How I Landed My Dream Job As A Salesforce Solution Architect/Developer

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The sole intention behind this post is to share my whole experience before, during and after the job interview process that I recently went through in the past couple of months and I sincerely hope that someone out there can benefit from it. It was enlightening, a little taxing and for sure a huge confidence booster (probably because I got the job and hope everybody does).  The complete process made me cognizant of a lot of small yet decisive components; things that I hadn’t utilized before during my first job search and wish I really had. There were a lot of elements that contributed to my success and I will elaborate on each one of them in the following paragraphs.

I was handling two different job profiles at the previous company and as much as I enjoyed it, I gradually began to lean more by the day towards Salesforce development. Working on Salesforce related tasks had always been a side gig for me; something that I voluntarily worked on and didn’t get paid for. I simply loved working on the Salesforce platform. I went to my first Dreamforce last year (2014), attended David Liu’s session ( and a couple of others) and from that very moment, I knew that I had to make an exit from dabbling between two jobs and move into a full fledged Salesforce oriented role. Moreover, I got the opportunity to have highly informative conversations with experienced folks out there on how to dream up a career strategy for a Salesforce role. I came back all invigorated and super energized. I decided to devise an action plan and give myself at least 6-8 months to further hone my skills before I started applying for a job. I believe it worked quite well since I ended up getting four job offers out of the five companies that I had applied to. I will list the most indispensable parts of the process( for me) in a chronological order and hope that you will be able to utilize at least a few of them in your favor:

    1. Dreamforce and David Liu

      Going to DF 14’ was a game changer for me. The various sessions that I attended (most importantly David’s)  and people who I got to interact with were the stimuli that I needed to activate that ‘get-out-of-your-comfort-zone’ person in me.  I wasn’t very confident about my Salesforce skill level back then but on my way back from DF, I told myself probably a thousand times that I need to be a Salesforce expert in the next few months. I went through David’s blog, religiously practiced all code snippets in a developer org and created a line of action for grabbing the five coveted certifications.
    2. The Salesforce Certifications

      Without making this ‘too long to read’, I would rather link you to my success story on David’s site and my first ever blog post here. I was able to get them all within six weeks and firmly believe that anyone can do it! Having all the five certification logos on my resume was undeniably the most influential factor in the screening process for me. To further stress upon the paramountcy of my claim, I must tell you that I got approached by almost 10-15 technical recruiters with a message on the lines of ‘You have an impressive profile and we are certainly looking for someone with most of those certifications…’ and that is exactly why I highly recommend having them on your resume or on your LinkedIn profile. And keeping aside their integral role in the job screening process, I definitely learnt a lot ( a hell lot) when studying for each of the certification exams.
    3. Success Community

      Learning so much from a plethora of online resources, certification exam preparation and the awesome people around me was enough to give me the confidence boost that I needed in order to start helping people in the community, most importantly with accurate answers. And what could have possibly been better than the Answers forum on the success community. As of today, with over 3000+ answers on the success community, the feeling of being able to help tons of folks on a daily basis is incredibly amazing. And hey, I can confidently attribute at least 20-30% of my learning to the success community since this very medium provided me with the opportunity to vicariously look into multiple orgs and deal with numerous diverse scenarios without ever being in a consulting role!
    4. The Awesome People

      Deepak Anand: For indulging in multiple brainstorming sessions almost everyday during the 30-45 days of the interview process.
      John Szurley: For sharing his expertise with me and being there for every interview related question of mine.
      Jackie Travieso: For being the guiding light, teaching me the nitty-gritty of the interview process and last but not the least, helping me negotiate the offers!
      Sharif Shaalan: For promptly responding to my questions and any help that I needed during the process.
      My Wife: For understanding how much I wanted a job, not complaining even once for spending countless hours after work and during weekends, and driving me to the onsite interview locations in NYC multiple times and waiting while I got myself grilled.

    5. The Preparation

      Since I was venturing into the job market after a long period of 4+ years and this was my first ever job switch, I had foreseen the first couple of interviews to be harder than expected. I thought of them being more of a practice run and a learning exercise than a ‘I must get this job’’ process. I updated my LinkedIn profile, revamped my resume, began applying for various Salesforce roles and waited in sweet anticipation of the recruiters approaching me. By the end of first week, I had interviews scheduled with 3 firms which bumped up to 7 by the week after. It was time to step up my game and be prepared for the worst possible (I can be a pessimist at times). This is what my preparation looked like:

      • I organized all my notes and interview material into folders, both soft copies and hard copies. I kept on adding to the documents whenever I learnt something new during an interview. I used these notes from Day 1 until the final day of the interviews and I don’t think I could have managed without these.

        My treasured interview notes
        My treasured interview notes

        Organized Note Folders on PC
        Organized Note Folders on PC
      • My 60 second elevator speech, also known as the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question,  took me a day to prepare and it was an absolutely worthwhile effort. I included everything that I had accomplished in the last few years and how I improved processes at the previous organization. Make sure you include actual statistics like percentages and numbers (For example: I automated almost 80% of our manual processes using tools like Process Builder and Visual Workflows to improve productivity) in your speech to make it more persuasive and memorable. Interviewers love that.
      • I prepared a list of ‘most commonly asked’ questions, by using questions asked during the actual interviews and by browsing popular career blogs. I spent almost a day or two preparing answers for the most frequently asked behavioral questions because trust me, most of the situations that you faced in the last few years most likely won’t strike you during the interview when there’s tons of random stuff already running through your brain. Same goes for technical questions and an immensely comprehensive list of such questions can be found on David’s site.
      • I jotted down the three biggest implementation projects that I had worked on and included every minute detail in the write-up to ensure that I didn’t forget any of it during the interview.
      • I went through Trailhead to make sure that I got the basics covered. Even though I assumed that I was an expert in certain areas of the Salesforce CRM, I always managed to learn a new thing or two when doing the Trails, be it a beginner or intermediate or advanced trail.
      • I thoroughly researched each prospective employer before the interview and made sure that I knew everything about what they did, how big they were, their products, the leadership and a lot more. I made notes for these as well. I did a company specific interview preparation for every company that I interviewed with.
      • And last but not the least, I ensured that I was meticulously well versed with each and every detail on my resume and wasn’t caught off-guard by anything that I hadn’t looked at in the past few years.

By the end of the interview process, I had 210 pages of printed material that I had customarily skimmed through before every interview. I had an estimated 50-60% of my later interviews figured out after taking the first few  in terms of questions being asked and the employer’s expectations of me. All of this printed material is my treasured invaluable possession that I would most probably be needing again, if I ever look for a job in the future. Thanks to the above ingredients in my line of action because of which I had four different job offers to choose from. I went with the one that most closely fulfilled my expectations of the dream job that I had been craving to find all this time. I withdrew my application for four other ongoing interviews. Based on my experience, here are the key takeaways that you could and should utilize for your dream job search:

  1. If you are new to the Salesforce job market, find a mentor or other experienced/knowledgeable folks who can offer their expert advice and assist you during the process.
  2. Set a deadline, promise yourself that you will find a job within a particular timeframe and get started with preparing a line of action.
  3. Make notes for everything new that you learn and deem worth remembering. Store and organize them in order to make your life easier when the interview process begins.
  4. Get the certifications! It will help you get shortlisted among a plentiful of other candidates applying for the same job and also boost your confidence to a great extent.
  5. If possible, spend at least 15-30 minutes on the Success Community or Salesforce Stack Exchange everyday depending upon your desired career path (administrator or developer). I can promise that you will learn something new either from researching answers that you want to post or via someone else’s answers. If you can make it to the top 15, even better since you get that needed exposure and recognition which will be extra beneficial during the interview process.
  6. And finally, give it your best , be confident of your skills and do not stress too much about getting the job. You will be a crackerjack once you have appeared for one to two interviews! During those times of anxiety and unwanted nervousness, I used to tell myself ‘Hey, I am here to display my approach towards solving complex problems and providing the best solutions, nothing more, nothing less. If these guys don’t hire me, someone else will’. And as lame as it may sound, it did help. If you aren’t able to get through an interview, do not be disheartened or baffled and continue your quest by getting even more awesome and experienced at this process. I couldn’t get across the first stage of my first interview back in July 2015 but there was no looking back and I would encourage you to not feel daunted either. Ever!

Salesforce job market has seen a big boom in the last few years and will hopefully continue to flourish even further in the future. Now is a good time to embark on your job preparation/search journey and grab that Salesforce role which you have always longed for. Also, please feel free to contact me for any job related questions or help and I will be glad to assist in any way possible. Believe in yourself, give it all you can and I really hope that you are a success story in-waiting!

Good luck with your goals and stay tuned for another post focusing on preparing for a Salesforce developer interview.