Preface: this post is part of The Definitive Salesforce Careers Guide series.
Let’s pretend you passed a bunch of Salesforce certifications and you’re itching to find a new job!
What kind of company should you join? A consulting firm? A small company? A large company? You probably have goals in mind, but you don’t know which type of company would help the most.
Good news! I’ve worked with all types of companies in the Salesforce industry and I’m here to share with you which type of company is best for your specific need.
Small / Startup Companies
In the Salesforce world, a small company is an org with 500 Salesforce users or less.
Smaller orgs / companies are my personal favorite!
If you want Salesforce to be your playground to tinker and experiment with things, then this type of company is for you! I especially recommend smaller companies to new graduates or people new to the industry. You’ll learn a ton without having to sell your soul (see: consulting).
In the Salesforce world, a large company is an org with 2,000 Salesforce users or more.
Working in-house at a large org / company is best for those who want a stable, predictable job. You’ll work reasonable hours and won’t have to veer too far from your core job responsibilities.
It might not be as exciting as working in a smaller org, but, you’ll learn things that smaller orgs never encounter – like architecture concepts, Apex frameworks, and general Salesforce best practices.
I generally think larger orgs are better for people in their mid to late careers. You’ll have less pressure to drink from the firehose and you’ll be in the best position to use the various skills you’ve learned throughout your career.
The Accentures, Deloittes, and Appirios of the world.
I sometimes think there are two personalities: those who are consultants, and those who aren’t.
Consulting is not for everyone, including me. The long hours, the constant face you have to put on, and the lack of a true family / home lead me to joke about having to sell your soul to go this route.
On the flip side, you absolutely have the most learning opportunities as a consultant. If your goal is to become a Certified Technical Architect, you pretty much have no choice but to go this route too.
Don’t forget, there can be mixing and matching of traits. For example, a small consulting company could be a mix of both types. There are also exceptions, for example, I wouldn’t consider Google to behave like the typical big company. Ask a friend or check Glassdoor first to be safe!
Hope you enjoyed this post!
Next post: How to get Salesforce experience (without having a Salesforce job)!
Great article you have here, I wish I bumped into this like a year back, and I will definitely reconsider my current consulting path. I accepted a new job in one of those big consulting firms listed in your article. Felt that it’s really not for me. I am at mid/senior career and should really go with the big org, even my friends advised me but I did not take the advise.. I also went thru your Salesforce Personality test and notice I am actually belongs to the Administration path, which make sense to become a Salesforce Admin/Manager/In house for the big Corps.
Anyway it had happened and I will stick with the role for maybe another half year before I move on.
Anyway, wish to ask, which camp do Freelance Consultant belongs to? Is it the Small corp or consulting camp? It is also one of the path I seriously think about as my next move aside from becoming an In house consultant.
Ah good luck in your journey! Freelance is really it’s own path, I am not too familiar with it honestly it is quite rare!
Nice write up as always and I was able to re-evaluate myself.
I have worked in larger orgs to smaller (but not consulting) and each has its own pros and cons. Working with consultants, I had gained more ideas and alternate know-hows; so one could imagine their vast knowledge.
I recently took SF Admin (my 2nd job as SF Admin) role in a financial institution ( 200 employee base) and I was expected to be a magic potion for all their CRM problems. The company does not have a development team; just an IT infrastructure team with network admins and technicians. I was placed in their team and attended one meeting of theirs did not make any sense to me. So, the companies do not have a basic understanding of what SF Admins do. I was hired to replace their existing MS CRM system and the best part is when the IT Dir and CFO said that they wanted this to happen very soon by moving data from one to another and the users need to be in SF ASAP (their terminology for this is …SF should be up and running for one group of users). I was speechless! I asked them about data integration piece from another system which they didn’t even bother as no one internally knows the schema of SQL db. Then after explaining them, they understood the importance of integration of small amount of data in SF that is going to be beneficial for running their business.
How does a single admin tackle this? Infact before joining, I had asked them for a proper SF project team with PM, a data architect, and a SF admin (myself). Till now, they have ignored my request. Right now, I am evaluating SF partners and arranging for calls and evaluating them, analyzing existing CRM data, drawing business process flows, working on SSO with IT etc and I am new to LEX and configuring the system which is the only exciting part.
Though it’s going to be a great experience, it will give me only internal satisfaction of how I led the project, implemented, supported, enhanced etc. But it is at the cost of several hours and sleepless nights, ruining health (thanks to pain killers), cursing and regretting oneself for not able to spend time with kids and their academics, and if at all any big monetary benefit for wearing multiple hats ..Nada, zilch,….And asking for promotion especially the title change with appropriate salary always seems to be like speaing to a deaf person and after all these tiring work, when you find different job and try to move on……they now want to keep you back with all you wanted earlier + more! But once its been decided to move on, it would be mostly final decision but the next job will be a deja vu and start from ‘A’ again!
Sometimes just because of passion for a technology like SF, we are ready to tolerate any level of BS. But in this process, I believe one should take a pause, evaluate, draw a line and not let the companies (irrespective of size) take advantage of an individual! Poor DH …He is tired of listening to me and asking me to quit my current job and do freelancing or join any consultancy who can offer remote work!
If you have any thoughts, kindly share.
Thanks for sharing, M. At that point I’d honestly change companies.
They’ll understand once you’re gone. LOL
Thanks, David! Yet another weekend to re-think and re-evaluate but that inner self loses the battle as soon as it logs into SFDC and sees Astro! Anyways rock on DF’17 as usual and I am sure it’s a treat for everyone who listens to you!
Thank you M!
Sadly, what you have experienced – and suffered – is not uncommon at all. Roughly around half of all CRM implementations fail, for many reasons, but lack of executive sponsorship and vision is a big one.
At many companies, top management hasn’t the foggiest idea what is CRM, much less Salesforce.com. At best, they are in the dark as to what best practices are. It should have been a BIG RED FLAG when you interviewed and saw that there were no SFDC developers, much less a Salesforce Project Team. Having the Admin do development work or vice-versa, or not having a Data Architect when integrations are involved, are a recipe for failure.
If you haven’t already done so, polish up your resume and start looking for a new position. There are plenty of companies who would love to have a hard-working admin like you.
Big fan, love your content 99% of the time (see what I did there?), but like John and Aaron, I am happy to say your consultant cons for the most part do not resonate with me. I think the cons you mentioned could be the cons of any company and has more to do with the culture than the type of work.
I work at a GREAT consultancy (eightCloud) where we have awesome work/life balance, minimal travel, lots of opps to try new things. We also get to go to Dreamforce every year (plus all the pros you mentioned).
Here are the cons of consultancy work that I have observed… but honestly they are less “con” and more of a “heads up”:
– Most SF consulting work is remote and remote work can be more challenging for extroverts. If you like a little bustle around your cubicle, if impromptu collective IQ sessions fill your tank, working from home can be shockingly quiet and unnerving at first and you have to be extra intentional about getting team time and/or just human interaction so you don’t implode.
– Remote work also requires the ability to set boundaries. This is a little different from “work/life balance” because my management has empowered me to set boundaries, your worlds are not separated by buildings and a 30 minute commute, so you have to be able to separate them yourself. (e.g. These are my work hours – so no Netflix or Facebook. These are my family hours – so no email or Slack.)
– Consultants have to clock watch, which is not fun and takes practice if you didn’t have to do that as a solo admin/dev working ALL your hours for your company. (e.g. 12.5 hours for Client A this week and 13.0 hours for Client B and… ).
– Juggling multiple production orgs requires more notes and documentation than when you have only one org to manage. WIth one org, you may be able to rely on your memory to recall where you left things off from day to day or week to week, however, if you are a consultant with multiple clients and production orgs, you HAVE to up your note taking and documentation… if not for the client, just for yourself, so you can recall things that have flown out of your short term memory.
– I do agree with one of your cons; one-off project work can be hard if you like to keep polishing what you’ve done. As a consultant, you often have to deliver a solution and say goodbye, when what you really want to do is continue to tinker and refine it indefinitely, making it better and better as feedback trickles in and the business changes, but alas, your baby bird has left the nest. (It’s a mixed metaphor, sue me).
Again, that’s my con list for consulting at a GOOD consultancy.
ha ha ha, thank you for sharing Roy!! Great take and great company you work in!!
A lot of good points, one I found especially interesting was the extrovert one. I’m an introvert myself so it’s funny how one can be a huge pro or con depending on personality!
Firstly, I love to read all your articles and great article as always.
However, I do not agree with some of cons related to smaller companies. It all depends upon the team on board and the people in the organization. We are a small organization but we follow design patterns for any kind of customization, follow the best practices and ensure our work speaks and not the name.
The situation in India is such that smaller companies pay more or at par with bigger companies. Best of the talents are found in smaller organizations.
You are of course right about the fact that most challenging work can be found only at smaller companies.
I too have worked in all the three kinds of companies and the maximum learning that I had was from smaller organizations. This is not biased opinion based on my current company but an honest one..:)
Hope to read much more interesting articles from you.
India is fascinating!! Thank you for sharing!!
Which company are u working in ??
Thank you T and congrats on your opportunities! I’m sure you will make the right analysis! All the best!
I’ve been at Appirio for almost a year, and my experience has not been that I’ve had to sell my soul. I work remotely and have more free time and flexibility to spend time with my family than I did at my previous job at the corporate office of a medium-sized retail company with about 500 stores nationwide.
I do think you’re spot on about consulting not being for everyone. And there are a tooooon of learning opportunities.
Really great post, i have been working with small org since last 4 years,this is my first company, i have got to learn lot’s of things here, but as you mentioned in your post one big issue i have to face here that is Longer work hours, now my health doesn’t help me to work more than 9 hours, i always love to learn new things mostly technical things.
I am planning for job change and get placed in a big company but the concern is that we have to work on maintenance project mostly, you don’t get to innovate, for this reason i didn’t change my job but now i have to change. Sometimes i afraid i shouldn’t go into the comfort zone if i join big company.
What should i do, please suggest ?
Try to find a medium sized company or a large one with a small Salesforce org!
How about company between 500 – 2,000 users, which is “medium”?
It all makes sense and is highly valuable information. But one unanswered Q? Which route should I take?
And, of course, the other very important variable is our actual skill level because, in my experience, if your skills are in high demand, you call more of the shots re working hrs and remuneration. Or not?
Really depends on your goals!
If you read all three and all are equally viable, then I actually might suggest refining your goals to be less open ended!
For example. Let’s say my goal is to be the best Salesforce professional possible and everything else doesn’t matter. A consulting firm is best because you’ll have the most learning opportunities.
Or maybe your goal is to transition to a more technical career. Then go small company for role flexibility!
If you’re highly skilled and want compensation plus reasonable hours, then large company is the clear choice!
If you’re comfortable sharing your goals I can recommend one too!
What about freelance consulting?
Is that big or do firms prefer in house?
I see a lot more companies hiring full consulting firms vs freelancers. Not to say it doesn’t happen but it just happens less!
If you’re freelance and have a good network though you’ll have more than enough projects to keep you busy!
Great stuff as usual David. However, with the Consulting Firms, I think there is an important distinction to be made between the big national Big 4 types like Accenture and Deliotte, and the smaller regional firms. I recently started working for a smaller consultant, and it is very much a family atmosphere, with a strong belief in work/life balance. There is very little turnover compared with the big guys. The bigger firms are best for younger people without a family because of the hours and travel, no doubt.
Thanks John! Looks like you get a good balance there between “small” and “consulting” and you probably didn’t have to sell your soul. You’re in a great place!
Really helpful post for those freshers like me.