Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How I Got My Yes and Fulfilled My Dream of Becoming a Salesforce Administrator!

Since I posted my blog post last month on “All it takes is one yes”, the most common question I’ve gotten is how I went about getting my yes and how I was able to really make the jump from secretary to full-time Salesforce Administrator.  In honor of Administrative Professionals Day I thought today would be a great day to share this story.

When I had made the decision that I was ready to move-on from my company the first thing I did was get a resume ready.  I spent most of a weekend working on it.  I spent a Saturday afternoon in the Library reading books on Resume and Cover Letter writing.  I took out two books from the library that I thought would be useful guides for me.  I spent about 2-3 hours writing up my Resume and Cover Letter.  Once I had these written up I posted them on Monster and Careerbuilder.  I was sure I had a good resume and cover letter and that someone would contact me.  About two weeks had gone by and no real bites.  I had also applied to a few jobs on both sites with very little to no response back.  It was very frustrating.

I decided to reach out to a few friends from the NYC Salesforce User Group and send them my resume to see what they thought.  One of my friends got back to me and told me that I wasn’t highlighting my Salesforce Experience enough.  The way my resume was set up was that I had an objective then talked about my work experience under each job I had.  Listed in two bullet points under my secretarial role that I was doing Salesforce Administration and explaining what I had done.  

My friend sent me a copy of his resume and the first thing I noticed at the top was under the objective there was a skills section listing out in three columns his experience.  Each column was for a different overall skill set and then listing out the specifics.  Underneath that there was a list of different project accomplishments relating to both Salesforce and a few other systems he had worked on.  Then underneath that was his overall job experience where he listed his title, company worked for and duration of the position.  All of the meat and potatoes was as at the top of the resume.  I really liked this format and I knew this format could call out my specific Salesforce skill sets without hiding them underneath a secretary title.  I spent another weekend updating my resume to look like my friend’s resume.  It was definitely time well spent.  

That weekend I updated my resume on both monster and careerbuilder and applied to some open positions.  My friend’s suggestions worked!  That week I heard back from two of the companies I applied with and got a few calls from recruiters about open positions.  I had two interviews setup!  Hooray!

I would love to tell you that one of those two interviews lead to a job, but they didn’t.  I completely bombed my first interview.  I was no nervous.  The person interviewing me was asking me extremely technical questions that I didn’t even understand.  When I didn’t understand what he was talking about I would like down and say “no I don’t know how to do that, or no I’ve never seen that or dealt with that.”  The person interviewing me told me to get a few more years of experience under my belt and then reach out to him.  I felt like a complete failure.  I started to second-guess myself and wonder if I was ready to move into a full-time Salesforce Admin role.  I decided that I would go for the next interview a few days later and see how that went.

The second company I interviewed with went a lot better.  The role was for a salesforce administrator but instead of reporting into technology the role was reporting into sales operations.  I understood all of the questions being asked and was able to respond to all of them.  The person interviewing me told me that she really liked me and was going to set up a second interview for me with her boss and two of her colleagues.   The second interview I had went great as well.  I was able to answer questions and even call on my own Salesforce experience when they were talking about some of the challenges they were having.  After following up a few times after my interviews the hiring manager told me they put the position on hold.  She did tell me that if they hadn’t put the position on hold that I would have been their first choice.  That made me feel really good and helped me to keep going.

I went through another round of applying for jobs on every job site I could possibly find.  I also started applying for all Salesforce Admin jobs.  Even if they said they wanted five years of experience I applied anyway.  I decided it was better to get my resume out there even if I didn’t fit their qualifications exactly.  That was one of the best decisions I ever made.  I got more interviews this way.  Let’s face it, in 2005, Salesforce had only been around for six years so not many people had five years of Salesforce experience.  

It was coming towards the end of the Summer and I was still interviewing and applying for jobs.  I had interviewed with about 8 different companies and no offer yet.  I learned something new during each interview, something that would make me better for my next.  I learned how to answer questions better so I became more confident.  I learned that it was ok to say “no I haven’t dealt with that situation exactly, but I know I can learn.”  I was searching one evening on Monster when I saw a job for a Field Operations Manager/Salesforce Administrator for a start-up company in the NYC suburbs.  They were looking for someone with 1-2 years of work experience and 1-2 years of Salesforce experience.  I applied for the job.

A few days after I applied for the position at the start-up I got a call from their operations manager. He wanted to bring me in the following week for an interview.  That weekend, I was at a family barbeque telling my family of my upcoming interview and my Mom told me she had a really good feeling about this one.  I did too.  A friend of the family gave me some advice, she told me to walk in there like I owned the place, like the job was already mine.  I decided to do just that.  I was going to be confident, poised and knowledgeable on this interview.  I decided that I was going to ask them what their biggest Salesforce challenge was and see if I could solve it for them.  

During the interview I was able to answer all of their questions and at the conclusion of the interview the operations manager asked me if I had any questions.  I decided to go for it.  I asked “What’s your biggest challenge with Salesforce?”  

He looked at me and I think was a bit taken back by my question.  He turned the computer screen around on his desk and showed me the Administrator profile.  They had 50 users and 28 were administrators because they couldn’t figure out why when they moved a user into a service role and profile they could no longer see accounts owned by sales managers.  He then showed me his dashboard which had all of these error messages on it where reports weren’t rendering.  He also told me that because there were so many system admins that they had duplicate fields, duplicate (similar) picklist values and a big giant mess.  Essentially they had Salesforce for just over a year but the person who started the project of implementing it had moved on before they could finish so they had a lot of stuff that wasn’t working, people had too much access and they weren’t really sure what it could do.  

I spoke to him briefly about his first issue with visibility, I explained org wide defaults for objects, sharing, roles and profiles.  He seemed to get it.  Unfortunately he had another meeting but he told me he did want to continue the conversation and bring me in for a second interview with his boss, the COO and a few others the following week.

Instead of sending a generic thank you for interviewing me email, I decided to send a plan over on how he could fix his Salesforce org and some things he could do right away to move people out of the admin role and eliminate so much risk.  I also offered to take a day off from my current job and work with them so they could “try me out.”

The next day the Operations Manager called me.  He couldn’t believe that I sent him everything I sent him in just a few hours after our meeting.  He took me up on bringing me in the following week.  I took a personal day from my current secretarial job and arrived at what I knew would be my next employer ready to get started on fixing their Salesforce org.

I spent a good part of the morning fixing their role hierarchy, creating sharing rules and moving users out of the administrator profile.  By noon I had moved over 20 people out of the Administrator profile and you know what they didn’t even notice because they were able to see the correct Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities.   After lunch I spent the remainder of the day fixing reports and dashboards so they would run correctly.  I also added some more charts to the dashboard for some key metrics I thought they’d want to see.  I also made a list of duplicate fields and ran reports on usage and sent them to the Operations Manager so he could let me know which fields could be merged.  I also told him about the data loader and that once he made that decision that I could easily load the data on the back-end to the surviving field so no data would be lost on purging fields.

At the end of the day the Operations Manager called me into his office.  In his office was the COO and the CFO of the company.  He was showing them everything I did in one day.  They couldn’t believe it.  The COO was so happy that her dashboards were running.  The CFO was so happy that she could see all of the correct opportunities and didn’t have to be in an admin profile anymore.  We spent the next 15 minutes going through my plan of how we could clean up the duplicate fields and picklist values.  At the end of the conversation the Operations Manager got up and picked up a piece of paper off of his printer and handed it to me.  It was an offer letter!  The CFO went back to her office and came back with a check.  Not only were they offering me a job, they were going to pay me for the day.  I of course signed the offer letter right then and there.  

Sometimes all it takes is a little thinking outside the box to get your Yes.  If you’re reading this blog and still waiting for your Yes.  I’m here to tell you that I believe in you.  I know you can do it.  

I was so excited when I started this job.  On my first day, they gave me business cards!  I don’t know why that was so special to me, but it was.  It was like you know you’ve made it when...you have your own business card.  My first few months were spent re-implementing their org and fixing their issues.  After that was complete I worked on some cool projects regarding routing and invoicing.  You can see more about that on Button Click Admin!  

As always thanks for reading and Happy Administrative Professionals Day!



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