Staying motivated on the path to Salesforce Certification
Studying and sitting Salesforce certification exams can sound intimidating, stressful and arduous. For me, it brings back memories of school. However, these days I have a full-proof plan to stay motivated. It’s pretty simple. For every Salesforce certification I pass, I get myself a big present. And when I say present, I’m referring to something most excellent that I’ve been thinking about for a while. New earphones, a fancy meal, whatever. For each certification I want to knock off, I think up my reward before I hit the books.
Don’t be put off by the fact that you may know nothing about a particular Salesforce technology.
We all need to start somewhere and by chipping away little by little, you’re very likely to improve. Yes, we’ll struggle at times, but it’s how you deal with failure that matters. By the way, most of us fail Salesforce exams at some point. It’s all part of the learning journey and completely normal. Below I’ve collated several studying techniques that can hopefully help if you’re starting out on your certification path.
- Goals: Work out a plan of where you want to get to with your Salesforce certifications. This might simply be to complete the admin cert, before heading onto a specific cloud that your organisation already uses, where you can directly apply your certification knowledge. It could be something more ambitious, working your way up the Salesforce certification path to be an Application architect. Like me, you might want to steer clear of anything code-related and look to earn a few consultant certs, which directly apply to my projects.
- Grasp the concepts: I’ve found that grasping the concepts before getting into any configuration is the most beneficial way for me to successfully progress. Learning a concept first enables you to understand what the feature is trying to achieve. An example of this might be appreciating the purpose behind an approval process, the different options at your disposal, and any limitations. Once I’ve understood, I’m able to logically think through the order in which things are configured. If one jumps straight in, it can be difficult to understand the feature properly.
- Get hands-on: This part is really, really important. Reading documentation or theory about how a Salesforce feature works, is only a small part of completing a certification successfully. To really understand and apply your knowledge you need to get hands-on configuring, testing and inquisitively navigating around the user interface. Set yourself up a Trailhead playground (it’s really easy and only takes a few minutes), or gain access to a dev org. Trailhead project modules can be a great way to start getting hands-on too.
- Regular study: I was really pants at school trying to cram for an exam. No matter how many Tony Robbins cassettes I listened to, I just couldn’t soak up all the information in a short amount of time. The thing with Salesforce knowledge is that I don’t just want to pass the exam, I want to keep and apply the knowledge for the rest of my career. My advice to you studying for a Salesforce certification is to do frequent shorter sessions and where necessary, revisit information that you’re struggling to grasp. Personally, I find the coding side of things trickier, like formulas, so I focus more time on topics like this, which don’t come quite as naturally to me.
- Note collation: A key part of my learning is to write some clear and concise notes. These might be specific segments from the Help documentation or other useful resources that are linked to in the Exam guide. I’ll typically read through the documentation, understand the concept, then write down the main points. The act of collating notes and returning to them regularly seems to be an efficient method to help content sink in.
- Time management: I’ve found that it’s really useful to structure my study sessions, building in breaks and not trying to commit to mammothly long sessions. I’ll aim to study for about 30 mins, then take a five minute break to go away and do something else to distract my brain, before returning to my work. I would do a maximum of two hours of study following this structure. Although I recognise that study has to fit around each person’s individual commitments. It’s useful to schedule your study sessions in advance, so you know exactly when you’re going to set aside time, and try to stick to it. As I mentioned at the beginning, build in some small rewards for yourself, once you’ve finished your study session. My mind instantly thinks of chocolate! But an alternative option might be watching an episode of your current favourite TV series…
- Give back to the community: Being able to explain or demo a concept to someone else is a great way to consolidate your knowledge. If you know that you need to take someone else through the material, you’ll require a deeper level of understanding to articulate concepts and processes clearly. Often the person you are teaching a concept to may have questions, and this will help you both to think logically about a feature or concept. Explaining to someone else might also highlight areas that you’re a little vague on and may need to revisit or explore further. Answering questions on a Community page is also an example of this, helping other people find their way in the Salesforce ecosystem and reinforcing your developing knowledge.
That’s pretty much it for my study techniques. Not all of the techniques will apply to you and your way of learning but hopefully, there’s at least one or two that you can take on board. Obviously only use the techniques that will work for you otherwise it can be draining trying to force something that just isn’t going to work. Don’t forget to reward yourself once you pass a certification and take some time out before hitting your next. All the best!