Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Landing Your Next Developer Gig on the Platform

Excerpt from an email I received this week:

"Hey JP, I notice you tweet about some Salesforce jobs occassionally. I'm looking to make a change. I've spent the last year doing a lot with Salesforce, including the API through ASP.NET / C#, custom objects, custom fields, workflow rules, email alerts, custom web-to-lead, and Administration. I also do a lot with PHP, MySQL, XHTML, CSS, Javascript, and ASP.NET. If you know of any opportunities, drop me a line at ..."

Actually, it was a series of tweets DM'd to me, but I just appended them all together. I get 2-3 emails, tweets, or phone calls like this every week.

I wrote this blog for all you aspiring developers out there, looking to make a change or get plugged in to the development scene. Disclaimer: My interests are slightly self-serving: now I can just link this blog post in reply to all those emails, rather than reply to them each individually! #TimeSaver

First, take a moment and listen to @garyvee. This is one of my favorite clips by Gary, from his presentation at the Web 2.0 Expo last September.

Important Take-Away:

"Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, 'What do I want to do every day for the rest of my life?' Do that."

Working on the Platform is great, but please, Please, PLEASE don't do it unless it's something you absolutely love. Soon after you've started working with this tool, you're going to start pulling your hair out. You'll find yourself growling at governor limits, cursing Apex 75% test code coverage requirements, puzzling over the real differences between Apex and Java, and wondering why object IDs come in 15-char and 18-char flavors. Don't even get me started on the lack of VLOOKUP() functionality in workflow rules.

You'll hate it! Just like Gary hates answering the same question day after day after day ("Which white wine should I have with my fish?"). You're going to need every bit of passion and love for what you're doing to help you ride through these moments of frustration.

"You have to love what you do. Because let me tell you something ... doing what [we] do, sucks. Eighteen hours a day? [7 days a week?] ... It gets tough! But if you love it, you will win." - @garyvee

Developing in the Cloud, and on the platform in particular, is really fun and allows you to churn out some amazing stuff. But you will definitely be frustrated along the way, as you wrestle the learning curve. Love what you're doing, to get you through those frustrating moments. And then you'll be able to do it, ALL THE TIME.

Donate Your Talent to a Non-Profit
The philanthropy model at is simply amazing. They have an organization, the Salesforce Foundation, which donates user licenses to qualified non-profit organizations all around the world. Developers have written custom applications specifically designed for these non-profits, to help them with volunteer management, donor management, membership / household tracking, and so much more.

With the help of Salesforce Foundation, these Non-Profits have the tools -- now they need you. to help with their deployments, customizations, and training.

If you're trying to break into the Development scene, consider donating some of your time to one of these Non-Profit organizations. They don't even have to be local! I'm located in New Hampshire, but I've been able to collaborate and design solutions for non-profit organizations in California, Texas and Colorado.

It's a great way to get some exposure working with the platorm, gain some references for future contracts, and do something wonderful for a worthy cause.

Later, after you become a wildly successful developer, I hope you'll come back to the Salesforce Foundation now and then. Donating just a small amount of your time (even just 1%) can make all the difference in the success of a non-profit organization!

Ready to get involved? Click here, or send an email to requesting more information.

Get On Twitter
If you don't know about Twitter, you have to get plugged in to it. Now! Twitter is a micro-blogging service, which I've talked about previously. It's very powerful, because it lets you tap in to a huge network of Employees (Program Managers, Developers, Community Managers, etc.) as well as other Consultants, Salesforce Partners, ISVs, Customers, Power Users, Administrators and more.

I use TweetDeck to manage my Twitter communications. All the folks who tweet about are in a TweetDeck group, so I can monitor their Twitter stream during the day more closely than all the other folks I'm following. Not a day passes that I don't learn something new from this talented group of people! Twitter is a fantastic learning tool. Use it to learn, use it to teach, but definitely use it.

I also have a TweetDeck Search filter set up for "SFDC", "Salesforce", and "". I use that filter to find new developers and evangelists to follow. It also gives me a chance to see the many related job postings that companies and recruiters are posting on Twitter every day.

Get on Twitter, and open yourself to a whole new way of learning.

Plug In to the Developer Community has a tremendously strong developer community. Tap into it here:

I've had a couple Developers / Consultants contact me, and ask if I was able to pick up a contract for one of their clients. This happens when they are already fully loaded with projects, but don't want to turn their existing client away. The only way to be part of this network is to reach out and connect with the community.

Log on and participate in the message board forums. Learn from and/or help others. If you have a question or problem, put it in front of your peers in the community. For best results, include your code samples, as well as screenshots and images. Of course, it always helps to send out a Tweet, with a shortened URL link to your question on the Developer forums.

You'd be surprised at how helpful the community is. They'll help get your question answered and your project moving forward. Be sure to pay the community back, by looking at other questions that have been asked, for which you might have answers.

Connect on LinkedIn
There are a ton of LinkedIn User Groups out there, full of developers and technology experts on the platform. A lot of job opportunities get shared in those LinkedIn groups, as well. Update your LinkedIn profile, and get plugged in to these groups.

Get to Dreamforce
Dreamforce is the annual user conference and vendor expo, sponsored by It's 4+ days of powerful keynotes, roadmap discussions, break-out sessions, tech talk and more ... all centered around the Platform.

At Dreamforce you will meet other developers, make friends, and win clients. If developing on the platform is something you're at all interested in, this is a "must do" event. Get more details here:

Bid on ODesk
Looking for some short-term contracts for your reference portfolio? Check out the Jobs Group at oDesk! "Whether you're a skilled developer looking for that next job, or a customer or partner wanting to find and hire developers to work on small integrations and freelance projects, this is the place to be."

Check it out:

Contract Partners
In addition to oDesk, there is an entire industry designed around connecting Consultants and Freelance Developers with the Companies who need their services. If you're looking to pick up a few projects, to start building your customer reference portfolio, you may want to look into this more. A couple companies that I've heard mentioned regularly are:

- Hire On-Demand
- ForceBrain Salesforce Consultants

Check them out!

Develop Apps
Of course, you don't need to have existing clients. You can start working with the platform today. Developer accounts are free, and you can start building applications right away. Want a real challenge? Sign up for the Developer Challenge, and put your programming skills head to head with some of the best of the best!

Details here:

Welcome to the Cloud and Good Luck!


  1. Nice blog post! Never heard of ODesk before so thanks. Hire On-Demand are great people also; one is an ex-employee.

  2. Great post, really useful. Thanks a lot!


  3. Nice blog post JP. I've added a little more on the Developer Force blog.

  4. Hi, I was wondering if you might want to trade blogroll links with my blog? It is

    Shoot me an email if you would like to! Thanks!