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I’ve been an active member of the Salesforce community in the Chicago area since 2006. During these years, I’ve met some amazing people who are passionate about Salesforce and always go that extra mile to help any community member. I’ve also been privileged to work for a variety of companies in a variety of roles—from being a Jr. System Administrator to implementing Sales Cloud for 3,500 users.

Through my entire career within the Salesforce ecosystem, I’ve always been grateful that Salesforce is very in-demand and that more organizations are realizing they need Salesforce-skilled people. In fact, it's reported that this demand is going to create 3.3 million jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem by 2020! Being contacted via phone, email or LinkedIn by companies over these years has given me a new perspective on what organizations can do to help find and retain Salesforce talent.

Many companies say that they cannot find the right talent to fill their open Salesforce roles, but with the Salesforce community growing exponentially every day, the right candidate is out there alreadyyou just need a few hints on how to find them! Based on my 12 years experience within the Salesforce ecosystem, here are my top 8 tips on how companies can better find and retain the skilled talent needed for Salesforce success.

 

1. Make your company more desirable

A high employee turnover can set off alarm bells within the Salesforce community. Be sure to get off on the right foot with candidates and foster an environment where top talent want to be contacted about opportunities at your organization.

If finding and retaining Salesforce talent is challenging for your business, think about the “why?”. Are there not enough team members for your user base? Are your expectations unrealistic for your Salesforce-skilled employees? Do the decision makers not fully understand the Salesforce product and so are unclear on what role they need to fill? 

Take a leaf from the Salesforce 1:1:1 model and work hard at building and maintaining a positive working environment. Ensure all stakeholders are clear on what Salesforce roles need to be filled and the job spec these roles cover. Then be sure to shout out about all the great ways you are focusing on a positive company culture. Start a blog about your key values or post a video on your career site, in fact, develop a career site detailing why top talent should be looking for opportunities at your company.

 

2. Understand the different Salesforce skill sets

Individuals with Salesforce experience offer a wide range of skills. Some of the more common skill sets are:

In my experience, System Administrator and Business Analyst skills complement each other. Throughout my career, I've worked very closely with business users who are looking to enhance how they're currently using Salesforce. Once I had a good understanding of the requirements, I would work on configuring those changes in Salesforce.

When you are looking to bring on new Salesforce talent, the most important question to answer is; “What will this resource be responsible for?” This will help you determine if you are able to find one resource or if you need to bring in multiple resources with different skill sets.

 

3. Accept that Salesforce specialities are not always interchangeable

Throughout my entire Salesforce career, my responsibilities have been pretty evenly split. I would be responsible for working with the business to gather requirements on new projects, and then need work on configuring Salesforce based on those requirements. 

Organizations may not be fully aware of how unique many Salesforce specialities are. As a System Administrator and Business Analyst working with the Salesforce platform, I've learned when an enhancement could be done declaratively, using an AppExchange product, or custom code. For anything that would need custom code, I would work closely with a developer (either internally or via a Salesforce preferred partner) on the enhancement. 

Don't assume that one Salesforce resource will just “do it all”. Having a better understanding of what you need vs the Salesforce roles and specialisations out there will better help you determine what type of resource is required or if more that one resource is needed.

 

4. Ensure Salesforce is on your long-term roadmap

Salesforce offers a wide variety of solutions to fit the needs of any organization, and companies using Salesforce want to be sure that they are getting the most out of their investment. Be open to all the opportunities Salesforce has to offer. And optimize the capabilities of the platform by bringing onboard talent who have had proven success in implementation, training and long-term Salesforce enhancementsthis will be your golden ticket. 

But more than that, be sure to fully utilize these resources to work with all areas of your business; those that are currently using Salesforce and those that are looking to get on board with Salesforce. Not only will this allow your business to experience the unlimited potential that Salesforce offers but it will also help you attract awesome talent. It shows potential candidates that they will be plugged into relevant departments, not siloed. And proves that your company is as invested in fostering innovation as it is in using tech to positively reshape your business.

 

5. Balance your Salesforce certification and experience expectations

I currently hold four Salesforce certifications and my goal is to continue to earn as many as I possibly can. For me, being Salesforce certified is a privilege that I work very hard to obtain and to maintain.

When looking at talent, it is important to not only look at the certifications the person holds, but also their overall experience with Salesforce. I've worked with many people who are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about Salesforce, but they have not had the opportunity to pursue a certification. A person's Trailhead profile is a great place to start as it showcases skills, hands-on experience and illustrates a candidates commitment to ongoing learning. 

Another way to attract top talent to build out their certification portfolio is to offer an incentive for achievement, or support, such as paying for the exam and/or allowing time away from the office to study. Compensation can also be tied to attaining certifications. 

 

6. Allow your talent to grow their Salesforce skills

Salesforce has evolved immensely over the years. In my 12 years working within the Salesforce ecosystem, I've seen amazing new features developed and watched how Salesforce has added new products that benefit all types of organization.

I've always admired companies that see the value in Salesforce and encourage their talent to explore new features or products that would be beneficial to the business. Here are some ways to enable your talent to grow their Salesforce skills:

  • Embrace the gamification of learning through Trailhead, and more specifically by installing Trail Tracker in your org to assign learning topics/badges and track your employees' progress. This will introduce a healthy dose of competition, and allow you to track badges earned and see who's ranking-up supported by leaderboards and maybe even prizes. You can then tie these achievements to KPI goals.
  • Encourage active participation in the Trailblazer Community where your talent can connect with other Salesforce customers, partners, product specialists and employees to learn, get answers to questions and share new ideas.
  • Promote attendance, or even leadership of, a local Salesforce user group for face-to-face collaboration with other Salesforce professionals.
  • Offer lunch and learn sessions for teams to share their Salesforce learnings and insights across functions.
  • Sponsor group training—you can even have the experts come onsite and offer a customized private workshop to get everyone on the same page and up-to-speed quickly.

 

7. Research the average salary range in your local area

As Salesforce continues to rise in popularity, so does the average annual salary for skilled Salesforce workers. Once you've identified the type of position(s) you are looking to fill, spend some time researching what the average salary for your area is, based on skill set, years of experience and certifications.

There are many great resources to help with that. The Trailhead career path site has lots of specific information. The “Salesforce Skills are a Platform to Better Jobs” report from Burning Glass Technologies, is also an interesting read. Or your Salesforce account executive can provide you with salary ranges based on title and skill set. There are also many top Salesforce partners who have surveyed companies and Salesforce users from all over the world to determine the average salary for many large, metropolitan areas. 

If you are constrained by a limited budget, go back and reevaluate the type of talent you are looking for. You may find that a Jr. Administrator would be able to fulfill your immediate requirements. And there are benefits to hiring someone more junior too. Not only do you get to train them on your specific business practices, you could also be opening the door of opportunity for someone to kick-start their career! 

 

8. Offer additional perks beyond a salary

Not that working with Salesforce and learning new Salesforce skills is not reward enough, many organizations also offer some really cool perks to attract and retain top talent. Talking with many people in the Salesforce community over the years, I've heard some amazing things that organizations offer. My favorites?

  • Remote working (well, not all top talent is based in the same place right?)
  • Flex hours for a better work/life balance
  • Gym membership and other ways to encourage employees to stay fit and active
  • Time off for volunteer work
  • Bring your children and pets to work days (on different days obviously)
  • Access to company-owned holiday apartments
  • Reimbursement for training courses and certification exam fees

My biggest piece of advice is to be flexible. Think beyond the standard 9 to 5. Think beyond the classic admin or developer “norm”. Think outside of the box (or at least outside of the conventional office). And especially think about how your company is perceived within the Salesforce ecosystem. Only then will you see a change, when top Salesforce talent will want to come and work for you. And, after all, isn't that what we're all striving for?

Anthony Lullo is a Salesforce Business Analyst/System Administrator for Sherwin Williams in Chicago, IL. He's been an active member of the Chicago Salesforce Community since 2006 and is currently 4x Salesforce certified.
Outside of work, he enjoys traveling and exploring new destinations, going to the gym, reading and spending time with family and friends.