Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re back with more of our live episode from TrailheaDX. The conversation gets deeper with LaRon Butler, Technical Account Manager at Litify, and Kelley Babbs, Technology Director at Blue Star Families, as we talk about getting hired as an admin and what traits organizations are looking for.
Join us as we talk about the ins and outs of interviewing and hiring, how to cultivate confidence, and transferring your skills from a military background to get hired in tech.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with LaRon Butler and Kelley Babbs.
Eight long months of interviews.
We wanted to take this opportunity to talk about getting hired and marketing yourself as an Awesome Admin because LaRon and Kelley both have unique perspectives. LaRon is early in her journey, while Kelley started as an admin but has transitioned into leading a team that includes them. “It feels great until you don’t get the job or you find out you don’t have enough experience to get the job,” LaRon says, “I thought I was going to save the world when I got my certification and it was going to start tomorrow.”
Instead, it took LaRon more like eight months to find a position that worked for her. She had worked in IT for the Army and the government, “I just assumed that my experience and my transferable skills were more than enough,” she says. “Eight months is entirely too long for someone like me who has a technology background to land my first job,” she says, “and if it wasn’t for this community I would have given up.”
LaRon kept making it to the later rounds of interviews only to not get hired. Eventually, she realized that she needed to ask for help from her peers and mentors. Military folks need to translate their skills a little differently to really make it clear just how much they’re responsible for. She also realized she needed to level up her skills beyond the Admin Certification, so she went back to VetForce for help. She’s now builder certified and community cloud consultant certified and has set her sights on customer success next, and those skills helped her land her new position.
Looking for that Awesome Admin.
For Kelley as a Director of Technology, we wanted to hear what she looks for on the other side of the table when she’s trying to hire that Awesome Admin. “First and foremost, I look for someone who’s excited,” she says, “if you’re not excited about the tools we use then you can’t get our users and our volunteers excited.” As we talked about last week, it’s not necessarily important that a new hire knows anything and everything, but they do need to know how to learn more.
Kelley is also big on personality: “Be a fun human because we have to work together all the time.” That comes down to confidence and being able to make a strong connection in the interview process. Finally, she pays special attention to the VetForce community because for Blue Star giving back is central to their values. “The person who has ten Salesforce certs always looks at you, they’re always willing to share how they got there and what they know,” she says.
For LaRon, she’s changed her attitude coming into interviews. “Initially, I didn’t want to brag or be overconfident,” she says, “now I take control over the conversation a little bit more, I ask them engaging questions, I showcase my personality, I let them know that I’m excited about what they do and that their work is important.” Focusing on the conversation helped her get out of the mentality of “being a dictionary” and worrying about having all the answers instead of building a relationship.
Learning to translate your skills as a veteran.
“I forget all the time that no one speaks the same language as me,” Kelley says, “so I can’t say, ‘My husband’s going TDY and then he’s going to PCS.’” One of the ways that she helped herself when she was starting out was by making a Salesforce glossary. “As far as translating skills, veterans and military spouses are kind of really dope people. We’re adaptable, we’re agile, we’re committed, we’re not afraid of new situations—that’s a big one—change is constant for us.”
“We pretty much are project managers,” LaRon adds, “from the private to the senior officer we’re managing projects that are given to us at the last minute.” You’re often in a situation where you can’t go home until you get the job done, and veterans learn these skills from a young age. “When you develop as an adult at seventeen, eighteen, or twenty-one and those are the skills you’re using each and every day you have no choice but to be super awesome.”
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Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce admins podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I’m Gillian Bruce and today folks, we are listening to the second part of the live recording we did at TrailheaDx just a few weeks ago, featuring LaRon Butler and Kelly Babbs, both part of the Vetforce community but both with very different perspectives and experience in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Gillian Bruce: Last week we heard a little bit about their stories, about how they found their way into Salesforce and what they do now. This week we’re going to focus on the second part of the conversation, which was a lot around how do you make yourself a more attractive, awesome admin to get hired, how you look for traits as a hiring manager in admins, because Kelly actually manages a team at Blue Star Families and LaRon was really deep in her search to find that amazing, awesome admin job, which she has since found since this recording. But we had a really great conversation about how to market yourself, market your skills, transfer skills to the Salesforce community from other industries. So without further ado, let’s get right into that conversation and please welcome back. LaRon Butler and Kelly Babbs to the podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Okay, so let’s get back to it. All right, so for this part, for this podcast, I’d really like to talk about, you know, the ecosystem for the Salesforce admin career. We have LaRon and Kelly, you’re both in very different spots in your career, but you are very familiar with building your career in the ecosystem. LaRon, you’re very early in your journey in establishing yourself as an awesome admin. And Kelly, you started as an admin and now you’re actually leading a team that includes admins. So LaRon, I’d love to know from you, what is the experience like? You know, you get your certification, you feel like you’re ready to go, you got a bunch of Trailhead badges. How does that feel?
LaRon: It was great until you don’t get the job or you find out you don’t have enough experience to get the job. So I thought I was going to save the world when I got my certification and it was going to start tomorrow. I have this job fair tomorrow and I’m going to walk away, you know, with a job, you know, and that was eight long months ago.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Okay. So tell me a little bit about what’s going on in those eight months.
LaRon: Well, so let’s just back it up just a little bit. So one, I was a cable dog in the army, so I ran cable, right?
Gillian Bruce: Oh my gosh, I think this is the first time we’ve ever had the cable and stuff like cables.
LaRon: So I was a cable dog, that was my career. If you’re army where I was in Lima signal, all that morphed into IT. And I even, my last role was in the government as IT director as a GS 12 and I walked away from that career and I decided to go take, you know, take a risk. And I did that. And when I realized I need to take a step back, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with doing the hard work. And I just assumed that my experience and my transferable skills were more than enough. And there’s this disconnect that I experienced and I’m here to rally for and be an advocate for everyone.
LaRon: That’s going through this because eight months is entirely too long for someone like me, who has a technology background to land my first job. And if it wasn’t for this awesome community, I may have given up on almost three, at least three different occasions. The interview process was four and five interviews at a time. And sometimes there’s so much work that goes with it. You don’t have the opportunity to juggle two and three companies at a time. And so there’s the HR screens and the tech reviews and the peer reviews and the manager reviews and the VP’s. And I made it to the fifth rounds and I’m like, okay, I’ve got a job but I’m one of three, you know, or two. And my experience just wasn’t enough. And I was getting called from top companies, things like that. So my resume was getting me there.
LaRon: So going forward I knew, I came to my peers and my mentors and said, “what am I doing wrong?” There were several things as military folks, we have to translate our skills a little bit differently. But in addition to that, just the matter of saying one word differently and confidence, right? I didn’t have the confidence and I’m here, I just want to ask, you know, the community, there’s architects, solution architects here, you know, all these senior roles. If we have you to support us, why can’t you take a risk on a junior admin or someone new into the ecosystem with proven skills, project management skills, scrum master skills, all of these things? And so five interviews, one company, the first time I was devastated. I was like, “oh no,” you know, and I put my big girl panties on and I went and I did it again, and again, and again.
LaRon: And then, you know, there were times I wanted to give up and I realized admin is just not enough. Okay. Maybe for some it is, but it wasn’t working for me. So I went to level up and skill up and I came back to Vetforce.
LaRon: They just opened up additional programs, but if they hadn’t, I probably would have went through all of them because that was how committed I was. And in the last 90 days I’ve gotten two additional certifications.
Gillian Bruce: Congratulations.
LaRon: I’m now at builder certified. Thank you. And community cloud consultant certified. One thing that I like, me personally, is I love people, I love the people and I really wanted to take on a role that would have me in the community engaging with people, being around people, showcasing and helping other people as well. So, and someone pointed out to me like, LaRon, you may do really well in customer success.
LaRon: It’s a bridge between technology and people and communities and things like that. So that’s where I’m headed now. Marketing, I have some background there. I’m headed into the marketing space, but I knew I needed to get the foundational level covered and I needed to grow my implementation skills so that that’s something no one can ever take from me. And I just had to kick in the doors and I wasn’t taking no for an answer.
LaRon: And I didn’t care if it took five interviews or fifty. However it is, I tell people it’s hard… It’s not hard, but it can be difficult. Or maybe I’m saying that backwards, but the work, the work can be done and now there is, there’s levels to the journey, right? There’s the work, there’s the entry to the door, getting the admin and then there’s also, the communication skills, the networking and the community. And why I’ve drank the Koolaid is because of these, you all the awesome people in this room. The people that encourage me, the people who are by my side and encouraging me every step of the way and they won’t allow me to give up.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. Yeah, that’s, yeah. It’s okay. You can clap. Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Well we’re going to continue on your story just for a second.
LaRon: Okay, okay.
Gillian Bruce: But Kelly, I wanted to talk to you a little bit because you are in a role where you’re actually hiring Salesforce admins and you’re a director of technology. Talk to me a little bit about what you look for and what you kind of observe in terms of looking for that awesome admin and what kinds of things do you look for, what is that process like?
Kelly: So first and foremost, I look for someone who’s excited. If you’re not excited about the tools we use, than you can’t get our users and our volunteers excited, right? So I looked for somebody who’s excited and resourceful. Again, back to that you don’t know have to know everything, but tell me how you’re going to find it. Right? I look for people who are problem solvers first and foremost, and also people who are … just the attitude, right?
Kelly: Like be a fun human, like these people work together all the time, a lot, like, for of our waking hours. So a good fit is also really important. And that’s to your point LaRon, when the confidence comes through in the ability to make that connection, So that we can kind of see. And then I do look to our Vetforce community of course, because it’s also our job to give back just the same.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So a couple of things I’d love to touch on from what both of you said. So confidence is a big thing, right? And I think a lot of people battle the imposter syndrome, no matter what role you’re in, regardless if it’s Salesforce or not, or Salesforce admin or management. How do you kind of battle that? What helps you? I’ve heard you, LaRon, talk about the community a little bit, but you know, you want to feel like you own this and that’s going to give you a leg up.
Gillian Bruce: Right? So Kelly, what helped you with that?
Kelly: I feel like a broken record. My community, like it’s looking to the left and the right and the person who’s got 10 Salesforce certs never looks like this at you. Right? They never looked down. It’s always at you. They’re always willing to share how they got there, what they know.
Kelly: And it’s not different than anything else. When you know you’re supported you then you know you can’t fail. Right. So it’s, the impostor syndrome is real.
Gillian Bruce: Oh totally
Kelly: Right? Of course that’s a thing. But no, I look to my peers, my friends, I mean they’re kind of my family now.
Kelly: They’ll always pick you up and be like, “girl, you got this. Go do it.”
Gillian Bruce: So I call them the Ohana. Right?
Kelly: Literally, yeah.
Gillian Bruce: So LaRon, you’re kind of, you’re just breaking through that a little bit. So aside, is there anything in addition to the community that’s helped you?
LaRon: Well, definitely self-confidence. Initially I didn’t want to be brag. I didn’t want to be overly confident. I didn’t engage in conversation as well. I, if they asked a question, I answered it. If there was a gap, I let them fill in the gap. Now I take control over that conversation just a little bit more. I asked them engaging questions. I showcase my personality. I let them know that I’m excited about what they do and that their work is important, that I’ve done my research on their website.
LaRon: And one, one interview I went on, we happened to go to the same college and we spent, it was the tech interview and we spent our time laughing and joking pretty much most of the interview and I got pushed forward to the next round. And I don’t think he asked me one technical question, because of the engagement. And because I asked a few questions initially, he knew that I knew what I was talking about and that I was confident in the space and he didn’t ask me what’s a record type, you know, and what is an object, you know, and what are the three, you know, it didn’t go there, but initially those were kind of questions I was getting.
LaRon: So I was more like, trying to be a dictionary. Like, this means this and this means that, and now it’s more conversational. And I had to dig deep and see what I could do differently. And once I examined what I could do differently and I elevated that, the engagement got easier and the interview process also became easier.
Gillian Bruce: That’s great. That’s great tips. Yeah, I mean sometimes it’s about those relationships. Sometimes it’s always about the relationships, right? Yeah.
LaRon: Yeah, absolutely.
Gillian Bruce: That’s great. That’s great. So another thing that I wanted to touch on based on kind of what both of you had just talked about. I mean the Vetforce is an incredibly rich community of very talented individuals. But both of you had to transfer your skills from that very specific industry, into a totally other industry. New language, different jargon, different skills, I mean, putting together a resume and having an interview, that’s not something you have to do in the military very often, right? So tell me a little bit about, kind of what you’ve learned in transferring those skills and kind of how to communicate, because that is for any, career changer, I feel like there’s something they can learn from that. Kelly, do you want to start with this one?
Kelly: Sure. So it’s a lot, I guess it’s recognizing … I forget all the time that no one speaks the same language as me. So I can’t say like, “my husband’s going TDY and then he’s going to PCS” and everybody kind of looks to me like, “what are you talking about?” So there was kind of already like a natural ability to translate.
Kelly: I actually, and I don’t know if I’m answering your question right, but I actually made a Salesforce glossary and that’s kind of what I lived by at first. So anytime I didn’t know a word, I mean I guess you could Google it, but I just had it right there and I had broken it down into like my terms, what I understood.
Kelly: And then as far as transferring skills, I mean veterans and the military spouses are kind of really dope people. So like we have really good skills that transfer. Like we’re adaptable or agile-
Kelly: -we’re committed, we’re not afraid of new situations. That’s a big one. Change is a constant for us.
Kelly: So I think it wasn’t necessarily transferring those skills, but recognizing that those were positive attributes. Not a barrier. Absolutely. Yeah. On anything.
LaRon: I mean we pretty much are project managers. Like now that the world is all, [inaudible 00:14:04] project management focus, that’s all we do. From a private to the senior officer, we’re managing projects that are given to us at the last minute. “Do this today. I need it done by five. If you don’t have it done by five, you don’t go home.”
Kelly: And then we execute it perfectly.
LaRon: Guess what? We execute, we figure it out, we mastermind it, we find the resources and we get it done. So we have this can do spirit and no one is going to take that from you, right? You don’t really have the option. And when you, I started in the military at 17, when you develop as an adult at 17 and 18 and 21 and those are the skills that you’re using each and every day, you have no choice but to be super awesome. Right? And so that’s really it, right? And for each and every one of us. Some are more outspoken than others, but the basics of how we all operate in our can do spirit, we all have it.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, absolutely. I mean that it comes across. Yes. It comes across form every Vetforce member I meet. And I think for any career changer, understanding that what you have done in your previous career or careers is absolutely valuable to bringing to the Salesforce ecosystem. You know, just cause you’re switching lanes a little bit does not mean that all of that doesn’t, is not relevant. It’s very, very valuable and it will really actually help you get a leg up in terms of building that career in the Salesforce ecosystem. All right, so amazing. Thank you both for sharing what that, as we come to the last few minutes of our session here, I think you both know what time is, what time is it? Lighting round time. Okay, so we have some special lightning round questions today for the live podcast, which is pretty fun. All right, we’re gonna start with you LaRon. All right. What would be the title of your autobiography?
LaRon: The Journey is Real.
Gillian Bruce: I like it. I like it. It’s pretty good. Okay. Kelly, I’m going to switch it up on you, were going to do a this or that for you. Are you a movie at home person or movie in a theater person?
Kelly: Movie at home. I’m not paying to fall asleep.
Gillian Bruce: I agree with you. You can pause and take bathroom breaks. It’s great. Right? Yeah. Well. I also, at this point, I would love to open up, we have some amazing audience members here with us in this session. If anyone has a, maybe, we have time for maybe one question, so it better be really good.
Gillian Bruce: So if you have a question, come on up. We’ve got a microphone right here. Who’s, who’s a brave soul. Oh, we got silence. Okay, well I can just ask more lightning round questions. It can be a lightning round question too, by the way.
Gillian Bruce: All right, so another good lightning round question. I was, if you were at the keynote yesterday, we were all about getting ready to rock TDX. All right, Kelly, I want to know who’s your favorite rock band?
Kelly: My favorite rock band?
Gillian Bruce: Yeah.
Kelly: Favorite of all time. Nirvana.
Gillian Bruce: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: A little Nevermind.
Kelly: Maybe a little Aerosmith too.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, okay!
Kelly: That’s so hard. Yeah, Nirvana, final answer.
Gillian Bruce: Pretty good. Smells Like Teen Spirit?
Kelly: Absolutely. Yeah. Oh yeah.
LaRon: [inaudible 00:17:19]
Gillian Bruce: You have to say that you’re like legally obligated.
Kelly: But I genuinely like them.
Gillian Bruce: That’s good. LaRon, how about you? Do you have a favorite metal band or a rock band? No?
LaRon: No mam.
Gillian Bruce: A favorite band?
LaRon: Rock may have been just a little before my time.
Gillian Bruce: Rock is eternal.
LaRon: No. There was a favorite song, I had that I grew up really loving and I don’t know if it’s by a rock band, but it’s called More Than Words.
Kelly: Oh yeah that’s the Everly Brothers.
LaRon: So that was a song, it’s not a rock-
Gillian Bruce: Good thing Kelly’s here.
Speaker 5: -but I absolutely love that song. And if you played it today, I would sing even with a hoarse voice right now.
Gillian Bruce: I love it. Okay, well maybe we’ll have to make that happen in the hallway. Anyway, thank you so much ladies for joining us on the podcast. It’s been a pleasure to have you. Thank you for joining us in person.
LaRon: Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: And we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.
Gillian Bruce: So huge thanks again to both LaRon and Kelly for braving the stage with me at TrailheadDx for this live recording. It was really great to have them in person and to have all the listeners there in person If you were able to make it, thank you for joining us and if you tuned into the live stream, thank you for joining us that way as well.
Gillian Bruce: If you want to view this amazing podcast that we did in person and you can find it on our Facebook live channel. So you can kind of get a piece of the fun that way. But to recap some of the amazing conversation that we had in the second part of our live taping, it was a lot about interviewing and hiring.
Gillian Bruce: So first of all, I loved, you know, kind of what both LaRon and Kelly said about confidence. It’s very hard to go in, especially if this is your first interview with a, for an admin job to have confidence. But in order to gain that, doing some research, understanding what the company is about, especially looking at company values, are those values that match your own?
Gillian Bruce: What are their goals? Going in with that information is really going to help you with your confidence. Even if you feel like, “I don’t know all of the things on the platform,” which is okay. We talked about that a little bit in the last podcast was, it’s okay not to know everything, as long as you know how to get to the answers. Being resourceful. The next thing that we focused on was really talking about transferring your skills. Both LaRon and Kelly came from military backgrounds doing very kind of, different work and they were able to figure out how to transfer and frame those skills to well position them in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Gillian Bruce: So some of the things that they were able to really kind of focus on was the adaptability, the agility, the commitment, the fearlessness. Those are really strong attributes that made them successful in the military careers,, that have transferred really well into becoming a Salesforce admin and now a technology director in Kelly’s case.
Gillian Bruce: So think about the things that you’re doing in your current career, if you’re looking to switch or things that you’ve done with previous jobs, that really are attributes that will apply really well to this Salesforce ecosystem, you’ll be very surprised. I get a lot of questions, folks who are changing careers, you know, after 20 years in one industry, “hey, how do I get into the Salesforce ecosystem?” Well, don’t discount what you’ve done. You’ve got an incredibly valuable set of skills and experience from your existing career. So don’t hesitate to bring those on over and talk. Think about how you can frame those in a way that’s really going to help position you as someone who knows a lot and can add a lot of value to the Salesforce ecosystem. Also, one of the biggest messages from both Kelly and LaRon was don’t give up.
Gillian Bruce: This idea of being committed to really yourself, being committed to finding that next job, making that switch. If things were easy, they really wouldn’t be worth it. So use the resources that the Salesforce community has given you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and keep asking. Passing the Admin cert can be tough. Many people do not pass on their first time. LaRon talks about that, about how she didn’t pass her first time, but she went back immediately to take it again. So don’t get discouraged. You know, trying once, try again. You’re going to get there. As long as you put the work in and the dedication, you are going to make this work. So don’t get discouraged. Rely on your community groups and your contacts within both your personal life and professional life to help support you and push you along.
Gillian Bruce: If you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things we chatted about today on the podcast, we’ve got some great resources for you. First of all, you can check out Vetforce, which is an amazing program to help military community members get exposed to Salesforce, get trained up on the Salesforce platform, and then get connected with jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem.
Gillian Bruce: Even if you’re not a military community member, this is a great resource for employers, as you can see, hear, rather, military veterans and their spouses and military community have a lot of amazing skills to offer as a Salesforce admin or a Salesforce developer. Any role that you have at your company, there’s a lot of great skills that a vet can bring into your company to really help add value.
Gillian Bruce: We also talked about Blue Star Families, which is the organization that Kelly Babbs works for, so you can check them out. We’ve got the link in the show notes.
Gillian Bruce: If you want to learn more about maybe preparing for your admin certifications, great news. We’ve got a trail for that, so you can actually go on Trailhead and there’s an entire trail called Prepare for Your Salesforce Administrator Credentials. So that’ll help take you along the path and help you learn all the things to prepare for that certification. Certification is an amazing way to prove to employers that you know what you know, make you attractive, kind of get those Linkedin job offers coming through. It’s also a really great way to verify and get your confidence up yourself, right? Verify that you know what you know and getting that first certification is the biggest step, because then there’s so many more you can get, but getting that first one were really sets in an amazing direction and opened up some doors.
Gillian Bruce: If you want to learn more about being an awesome admin, make sure you go to admin.Salesforce.com where you can check out more blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts. Also, please make sure you subscribe to the podcast, so you can get it delivered directly to your platform or device of choice so you don’t miss a single episode. I actually have a huge call out. If you’ve got a podcast listening platform that you cannot find us on, I would love for you to let us know. We have made a very concerted effort to make sure that we get this podcast on all the platforms to enable all of you to access it easily and share it easily. So if there’s a podcast platform that you’re not finding our podcast on, please let us know.
Gillian Bruce: You can find us on Twitter @Salesforceadmns, no I. Our guests today, were LaRon Butler. You can find her on Twitter @Laronmarkets__c, fun Salesforce Twitter handle there. And Kelley Babbs, she’s @kBabbs77. That’s K, B A, B B s 77 and you can find myself at @GillianKBruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.