Starting your Development Career with Salesforce

A short while ago I wrote a post about how I ended up becoming a Salesforce developer, which was pretty much by accident.

I wasn’t a Salesforce developer, but I was a developer of 20+ years standing, with professional experience of programming languages such as Pascal(!), Coral66, C, C++ and Java, plus a fair bit of web development with HTML, CSS JavaScript and applets/servlets/JSP. This meant that I didn’t have too much trouble landing the original job, even if the direction I ended up taking came as a bit of a surprise.

Getting a job as a Salesforce developer is a touch more tricky when its your first (either your first job, or your first development job). Without experience, many companies are loathe to take a risk, usually preferring to take on graduates with a Computer Science or equivalent qualification.

I screen most of the technical people that come and work for , so while I haven’t been in the exact situation, I do know what sort of thing I look for and what sort of thing I’ve seen work well from other members of the Salesforce community. The following are my tips for success — your mileage may vary (even if it’s me that is interviewing you after you’ve followed my advice)!

Be realistic

You may have heard that competition for Salesforce talent is intense, but that’s people with experience in Salesforce and the target industry (more often than not consulting) who can hit the ground running. Someone that needs to be trained up in development, Salesforce or both isn’t going to be able to command a large salary and senior position. However, as qualified, experienced staff are not in abundance, there’s usually opportunity to progress quickly. It’s easier to farm than to hunt!

Research your target

If you get an interview with a company, spend some time looking into what they do. Every company has a web site and most have multiple social media channels, so if you turn up and don’t know what they do, it doesn’t exactly scream that you want to work for them.

Learn Salesforce

There’s absolutely no excuse for not knowing at least the basics of Salesforce if you are going after a job using it. Developer Editions are free and don’t expire, there’s a vibrant community of experienced developers out there who are willing to help, and there’s Trailhead.

With around 170 badges, you can dig into any area of Salesforce that your target company uses, or pretty much anything Salesforce related that you can think of.

Raise your profile

Developer groups are a great way to build up your Salesforce knowledge and make valuable connections who can help with your career. There are over 180 developer groups around the world, so the chances are there’ll be one you can get involved with.

You can also get your name out there with blogs, social media posts, or contribute to the Salesforce success community/developer forums.

Build your own application

Earning Trailhead badges is all well and good, but it’s a pretty guided experience. You’ve shown that you can follow instructions and provide solutions with existing code and clear guidelines, but if you build your own application, you show that you can create something from scratch. This is something that always impresses me, and goes a long way towards making up for a lack of professional experience, as it means that you are enthusiastic about the Salesforce platform.

With your own application you can take control of a portion of the interview, explain the problem you are trying to solve, the architecture that you chose, what went well and what went not so well, and what you’d do differently if you do it again.

I get to see how well you can communicate and demonstrate a solution without having to think of a bunch of questions, and anything that makes my life easier goes down well!

Volunteer with a non-profit

Non-profits get 10 Salesforce licenses free, but a lot of the smaller ones aren’t utilising their licenses anything like as much as they could be, usually because they are spending all their time on their cause rather than administering their applications.

What they probably won’t want is someone using their instance as a training ground to find out what this Salesforce they’ve heard so much about is like, so you’d still need to go through the learning process and get some Trailhead badges behind you. The quid pro quo is that you would get some experience in return for providing your expertise for free, so you need to make sure your expertise is worth having!

I’d see this as something you’d do if you were getting to interview stage, but lack of experience in a business environment was holding you back.

I’m better known in the Salesforce community as Bob Buzzard — Umpteen Certifications, including Technical Architect, 5 x MVP and CTO of BrightGen, a Platinum Cloud Alliance Partner in the United Kingdom who are hiring.

You can find my (usually) more technical thoughts at the

CTO at BrightGen, author Visualforce Development Cookbook, multi Salesforce Developer MVP. Salesforce Certified Technical Architect. I am the one who codes.

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