I was furloughed from my software training and implementation job in April 2020 due to COVID induced reductions in force. It does not look like I will return. However, despite my furlough AND double-digit unemployment numbers, I've never been more excited about my career prospects.
I'm excited because I found Salesforce. I believe demand for knowledgeable Salesforce Administrators, Developers, and Consultants will continue to grow despite the carnage the pandemic has done and will continue to do to our economy. This demand will allow those who dive into this type of work to make lots of money and gain a fulfilling career.
The below article explains my optimism and why I'm all-in on Salesforce.
SFDC Jobs Pay Really Well
I graduated from college during the 2008-09 recession. This sucked. 10% unemployment is a terrible time to have nothing but a piece of paper and limited work experience. I feel for those who are graduating now. 15% unemployment AND a freaking pandemic is a real kick in the teeth. The two years of post-college un or underemployment was traumatizing. I felt helpless to change my situation. I still feel slightly handicapped by the poor start. It took me almost a decade to achieve the $50k annual salary I’d hoped to be making when I graduated. Yet, while on furlough, watching entire industries and ways of life crumbing away due to COVID, I’m excited to see a real opportunity for me (you, recent grads…) to make a high income.
Here’s why I feel that way.
- Growth in SaaS due to the pandemic. Businesses now realize that they need a way to continue to operate when offices are closed. If you have a functioning SF org, there is not much your company couldn’t do remotely. Especially with their most important departments: sales, marketing, and support.
- General growth in SaaS due to efficiencies. The company I’m currently working for has a SaaS and a legacy download it to your server and maintain it yourself type software. The legacy software has more features and is less expensive than the SaaS. Current customers already know how to use the legacy tool. Yet, every month multiple companies switch over to the limited, more expensive SaaS because they no longer want to maintain the servers the old software runs on. They also like that new features get added automatically and they don’t have to worry about losing data if a server goes down. Salesforce really hit the nail on the head in 1999 when they started their No Software campaign. Software is a pain. SaaS is easy.
- Growth of Salesforce due to its power and flexibility. Salesforce can do a ton out of the box. The support and the sales portions are impressive (less sold on the marketing side; Pardot is a bit rough around the edges). It’s easy to set up employee dashboards that give sales and support teams access to leads, opportunities, knowledge articles, next action activities, and more. Then layer on all of the sexy reports and dashboards you can make, it seems like SFDC would be any CEO's favorite decision making tool. But, wait. There's more! The system is open to customizations and offers tons of client-facing options like community portals where customers can access general (how do I do this thing?) or personal (what’s the status of my order?) information.
- The growth multiplier in the Salesforce ecosystem. In 2019, Salesforce had about 42,000 direct employees. However, the broader Salesforce ecosystem of developers, consultants, marketers, analysts, implementation experts, and technical support consists of millions more. Salesforce is like the coral reef that provides a habitat for much more life. The company estimates for every $1 of revenue they bring in, $4 to $5 of revenue is generated in this broader eco-system. So if you think Salesforce will continue to bring in more customers while retaining its current market share, it’s a very good bet there will be work for Salesforce experts in the coming years. A 2019 SFDC sponsored white paper estimated 4.2 million new jobs (~1 million of those in the US) worldwide will be created from the beginning of 2019 to the end of 2024 [source]. Will those numbers be reduced due to COVID? Probably. But by how much? Let’s say Salesforce only reaches 50% of their projected growth numbers. That’s 100,000 new jobs in the US each year. I think I can hustle enough to get one of them.
With the relatively high current and future demand for these types of SFDC service roles, what does the pay look like? Really freaking good!
Mason Frank, a Salesforce recruiting firm, does an annual salary survey at the Dreamforce conference. This was the 2019 results:
- Admin: $105k
- Business Analyst: $115k
- SF Consultant: $120k
- Project Manager: $117k
Do I think the survey data skews towards higher-income workers that can afford a $2,299 ticket + fight + booking a room in San Francisco when 170,000 other attendees are also looking for accommodations? Absolutely. Do people in the above SFDC roles have other responsibilities that justify the high pay? You bet. Do I expect to make those kind of numbers at my first job? No. I’m hoping to make between $55k - $65k at my first Admin job. Do I think six figures is attainable within 3 years? Yes. With hard work, networking, and continuous skill building, I do think I can get there.
That’s my first reason for going all-in on Salesforce. I like money. I’d to make up for my low paying 'lost decade' and be able to buy a house before I’m 40. It looks like demand for Salesforce expertise is high and growing. With the high demand, I believe high pay is likely to follow. The second reason I’m optimistic about working for SFDC, the career path(s) look fulfilling.
SFDC Offers Fulfilling Work
When I was in the depths of my post-university work lull, I read a book by Cal Newport called “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in The Quest for Work You Love.” The question at the heart of this book is, “How do people end up loving what they do for a living?” Cal's research found that it wasn’t an innate passion for the work that made them love what they did, it was the traits of the work itself. The fulfilling job traits are:
- creativity: ability to improvise your work and implement your ideas
- control: say over how, when, and where your work gets done
- impact: your work has a positive influence on others
SFDC jobs offer those traits almost out of the box. If you’re an Admin at a company, people will make a request for a report or workflow. They know what they want, but it’s up to you and your creativity to make it happen in the org. After you creatively generate the report, the sales manager is pumped. You’ve had an impact. As you get better at your job you’ll have more sway at the company and control over how the org is designed.
Out of the box creativity, control, and impact is good news, but Salesforce took it further. They seemed to have designed a world built to internally motivate those who are in it. That internal motivation makes it easier to grow your skills and become even more valuable. The more valuable you are, the more control and money you can ask for.
This brings me to another book. “Drive” by Daniel Pink. Drive gives a formula for situations that juice up your internal motivation. The variables are:
- autonomy: the desire to be self-directed
- mastery: the urge to get better skills
- purpose: the desire to do something that has meaning and is important
Notice an overlap? Autonomy is another word for control. Purpose is also highly correlated with impact. The extra bit of sauce in this internal motivation soup is mastery. Below are a few ways I’ve seen SFDC create opportunities for mastery.
Ways To Pursue Mastery Through SFDC
- Follow numerous overlapping career paths [Click here for a more detailed career path resource.]
- Aquire skills via Trailhead.
- Speak at user groups.
- Create helpful written or video content.
- Study industry specific knowledge like manufacturing or finance.
- Add ancillary skills like: Business Analysis, Project Management, Data Management, Reporting, Data Analysis, Documentation/Knowledge Management, Sales Process, Programming (SQL, SAQL, Python, Java, Visual Force)
- Answer help questions in the Success community.
- Addend or speak at conferences.
- Easy To Connect To Other SF Users Via: Local User Groups, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube.
- Work with non-profits.
- Possibility to design systems that make people’s lives easier.
- Pro bono work.**
SFDC is like a choose your own adventure book or an RPG game where you can gain character strength and pick up new tools that give you special powers. Trailhead adds to that feeling by gamifying the hell out of skill building with points, badges, super badges, and certifications.
My initial impression of SFDC has me excited about the possibilities to earn more and grow a meaningful career. Am I being overly optimistic? Likely. I do that. If someone with 2 or 3 years of experience wants to come in here and splash some cold water on my face, I’m open to it. I'm @zwsexton on Twitter. Do I ask too many hypothetical questions when, I write? Definitely. But I’m feeling hopeful in a time where there is a lot to be down about. I thought I’d take a few minutes away from Trailhead to share my feelings. Maybe it will spark a few others to jump in with me.
If you do, I’d recommend joining the Learning Salesforce and Building your Talent Stack Facebook group. It’s where I found my Admin Cert study partners Brooke and Paolo. It’s supportive, free, and full of smart people also going all-in on SFDC. Here's an podcast interview with the guy that runs the Learning Salesforce group if you’d like to hear about his career path.
TL;DR Demand for knowledgeable Salesforce Administrators, Developers, and Consultants will continue to grow despite the massive hit to the economy the pandemic is causing. The growing demand for Salesforce expertise will allow those who dive into this career to make lots of money AND gain a fulfilling career.
* The pro bono work will be especially nice when it's time to start wrapping up your career. The option to maintain a bit of work-based purpose/meaning after retirement by donating your expertise to non-profits or schools that need your help is a subtle, but important, benefit. I say this because finding work-based meaning is something my dad is struggling with at the moment. He held a position that is more all in or all out (hospital CEO), so meaningful volunteer work that use his skills is proving difficult for him to come by in his retirement.
Originally posted May 26, 2020 in /r/salesforce.