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    Salesforce Certifications: Necessity or Not?

    The dust has settled after our live webinar debate at the beginning of the month, where industry experts discussed perspectives on the topic: “Salesforce Certifications: Necessity or Not?”

    Jonathan White, a 16x Salesforce certified specialist, and Natalie Whiting, an experienced Change and Transformation Manager, were guest speakers on our webinar and brought a wealth of knowledge to explore how important Salesforce certifications actually are in today’s tech landscape.

    Do you believe that Salesforce certifications are essential for career advancement within the Salesforce ecosystem?

    Jonathan: “I think it  depends on the role that you’re going to be doing within that sector. If you’re working as an end user, then technically, you could argue that Salesforce certifications don’t really matter. If you’re going to go consultancy side, it becomes significantly more important. If you’re a technical resource, then it’s a good thing to have a certification. If you’re on the soft side of it, like Change Management, Sales Director, then technically certification is just part of what you need. If you’re going to join a Salesforce partner, like a consultancy, they’re judged on the amount of certifications they have in the sectors and the different cloud products, to then allow Salesforce to pass projects to them. So, if you’re thinking of moving into that career path, then certifications make sense.”

    Natalie: “I have been lucky enough for my career to progress in the Salesforce realm without any certifications. Every year for the last 10 years, I would say I’ve wanted to do the Salesforce certification. It’s been on my goals, but other priorities have taken over! It was more important to get the business and the users using the platform and using it effectively, rather than me getting my qualification. Had I wanted to progress and move into the admin side or become a developer on the tech side, then yes I would have gone for the certifications – but that has not been my career path. I would say if you were moving into the tech space, certifications would definitely help career progression.”

    How much weight do Salesforce certifications carry in your decision-making process when considering candidates for roles?

    Natalie: “I think it’s definitely role specific. Only a few months ago, I was in the position where I was recruiting for a Lead Admin, Administrator, and a BA. If I take each of those roles, I was looking at completely different things. So, when hiring the Admins, I was looking firstly at their experience and the longevity of their experience and then if they have the certifications to support the experience. I actually hired a BA who was a fantastic BA and she never worked with Salesforce but had worked with another CRM. I needed them to have the experience because then that was the core requirement, over certifications.”

    Jonathan: “So for me, the certifications do carry value because they give me a benchmark of their skill level. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good at doing it, I just know if they’ve got certain certifications, then they’re relevant for different cloud products, and they could fit in with the team. It gives me a benchmark of their knowledge. Despite this, the big bit I look for, as Natalie said, is the soft skills in somebody. So they can learn parts of the platform.”

    Are there any specific Salesforce certifications that you consider more valuable than others? Why?

    Jonathan: “I’ll cover this predominantly from a technical perspective, but for me, if somebody’s going into a Salesforce role, the admin is expected. It’s the benchmark it gives you – it gives you the overall of the platform and how things are configured. And then you get to specific certifications including Developer 1, Developer 2, Architectural Certifications, Claims Specific like Nonprofit, Financial Cloud or Marketing Cloud, so if you’re going to work on a specific platform focus on those.”

    “I also place emphasis on how long it has taken to get those certifications. So, have you just done six exams in a year’s period? If so, you’re just then capturing numbers. I’m always more interested in gradually completing exams across your career path as you have been expanding. If you don’t have a lot of experience, it could be that you are preparing for a specific project.”

    “If you want to be an architect or you want to be a developer, then choose specific certifications in that sector because they do add value to prove that that’s the area that you’ve got expertise in.”

    Natalie: “If you can do for certifications everyone’s looking for, the base one being the admin, something like CPQ will then give you a competitive edge. I agree with what Jonathan is saying – look at what you want to do, and what path and then see how far you can go with them.”

    Can practical experience substitute for or complement the knowledge gained through Salesforce Certifications?

    Natalie: “I think it definitely complements, but then there are a number of people like me, who I have worked with who don’t have the certifications and the experience did substitute. I used Salesforce when I was in sales, and that’s what got me my first role – to work on improving Salesforce for the telco that I worked for. So in some cases, yes, it can substitute but I’d say it’s more of a complementary thing. I do think a good company will develop their talent, they will invest in them, and they will help them get through their certifications if it’s just the experience that you’re coming with.”

    Jonathan: “So a certification yes will give you what you need to know. But the experience of being in that scenario, it’s not until you’ve dealt with these problems or ways to do certain things on the platform, that the certification comes into use too. For example, assert CTA certification, you design a solution, and then you have to defend that solution in front of six peers at that level, and they rip your solution apart. What they’re looking for is can you defend what you’ve put there, and justify what you’ve put there. And you can only get that from experience, you can’t get it from certification.”

    How do you see the landscape of Salesforce certifications evolving in the future, considering the rapid changes in technology and business needs?

    Jonathan: “I think with the big trend towards AI modeling, you’re going to see a lot more AI in the platform, and utilising chat prompts. I think you’re going to start seeing more AI certifications, they’re going to come out about different areas of the platform. I think the other thing you’ll start to see is they bought velocity which they’ve implemented that into a lot of their products, and they call it Salesforce Industries. There’ll also be a lot more software-based certifications.”

    Natalie: “I would agree it’s coming from the AI space, obviously, it’s very prominent. One of the things I did have a few conversations about prior to this was more prerequisites – a creation of a learning path. This would mean you could have a path to certifications to get you to a point rather than a free for all.

    “I’m going to be a big advocate for this because this is what I go on about all the time, but you can have the best Salesforce system, the best admins, the best Dev, most efficient, slickest automated Salesforce platform, but if your salespeople are in Excel, if you’ve got duplicate accounts across service, if their contact information is all in their phone, then your adoption is not right. I would like to see something around that adopting of Salesforce, supporting the business.”

    What advice would you give to someone considering pursuing Salesforce certifications, especially if they are unsure of their relevance or necessity?

    Natalie: “I’d think about the path that you’d like to take, I’d say think about the skills that you already have, and can they be utilised, there are definitely resources out there to help you decide what is going to be relevant for you what path you do want to take. So, if you think about the Salesforce community that the trailheads etc, you can just have a look and see if any of them are of interest.”

    “I think for me, there were alternative pathways, not just the certifications. So I think it is worth exploring that. I know we’ve touched on it before around trying to get that experience to see what you do and don’t like. We spoke about volunteering before, trying to build up your interest to see what is it that you wanted to do in that Salesforce space. And then I think the certifications would become relevant to you.”

    Jonathan: “So the first thing I would say is get experience, and you may ask well how can I do this? One of the simplest ways to get experience is going off here have skill set to charities, charities may not have a CRM in place, Salesforce will give you 10 Free licences for the nonprofit cloud, that that you can offer your time for free. And in return, you’re getting the experience of configuring the Salesforce platform. And you’re delivering value to that charity, because all of a sudden, you’re helping them to build donations. It’s a great way to get experience on Salesforce.”

    “There’s Trailhead communities, you can go in post questions, not answering people’s questions, or be exposed to people’s problems and how they’re solving them. Salesforce are very good at sort of having that family which organise Salesforce groups.”

    “The next thing is based on my journey, I would always recommend if you’re going to go down a Salesforce certification on a career path, I would personally start at an end user rather than going straight into consultancy. Because as an end user, you’re dealing with stakeholders, you become to know the product very, very well.”



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