So there I was, sitting in front of a computer. I had no wallet, no phone, no safety net. All I had was the keyboard and mouse in front of me and a pad of sterile white paper with a pencil. I was nervous. I had worked hard for years to avoid being in this position. What if I don't know what I think I know? Maybe I really wasn't good enough to be a Salesforce MVP. Maybe I've been faking it these last seven years of being a Salesforce Administrator/Developer. Finally, after taking a deep breath, I hit submit and found I had passed my Certified Administrator exam.
I started working in the Salesforce environment in 2007 as an extra add-on to my duties of being an Implementation Specialist for a company selling SAAS software. It wasn't long before being a Salesforce administrator was my entire job. Back then, I had time to play and experiment in Salesforce. It was a great way to learn how the platform worked. At the end of 2012, I had the honor of becoming a Salesforce MVP. I thought that my knowledge and work had been validated. I would even proudly say I got as far as I had without getting certified.
For seven years, I avoided the c-word (certified). I just didn't see the value in it. I knew what I already knew. I could show people how much I knew. Why should I go through a bunch of tests which I would then have to repeatedly keep up-to-date? I will readily admit I was feeling pretty smug about myself. I kept telling people that being certified didn't make you a better Admin...
Two jobs later, and I was proven so wrong. I was contemplating becoming a Salesforce Consultant, and was amazed at how many of my interviews included the question, “Are you certified?” This was followed by an awkward silence after I informed them that I was not. So despite my opinion of certification, I finally took the dive and became Admin and Developer certified in the span of a week.
It was then I realized something very important. Not only does certification validate that you have knowledge of the Salesforce platform, but it also forces you to keep up to date. Before I became a consultant, I had the time to read each page of every release documentation. I'm now a father with three young kids, and I'm a Vice President for a growing Salesforce Consultant company. I don't have time to “play” in Salesforce anymore. I now need those release exams to keep me current.
The maintenance exams force me to review each new release. Without my certification, I may have lapsed in my knowledge. Over many releases, the finely honed knife of my Salesforce mastery would have begun to dull and, eventually, it would have proved no longer be useful.
And when it comes to recruitment, my view on Salesforce certification has completely changed, too. While being certified is not a requirement in our own hiring process, I will ask different questions in an interview if a candidate does not hold a Salesforce credential. I'll spend more time asking basic Salesforce questions to test knowledge, meaning there's less time to discuss the actual qualifications and experience, which play a major role in my final decision.
The truth of the matter is, if you have the knowledge, there's no excuse to not get certified—especially when you have an employer willing to cover the costs. And in my view, every employer should cover certification costs. Having certified employees means you have validated your investment in their knowledge and can be assured they will keep up-to-date as the platform changes. A few hundred dollars a year is a small price to pay to have that level of confidence in your employees.
I, myself, have been Admin and Developer certified for almost three years. And now is the time for more. Certification has become my new method for brushing up on my older skills and learning new ones. I recently wrote out my continuing education plan for 2017. Part of that plan is to get four new certifications. I'm extremely happy to announce that in March, I passed my Platform Developer I exam and I just passed my Sales Cloud consultant exam the other day. So here's to becoming Pardot Consultant and Platform App Builder certified by year-end!
Salesforce Certified Administrator May 19, 2014
Salesforce Certified Force.com Developer June 2, 2014
Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I March 29, 2017
Salesforce Certified Sales Cloud Consultant April 5, 2017
If you’ve been inspired by Brian's story, learn more about how you, too, can become a Salesforce Certified Professional.