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5 Tips to Pivot Roles at Salesforce: A Career Story from Nicole Rojas

Valerie Nadi

September 24, 2020

Are you an adventure seeker? Some might tap into skydiving, amusement parks, or singing karaoke for a rush of adrenaline. But have you considered the thrill of a role change?

Nicole Rojas has built an engaging career by boldly exploring new positions. Her path has included moves from Recruiting, to Sales, and presently the Customer Success Group (CSG).

In this blog we share Nicole’s top tips to bravely (and successfully!) pivot to the new career of your dreams.

1. Network Through Equality Groups

Since the day Nicole joined Salesforce, she has been a member of Latinoforce, our employee-led organization that builds community and drives Equality for Latinx employees and allies.

“I was excited to get plugged into my local chapter,” reflects Nicole. “The Chicago Latinoforce president was going on maternity leave, so I raised my hand to help out. She ended up relocating and I’ve been in the role nearly four years now.”

Nicole’s participation in this Equality Group has opened many doors. From mentorships, to doing good in the community, and even presenting to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff at a Chicago town hall, Nicole sees Latinoforce as a common thread in some of her proudest moments at Salesforce.

The Salesforce Insiders Program, which connects external candidates with employees of similar backgrounds to discuss life at Salesforce, is another opportunity that stemmed from Latinoforce. “Candidates ask me things like, ‘I’ve never worked at a company that cares about Equality. How has it helped your career?’ And I always encourage them to join an Equality Group right away.”

Beyond career growth, Equality Groups are a valuable channel to foster community and share ideas. For example, Latinoforce and BOLDforce, which stands for Black Organization for Leadership and Development, recently partnered on a digital event, How To Be An Activist Ally, with the goal of providing a safe intersectional space for everyone to share their perspectives and learn how we can all become agents of change.

2. Be on the Lookout for Mentors

Whether you’re participating in a formal mentorship program, or casually learning from a leader who inspires you, a mentor can help propel your career. In fact, a Gartner study shows that 25% of corporate employees who enrolled in a mentoring program had a salary-grade change, compared to only 5% of workers who did not participate.

“My first mentor at Salesforce was the executive sponsor of Latinoforce,” shares Nicole. “He took note of what I was accomplishing within the group, and that naturally led to additional face time. Through our conversations, he helped me focus on what I was most interested in, and how to do more of it at Salesforce.”

While in a sales role, Nicole recognized that Salesforce’s technology fascinated her. She believed the ideal next step in her career would be a technical position like solution engineering.

“My mentor prodded me to uncover my true passions. He asked me what I liked about technology,” Nicole says. “I shared that I’m interested in the gaps between our technology’s potential and its application by customers. I really want to ensure our customers are getting the most value from Salesforce’s solutions. My mentor helped me understand that those interests were more aligned to a role like a customer success manager.”

3. Identify Transferrable Skills

Nicole’s passion for technology illustrates that there are many different ways to apply your interests within Salesforce. And there are many ways to apply your skills, too.

“I found myself, a business development representative, considering a role in customer success rather than following the traditional sales trajectory. I knew that some skills, like selling, weren’t a direct value-add to customer success. In order to position myself as a strong candidate, I had to focus on different competencies.”

Nicole networked with teams directly to learn more about the positions available and build a network of advocates. She set up numerous coffee chats to learn about customer success teams, understand their goals, and get a clearer vision of the skills needed to succeed.

Through her conversations, Nicole discovered that an internal project analyst within customer success was the best fit with her skills and interests. And in order to be a top candidate, she recognized that while she needed to build new skills, she also needed to advocate for the competencies she’d mastered. For example, Nicole realized she demonstrated strong project management skills when running Latinoforce programs and executing stretch assignments in Sales.

Once she identified these transferrable skills, she looked at opportunities to work these into her personal talk track and elevator pitch.
Related: Reskilling and Upskilling: The Journey to Unleashing Career Success

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4. Form a Plan to Build New Competencies

Reading Nicole’s career story summarized in a 1,000-word blog may make her journey seem easy. But after identifying the core competencies she needed to develop for the role of her dreams, it was time to make an action plan.

“It was probably a year-and-a-half between the day I decided what I wanted my next role at Salesforce to be, and actually landing the position,” Nicole underscores.

Consider reflecting and focusing your own career journey. Outline the knowledge or skills you want to gain, and the tools or experiences you need to get there. Trailhead, Salesforce’s free on-demand learning platform, can help you skill up for the future. Get started with the trail, Career Development Planning.

Bring your draft career plan to your manager or mentor for accountability. Check in regularly to assess progress, get feedback, and seek new ideas for growth.

Related: Have You Conducted a SWOT Analysis On Your Career? Here’s Why You Should.

5. Start Every Day with a Beginner’s Mind

“The most successful people at Salesforce, no matter their level of seniority, have a beginner’s mind,” observes Nicole. “They’re constantly approaching problems, meetings, and interactions like they’re experiencing them for the first time. It really helps with collaboration.”

And a beginner’s mindset isn’t just for your existing work — it can also help you network and build meaningful relationships.

“If I’m curious about someone’s work, I don’t hesitate to reach out to them. It can be as simple as, ‘Hi! I think the work you’re doing is interesting, and I love your approach. Can I pick your brain, learn more, and see if I can help or add value?’ People are very receptive to that.”

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb — that’s where the fruit is. And remember, the worst that can happen is that they say no.

Transform Your Everyday

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Curious how you can apply your varied interests at Salesforce? Learn more about our different teams, then skill up with Trailhead. Or, if you’re ready to find your next role, go ahead and explore careers at Salesforce.