 hours a day, for 3 months in a row.
Potential employers know it takes serious effort and commitment to study in your own time, paying for materials and the exam itself. It demonstrates intrinsic motivation and a drive to achieve your goals.
Use Your Enthusiasm to Sell Yourself
Most people, me included, don’t like to “sell” themselves during an interview. It can feel awkward to talk about your achievements and success. Instead of feeling like you’re boasting, just let your natural enthusiasm, drive and motivation shine through. It’s perfectly ok to let potential employers know how keen you are and how passionate you are about Salesforce. You should feel proud of the effort and hard work you have put into your studies.
I was met with several obstacles when it came to finding employment as a Salesforce Consultant. Don’t be put off!
“We can hire two juniors for your salary”
When it was time to look for a job, one of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was justifying my salary. As a more experienced candidate (more work experience, not more Salesforce experience), with a whole host of industry knowledge and soft skills, I commanded a higher salary than a junior member of staff.
To some employers this begged the question “Why hire him when we can hire two juniors for his salary?”
This is very short sighted as it ignores all the benefits of hiring someone with more years of work experience. These experienced candidates will come with all the soft skills needed to be a successful consultant. As we’ve seen, technical skills can be learned, but soft skills and general work experience take a lot longer. The effort to train and manage two juniors will end up costing the company more in the long term.
It might seem like a lot of hard work and effort, but pursuing your dream career is always worth it. Whilst you may face some obstacles, the Salesforce ecosystem is growing, with more and more jobs being created. With the right skills, experience and enthusiasm, there will be a job for you.
As for me, I’m very thankful that I found an employer who was primarily sold on my enthusiasm and believed in me. Growteq gave me the opportunity to do a job that I absolutely love and I look forward to learning even more!