Yesterday, the media was awash with reports that skyscraper climber Alain Robert – dubbed the French Spiderman – scaled the Salesforce Tower. Forgoing the use of safety equipment, and apparently prior consent, Robert completed the ascent of the 662ft (202m) tower with no safety gear, no rope, and with bare hands.
Although not the first time Roberts has completed a death-defying feat – he has gained notoriety for high-profile ascents of the Eiffel Tower; the Empire State Building; the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong, among others – his climb of the Salesforce Tower, in particular, got me thinking.
Because, although those working in the Salesforce ecosystem aren’t going to scale a building anytime soon, as professionals you are constantly trying to climb a different challenge – namely, the metaphorical Salesforce career ladder.
Growing from Salesforce Admin and all the way through to Certified Technical Architect takes work and commitment, but it also takes having a few things in your arsenal. So, whilst Roberts may have chosen to forgo any safety equipment, I’ve drawn on my industry knowledge and on the advice of leaders in the Salesforce world and come up with six things that you’re definitely going to want to focus on in order to ensure that your climb is a success:
1. Certifications: Certifications prove to potential employers that you really do possess the skills that you’re claiming to have and show that you have invested time and effort in becoming the best in your field. And the proof is in the data; the average salary of a Salesforce expert with no certifications, and those with just one differ by an average of $17,000. Solution Architect @ BlueWolf, Gemma Emmett – who was also the winner of the Golden Hoodie at this year’s Salesforce World Tour, maintains that professionals should focus their efforts on their certifications. As she puts it:
Definitely get certified; once you’re certified you learn so much not only as you study but also as you practically apply what you have learnt
2. Find your niche: Making yourself an expert in a niche field will only increase your demand for work which, in turn, will enable you to scale the ladder of success much more quickly.
3. Be tech-minded: Having experience with a legacy system is all well and good, but what’s going to really make you stand out is having experience with the newer products that very few people have got to grips with yet. Having these skills under your belt early will ensure you are in-demand and can climb the ranks in a business quickly. As Timothy Gentet-O’Brien – Salesforce Technical Architect – put it in an interview with Third Republic:
Don’t assume you know everything because when it comes to Salesforce the ecosystem is growing so fast that I can assure you that you don’t.
4. Focus on the soft skills: No one’s going to turn around and say that technical skills are obsolete, but what we are going to say is that they’re certainly not the be all and end all of your careers. Salesforce is becoming increasingly easy to configure – 10 0r 20 years ago you needed code for anything, and now Salesforce has created clicks not code, and this is driving almost all the aspects of the system where you actually don’t need to be a developer. This means that, although it will be relatively complex, soft skills are becoming increasingly important. It’s not just me saying it; this is something that Ben McCarthy – founder of SalesforceBen.com and Managing Director @ EMPAUA – is adamant about:
100% soft skills are becoming more and more important because you need to be able to have emotional intelligence, and digest business needs, and do things outside of just working on the technical aspects of the system.
5. Brand yourself: Alan Roberts has found his place as the French Spiderman. I’m not saying you need to liken yourself to a Salesforce Superhero, but when it comes to making yourself a precious commodity and boosting your career in the world of Salesforce, personal branding is a must do. There’s a lot of ways you can do this; LinkedIn, Trailhead badges, training, your resume, and in interviews.
6. Don’t look down: I’m pretty sure Roberts kept himself focused on his goal whilst hanging off a 662ft building. Take this approach to your career; always look forward and for opportunities to evolve and grow. Look for new ways to challenge yourself in your current opportunities, and if that isn’t possible then look for the next jump.
What are your top tips for climbing the Salesforce ladder?