Jeanne Moeller's blog post "Awesome Admin Success: Highlight Your Skills."

Awesome Admin Success: Highlight Your Skills in the Salesforce Ecosystem

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My name is Jeanne Moeller and I’m a proud #AwesomeAdmin! It didn’t happen overnight, and my journey to get here was definitely not a straight line. You see, over the last 30+ years, I’ve done everything from scooping ice cream for tourists, managing a banquet department for a full-scale hotel, designing an international training program, and working a support desk for Salesforce end users. It was only recently that I found my first #AwesomeAdmin job as a business analyst at Simplus—and I couldn’t be happier!

We often hear amazing stories about aspiring Salesforce Administrators who quickly rise and secure great jobs. We hear about those who come from non-technical backgrounds or just so happened to be at the right place at the right time. But what we don’t hear enough about are those like myself who struggled to find the right opportunity or get that first foot in the door to the Salesforce ecosystem. It’s my hope that this blog post will inspire you to never give up hope and give you the confidence that, YES, there is indeed a place for YOU in the Salesforce ecosystem.

The pandemic has been difficult for us all. For me, it was extremely hard to get through the past two years as I struggled with bouts of depression—but there was something about Salesforce and the community that kept me coming back. I want people who struggle with depression, PTSD, and learning comprehension to know it is possible to change the trajectory of your career. It’s not going to be easy, but it is possible.

Leaping, learning, and developing skills

When you make the decision to change careers, it’s often a leap of faith. After all, none of us know what the future holds and it can be nerve-racking to leave the comfort of familiarity. When I think about my Salesforce journey, there are three specific times that come to mind when I took big leaps of faith—and I’m so glad I had the courage to take them.

My first leap was in the summer of 2017 when I discovered Trailhead. I instantly fell in love with the learning environment and decided to pursue a certification. My second leap was in June 2018 when, after much learning, studying, and practicing, I took the Salesforce Administrator Certification exam—AND PASSED! The third, and probably the biggest, leap was on May 3, 2019, when I resigned from my job. That’s when the real hard work started. At the time, I worked in the Salesforce ecosystem helping end users, and I knew I wanted to continue to work within Salesforce, but I didn’t have enough experience to promote myself as knowledgeable in any one area.

It was then that I started to look at my skill set from my previous experience. I knew the frustrations of end users and how they struggled to learn where to find resources or complete a task. I was great at training and curriculum design, but my previous role in this area left me feeling so burnt out that I wasn’t interested in considering a similar role. In hindsight, I didn’t realize that this mindset was actually a blocker for getting a Salesforce Admin job sooner than I did, because I refused to focus on something I knew really well. I learned a very valuable lesson in that you should never overlook past experience in previous careers/industries, as there are still valuable transferable skills that you’ve developed that could help you land your first Salesforce Admin role. Recruiters often have a checklist of “requirements,” so knowing how to navigate the discussion about transferable skills is super important.

In terms of developing additional skills, I also recommend looking for free certification bootcamps offered by Community Groups. YouTube also has some great extended content for learning Salesforce topics.

Networking and mentoring

Networking is an important aspect of building your career, and thankfully, the Trailblazer Community is very welcoming and friendly. Networking is the easy part. What you do with these connections is the hard part and, truthfully, what makes the difference. There’s no way around it—you have to network to stay active and current within the Trailblazer Community. You don’t need to be the best networker around or have hundreds of connections—I certainly don’t. But having the right group of connections is the key to successful networking. Someone knows someone and they are happy to make introductions.

How do you get started networking? We often connect with others by finding something in common. If you’re looking to connect with a particular person, find something you have in common with them—do your research! If they’re featured on a webinar or podcast, listen to it and then reach out to them afterward. You’ll be surprised how many people reply back on Twitter! For example, I connected with someone because they wrote a paper on adult learning theory and Salesforce user acceptance, a topic (adult learning) that I studied in grad school.

If it’s an in-person event, think of an ice breaker or a conversation starter. Also, look at the list of event attendees, and make a list of those you want to meet.

Jeanne holding her bingo card.

Get creative in your networking! At a pre-pandemic Salesforce event, I made a bingo card that had three categories:

  1. People I had met online and wanted to meet in person
  2. Recruiters
  3. People I wanted to thank for their contributions to the Trailblazer Community

The bingo card was a huge hit! Once I explained the purpose to a few people, they started looking at the card and making introductions for me.

Bingo card used at a Salesforce networking event.

Figure out WHO you want to connect with and WHY. Is there someone in a role you aspire to have? Maybe someone at a company you’d like to work for? Or maybe it has nothing to do with Salesforce directly (hint: Apparently LEGOs are a big thing in the ecosystem!).

LinkedIn is another great way to connect, but remember to add a note to your connection request—don’t just click “Connect.”

Networking takes time, research, and planning, but once you start, your network will continue to grow. Something closely related to networking is mentorship. Having a mentor provide guidance can help accelerate your learning journey and career. I don’t have just one mentor, I have multiple mentors. One mentor is great at making connections. Another mentor knows a specific industry. The key learning here is to take bits and pieces from everyone you connect with. It may feel like you’re doing a lot of “taking” from others, but know that one day you’ll also be able to give back by sharing your journey and insights with others.

Revising resumes and preparing for interviews

Someone once reviewed my resume and suggested that for every bullet point or statement I made, I should ask myself, “So what?” That is, ask myself why each specific point is important to highlight for the role(s) I apply for.

I struggled with what to put on my resume. I didn’t have tangible achievements, like saving a company thousands of dollars or reducing productivity time by 50%. I was a curriculum developer and wrote courses, and, truthfully, we had no way of quantifying if my courses had a specific impact on the company. So, I had to get creative and focus on my transferrable skills and the value these skills have.

Revision is key when writing your resume. Have someone proofread it. Talk with recruiters and ask them to review it. Also, ask your mentors for feedback. Resume writing is not easy and can be very frustrating, especially if you’re a mid-career switcher.

A traditional resume layout is chronological, with jobs and then education. I tried multiple layouts in hopes one would do the trick. If you have several years of experience (like myself with 30+ years of workforce experience), I recommend shortening your resume to include your most relevant jobs. My last resume included these sections:

  • Professional Profile
  • Technical Summary
  • Experience Highlights
  • Education
  • Employment (one line for each company, position, location, and dates of employment)

When it comes to finding the right role, I look for ones where I can make a positive impact on the team and help others do the same. Apply for roles you can be passionate about.

Now, let’s talk about interviews. I recommend having an “elevator pitch” ready—a 30-second, memorable description of yourself and how your skills can add value to the role you’re applying for. Be confident speaking about your past work experience and how your skills can carry over into a Salesforce role.

When preparing for your interview, don’t forget to research the company and the people you’re meeting with—LinkedIn is your friend! Learn about the company and its mission. For me, community impact is very important. So, when looking for roles, I researched whether the company supported charities and allowed for time off to volunteer, and if their values aligned with mine.

Another tip when preparing for an interview is to spin up a Salesforce dev org! Instead of talking about all the amazing admin skills you have, show them! This way, YOU are in control of the interview and will feel confident and excited about showing what you built. Better still, have a document outlining the thought process behind what you built and how. Did it all work the first time, or were there issues that you had to troubleshoot? This will show the interviewers firsthand what great problem-solving skills you have! What did you learn in the process? How did you go about planning and building the org? What was your inspiration? This is all about showcasing your amazing skill set and providing insight into your ability to perform the role successfully.

Above all, remember to have faith and believe in yourself. An interview is a two-way conversation. Be prepared to ask questions. Listen carefully to what others say and ask follow-up questions.

You CAN do it!

Success IS possible—but it requires dedication, persistence, and hard work. If you’re passionate about becoming a Salesforce Admin, know that there are so many different ways to grow your skill set and showcase your past experience. It often requires creativity, and there are people within the Trailblazer Community who will help you along the way. Never give up, and remember—the dictionary is the ONLY PLACE where success comes before work!

Resources

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