One challenge that those that are new to the Salesforce platform face, whether they are certified or not, is how to land your first Salesforce job. If you approach a company or a recruiter about a Salesforce Administrator or Developer opportunity, but do not have anything on your resume related to Salesforce, you will have a hard time landing an interview slot. Although I do personally know of people who have been hired as Salesforce Administrators with neither a certification or experience, you can certainly stack the odds in your favor by following these steps.
Grow Where You Are Planted
You can leverage Salesforce at your current job, whether your employer uses Salesforce or not. The ideal scenario is if your employer is a Salesforce customer and you have been granted a license of some sort. I volunteered to take on greater responsibilities in my current role, when I was first studying to become a certified developer, and was granted admin access to my employer's Salesforce org. I also had the opportunity to sit in on the third-party consultancy calls with our solution provider. This gave me the opportunity to add legitimate Salesforce skills and work tasks to my resume and LinkedIn profile. Expect your phone to start ringing and emails to start flowing in the moment you add Salesforce to your resume.
But what if your employer is not a Salesforce customer? I have a solution for that. I recommend that you go ahead and sign up for a free developer account. This is an Enterprise level Salesforce account with 2 user licenses. You can use this free account to learn Salesforce on. Not only that, you can set up your own developer org to assist you with your work duties. You could create a custom app that helps you manage your workload in your current job, for instance. You could set up new reports and dashboards for your own reference as well. The idea behind this strategy is that you would be leveraging Salesforce and its capabilities to improve your own productivity in your current job. This would enable you as well to update your resume and LinkedIn profile to start weaving in Salesforce and other Salesforce-related keywords, so that you start coming up in searches made by recruiters, etc.
Volunteer for a Non-Profit
Salesforce.org provides free Salesforce environments/orgs to thousands of non-profit organizations, up to 10 user licenses, before they start charging. These non-profit organizations usually need help in getting their implementations off of the ground. This is where you come in. You can find these volunteer opportunities, and give away your time in exchange for building your experience on the platform. This gives you real-world projects for organizations that you can add to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
To effectively do this, I recommend that you contact Taproot +, Catchafire and LinkedIn for Volunteers to set up your own user profile and potentially get matched up with non-profit organizations that need help with Salesforce. I don't have courses designed specifically to working in non-profit Salesforce orgs, and there are some key differences that you'll need to understand. This specifically deals with the Non-Profit Starter Pack, as well as some of the nuances and differences between regular Salesforce and non-profit Salesforce instances. I recommend the Donation Management and Fundraising Basics trails on Trailhead as educational resources on how nonprofits use Salesforce.
For more on how to get started with building your Salesforce experience and resume, please consider enrolling in my free 1.5 hour course on Salesforce Certifications and Career Paths.