Top 3 Trailblazing Characteristics

According to Lissa Smith, Sr Manager Business Architecture at Salesforce, talent isn’t just about looking at a candidate’s experience. Hiring managers should be assessing these three Trailblazing characteristics.

I’ve hired numerous new Salesforce Administrators across multiple roles throughout my career, and I can tell you firsthand that you should throw out your candidate needs 3-5 years of Salesforce experience requirement and instead focus on these three Trailblazing characteristics.

#1: They are actively skilling up with Trailhead

When I see a candidate who spends their off-hours learning and earning badges on Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, I can immediately tell they have the drive and motivation to succeed (and that they’re already more technically skilled than I was when I started my Salesforce career!).

Trailhead helps you skill up for the future and learn the most in-demand skills that will help you land a top job in the Salesforce ecosystem. The learning is interactive, gamified, and, best of all, it’s free!

If you’re considering a candidate who doesn’t have any experience working in a Salesforce role, check to see if they’ve earned any superbadges. Superbadges present learners with real-world business problems that must be solved without step-by-step instructions, so they’re a good test of how the candidate will perform in a real-world business scenario.

Superbadges are NOT easy!

A candidate who’s earned a superbadge is more likely to have the dedication, focus, and resilience you’re looking for. Asking them about how they solved a specific superbadge is a great way to go deeper in an interview and really dive into their design thinking skills.

Has the candidate built any apps on their own time? I’ve interviewed Trailblazers who have designed and built their own dedicated job-hunting apps in the Trailhead Playground, using them to track applications, interviews, and job offers. If you find a candidate who can proactively identify a problem, then design and build the solution to that problem, then you know they can apply the concepts and lessons of Trailhead to real-world scenarios.

Ask your candidate:

  • What are your favorite Trailhead modules and projects?
  • Can you show me an app or object you’ve built in a hands-on challenge that you’re particularly proud of?
  • Tell me about a time you’ve struggled getting a challenge to succeed.
  • What strategies have you used to achieve success?

How a candidate responds to setbacks while learning is a great indicator of how they will perform when they face real-world challenges in a Salesforce role.

#2: They participate in the Trailblazer Community

Candidates who go to local Trailblazer Community Group Meetings and Dreamin’ events and take part in the Trailblazer Community are usually excited about and committed to Salesforce both as a platform and a career path. These candidates use their own time to learn more and to network with others in the Trailblazer Community.

And since they’ve put in that networking time, they’ve also developed a built-in support system—people who can help them brainstorm and troubleshoot problems, all while giving them advice along their career journey. With so many of us now meeting online, there’s no physical limit to the groups that candidates can join anywhere, from their own backyard to the other side of the globe!

And while we’re talking about it, are YOU staying active in the Trailblazer Community?

If you are, you probably have a shortlist of passionate, talented, and motivated Trailblazers you’d love to have apply for your open Salesforce positions. The potential candidates you’ll connect with will probably be more interested in working with you if they know you’re equally as passionate as they are about the Salesforce ecosystem and their career potential.

Try getting involved with programs like PathfinderMerivisPepUp Tech, and Trailblazer Connect, the places that brand new Trailblazers go for business and Salesforce training—and where you can build even better community connections.

You’ll find participants in these programs who focus their time and energy on skilling up and learning the platform through taking on real-world case studies and solving those problems. As they do this, they also develop strong networks and gain mentors who will help them find success in their careers.

#3: They have work experience OUTSIDE of Salesforce that translates well

If you look at the #TrailblazerStory hashtag on social, you’ll see the diverse experience that people bring to their jobs as Salesforce Administrators. Many people (including me) landed in admin roles accidentally, without much (or any) previous technical experience.

Some of us even managed this before the life-changing resource of Trailhead existed!

No matter the details of a candidate’s work history, it’s likely they will have some past skills that will help them on their Salesforce career path. For example, those who’ve worked in customer-facing jobs, like bartenders, flight attendants, retail sales associates, and baristas:

  • Have learned the importance of being customer-centric.
  • Know how to anticipate client needs and proactively suggest improvements.
  • Are experienced in prioritizing requests and determining how they can deliver the most value.
  • Tend to be great analysts who learn from their experiences and work to always improve quality.
  • Are the type of problem-solvers who genuinely want to enhance the customer experience.

Any and all of these skills translate perfectly to what’s needed to thrive in Salesforce roles.

As you interview candidates, focus on behavioral questions that will help you determine if they are customer-focused, proactive problem-solvers. For those candidates without specific Salesforce experience, find out more about their soft skills, learn about their motivation and drive, and let them show you how their past work can be applied to the role they’re interviewing for. If they’ve got the right attitude and core customer service mindset, Trailhead can help them do the rest.

Bonus: Pass or fail, they’ve at least attempted a certification

Not everyone is a great test-taker. We know that Salesforce Certifications are a fantastic way to prove platform knowledge, and gaining one or more shows a candidate’s level of commitment and willingness to take risks. That said, I know a few full-time #AwesomeAdmins who still struggle with passing certification exams.

There’s no reason that Trailblazers should let the fear of failing stop them from trying for certification. Embracing the fear and taking the exams shows that a candidate is willing to take risks. And that effort should be encouraged, even if it means several retakes.

In interviews, it’s always great to see someone with certifications on their resume, but I also get excited to talk to candidates who didn’t pass their Admin exam until attempt 2 or 3 or 4 (or they’re still working on that goal). That proves to me they’re not only persistent but also resilient in the face of setbacks and incredibly motivated.

When we push through challenges and keep trying, incorporating the feedback we’ve received, we learn even more. A tenacious candidate with perseverance and a growth mindset is exactly the kind of person I want to work with.

The demand for top Salesforce talent continues to grow

By 2026, there will be an estimated 9.3 million new jobs created in the Salesforce ecosystem.

With this type of exponential growth, waiting around for the candidate who has the traditional “3-5 years of experience” means you’ll miss out on all the newly minted, highly motivated, and passionate Trailblazers who are just now entering the Salesforce ecosystem, building their foundational skills, and are eager to make an impact.

And if you’re a Trailblazer with multiple years of experience, it’s time to start thinking about how you can give back, be a mentor, volunteer, and Be A Multiplier. Contribute to the Trailblazer Community, serve as a leader, and make a place for the excited newbies who will join us in the next few years.

New Trailblazers—and the entire ecosystem in general—can benefit from your support, experience, and guidance during this time of massive Salesforce growth. (Not to mention the boost your career will get from growing your own network and showing your leadership skills!)

Read the full blog at the link below!


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