Interested in being a Salesforce developer?

March 3, 2022
5 min read
DA Ledger

I’m thinking of taking a Salesforce Developer opportunity. What can I expect? What are the best and worst parts about your role? I would like some insight: am I going to be doing cool dev work at any time? Will I bang my head against the wall trying to overcome Salesforce’s way of doing things?

Someone asked that question about being a Salesforce developer recently:

What are the good parts of being a Salesforce developer?

I think the best part of being a developer on the Salesforce platform is getting a front row to see how businesses operate. You’re close to the Sales function. You get to see how Support thinks about serving customers. You understand how big of a role marketing plays in keeping a company’s products top of mind. If a Salesforce developer decides to start a startup, there’ll be no shortage of AppExchange products to build because of how close they got to business’s problems.

Another great thing is you have the leverage to get paid well, but you'll have to do well in the interviews and learn to negotiate to see the money.

If you have excellent technical skills and can speak both DeveloperSpeak and BusinessSpeak, your Salesforce career will skyrocket because you can dive into the technical weeds with development teams and then with the business you can speak just plain English. It’s a hard skill set to find.

There are plenty of niches to be found. Take CPQ as an example. You could spend your development career becoming an expert on CPQ implementations in Salesforce environments.

You'll also learn about other platforms and software besides Salesforce. Having a broad domain knowledge is excellent for your long-term career prospects, especially if you want to become an architect, VP, CIO, etc.

What can you expect from a Salesforce Developer role?

It depends on your level, company size, and team size. You're fundamentally learning new technologies.

When you're starting out: You are learning new technologies, writing Apex, and yanking every single process builder out of your org because they're slow as hell. You are customizing flows, and if you're working with Lightning, you're finding out how slow it can sometimes be. At my first Salesforce developer job, I noticed my development manager going to many meetings. I looked at my calendar and saw nothing scheduled on my calendar. "This is boring...I want to go to meetings and not spend all day coding." That's what you'll likely be doing: spend your time coding without many meetings.

When you're more senior: As you rise through seniority, you'll find yourself coding less and more concerned with technical preparation, code reviews, POCs, designs, unblocking your team, etc. It will involve more meetings, and you'll be less in the weeds of Salesforce and more in the weeds of keeping an eye on the overall technical health of your Salesforce org.

Note: I had a guest post on Salesforce Ben about what it’s like being a Lead developer. Read it here.

DevOps work: If your team is large and deploying metadata to production without a release management or version control system, you'll inevitably run into a situation where someone overwrites someone else's work. The rise of Salesforce DevOps has been a pleasant trend for companies trying to add some agility to their Salesforce orgs. You’ll have a hand in ensuring the software development lifecycle is smooth.

What is the percentage of doing "cool" dev work?

If you're working at a startup, any development work you do might seem exciting because you'll feel the impact you're making. It always felt like a rush seeing a new feature or initiative help our company meet its objectives. You should check out working for an ISV (FinancialForce, DocuSign, LeanData, etc.) because you'll get to chance to work on the apps millions of Salesforce users use.

When you work for a large company, you'll find more stability concerning the business requirements. Still, you might not have the ability to be creative with your approach because the solution might have been laid out by a team of architects beforehand. I'm not sure I could work for a mega-corporation, but everyone's different.

What are the bad things?

I'll tackle the bad things about working on the platform itself in the Will you bang your head against the wall trying to overcome Salesforce's way of doing things part, but they pale in comparison to the points below if your company doesn't have a culture (or manager) you like.

Some signs of a bad company/team/engineering culture

  • Is your company a relentless penny pincher? There's a difference between being a diligent steward of company funds and being penny wise and pound foolish.
  • Leadership opinion on Salesforce: I’m not saying every member of a company’s leadership needs to love Salesforce. But keep an eye out for leadership who might have an eye out for removing Salesforce so you can look for another job (if you want to still stay on the platform).
  • Toxic behavior is rewarded: Do you see your colleagues sending emails at 10 pm as if it is completely normal?
  • Are you afraid of setting boundaries? It's crucial to set them in the age of remote work. It's ultimately on you to respect your time.
  • Is your manager afraid of saying "no" or pushing back?: If they can't say no, you open the floodgates for your business stakeholders asking for ad-hoc work to be done, which takes time away from your everyday work. It can set a bad precedent for your team to always "be on."
  • Do you see your colleagues send an essay on why they have to miss a day of work? I've seen something like this before: "Sorry, I won't be able to make it to that meeting because I'm having surgery. I'll still get x done by Y date, though." Ridiculous. Avoid!
  • There’s no culture of inquiry: As an example, do junior feel empowered to speak up or do they think they’ll be called stupid? Does leadership answer tough questions? Does your manager?

I'll also note this: If you don't enjoy speaking with stakeholders (BSAs, product owners, QA, scrum masters, managers, businesspeople, etc.), you won't want this kind of work for long.

Will you bang your head against the wall trying to overcome Salesforce's way of doing things?

Yes, especially if you came to Salesforce from another development background. For example:

  • Apex is a stripped-down version of Java. If you know SQL, you'll be frustrated at what you can't do with SOQL. Governor limits get annoying, especially if you're working with an unhealthy Salesforce org. You can't do things, and it isn't comforting when you find out what they are.
  • If the company culture s dogmatic about "build, not buy," you will bang your head through the wall trying to get Salesforce to do things other tech stacks could do ten years ago.
  • If your company doesn't have a procurement team, you're not going to like that Salesforce does nickel and dime you for every feature you want.

At the end of the day, even with all its shortcomings, I’m happy to be a developer on the Salesforce platform.

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