Reentering the workforce with Salesforce
Before I had my child, I felt like I had created the perfect scenario in which I could both contribute to supporting my family and spend a significant amount of time with my baby. I had visions of working from home with my sleeping baby rocking gently in the swing in the corner. In my vision, he was very peaceful and I was very productive.
Did I mention this is a comedy blog?
The work situation I was in while I was pregnant, and continued in for the first 5 years of my child's life, was mostly performing background checks for the federal government. There is a tremendous amount of flexibility in this line of work. The harsh reality, however, is that there is a basic fixed-rate per investigative component that does not vary based on experience and has stayed about the same for the last decade. In other words, there is a lot of hustle and no upward mobility.
Right after my kid's fifth birthday, just over a year ago, I was lucky to have some good friends insist that I start learning about Salesforce.
This was actually the second time they tried to push Salesforce on me. The first time was in 2016 right before we moved from NYC to Denver. However, at the time I was still in the mindset that conducting background investigations was the best way to support my family, despite the total mismatch in income versus expenses. I think I was also a little attached to having a top-secret security adjudication and the ability to ask interesting people incredibly invasive questions, neither of which were good reasons to continue going into debt for a job I didn't thoroughly enjoy.
So, here I am a year later with a salaried job that I love. I spend time both in an office and working from home. I have the flexibility to attend all of my kid's activities. This is largely a reflection of my work environment, rather than just the career path I am now on. However, jobs in tech are often going to be the most flexible jobs you will find.
Here is the quick and dirty on Salesforce:
Salesforce is a Saas (Software as a service) CRM (Customer Relationship Management) product. In other words, it is subscription-based cloud software that companies leverage to manage their clients, employees, marketing efforts, etc, etc, etc. Salesforce has acquired a vast number of companies over the years, which means that the uses for it are endless, and the employment paths are varied and plentiful.
My personal niche has turned out to be mostly marketing automation. I spend most of my time coding and sometimes designing emails and landing pages for a variety of clients. I also create the automations that send these communications based on events such as purchases, marketing campaigns, etc.
There are, however, many routes to take depending on what you are interested in. Our company has people who specialize in many areas, and we all work together to create interesting solutions for our clients.
Sound interesting? Well, lucky for you, Salesforce has a robust and free education system called Trailhead. If you'd like to take a look around and perhaps see if this is an industry you are interested in, I created a Trailmix that will expose you to several options in the Salesforce environment. Take a look and see if anything piques your interest! Also, download their iOs app and learn something in your spare time instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.
Once you have an idea of the route you'd like to take, follow the suggestions in Trailhead to expand your knowledge base, and then get certified.
Salesforce Certifications are the best way to prove to potential employers that you actually know the product. If you do not have an immediate path to employment in the Salesforce universe, getting certified will get you a huge step closer. In the last year, I have obtained seven Salesforce Certifications. This is not a normal rate of obtaining certifications, but it has been a lot of fun for me to hit these achievements.
Unlike the Trailheads, Certification tests are not free. However, of the seven tests I have passed, a couple of them were free. The rest were discounted. I have not yet paid the full price for a certification test.
The first free test I obtained was through a Trailhead Quest. I cannot recall the challenge I completed, but it was certainly nice to receive an email with a code for a free certification test. There are other prizes under the Quests as well, including a $200 gift card just for completing badges (at the time of this writing).
The next free test I obtained was through a Beta test. The best way to discover Beta tests is by following the twitter accounts for the Salesforce products you are interested in. For example, following Marketing Cloud on Twitter led me to the Marketing Cloud Administrator Beta test.
Now, the discounted tests. I took a few tests with a $70 discount after attending Certification Days webinars. These are free webinars that are designed to prepare you to pass the certification tests. Plus they send you a coupon code after completing the webinar. These are great and I highly recommend making time to attend them both for the information and for the discount. Keep on eye on that link, as the courses are kept up to date there.
Finally, if you are struggling to find an employer who will hire a certified Salesforce professional with zero work experience, take a look at volunteering, interning or small jobs on Upwork. Make connections and be willing to start small. I did not start with a salaried job - I started with my current company as a part-time hourly employee and worked my way into their hearts and onto their full-time payroll.