0 to 20 certs in 2020 : David Liu

0 to 20 certs in 2020
by: David Liu
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David’s note: At a total loss for words. This is an incredible achievement. In just a single year you cemented your career legacy and essentially guaranteed success for the rest of your very long career. Brilliant, simply brilliant! Bravo!

Hello David!

I want to thank you for your site and all of the materials you have put out. I have a success story to share with you and want you to know that reading your site helped me to realize something like this was even possible. I enjoy your blog and YouTube channel, keep up the good work!

I went from 0 to 20 certs in 2020.

I started working in Salesforce in 2016 and quickly found your site. It amazed me reading the success stories and seeing the number of people getting so many certs. I would debate whether or not I should go for them, I like to learn and always want to get better at my job but wondered if getting certs was really the best use of my time. So I’d hit up Trailhead, do some studying for maybe a day or two and then not do it for a while and not really feel like I was making any progress. I wasn’t committed to it and sort of winged it, which got me nowhere. I knew that if I was going to do it I’d need to commit to it and that a good goal would probably be something like 12 in 12 months.

In February this year I changed jobs to work for a Salesforce consulting partner, who as you know loves for their employees to get certs. I soon realized that basically all of my coworkers had certs (I had none), many with 10+. I instantly felt like I needed to get at least a couple so I wouldn’t be the only one without any certs. I figured that I should at least get Administrator and Platform Developer I since after all I am a developer. I started studying like crazy and at the end of February I finally got my Administrator cert. It was a huge sigh of relief and I also realized that it wasn’t so bad. I scheduled Platform Developer I for the following week and passed that as well. My success was motivating me to keep going and by the end of March I had picked up four certs, adding Platform App Builder and Community Cloud Consultant.

It felt like it would be difficult to keep up that sort of pace so I decided that I at least needed to get 12 in 12 months and set that as my goal. By the end of August I had hit my goal and had 12 certs including Application Architect. Even though I had hit my goal I still wanted to go for Platform Developer II and System Architect, which I could probably get by the 12 month mark if I kept it up. I kept studying daily and ended up with System Architect by the end of November. At that point I was pretty much done but getting 20 in 2020 sounded nice, and even if it really doesn’t mean anything I wanted to try and hit it.

I had a voucher for Marketing Cloud Administrator so I decided to try for that one next. I failed it twice and wouldn’t be able to sign up again until the very end of December. Even if I was able to pass it then I didn’t know if there would be an open slot to schedule it. (Side note, Salesforce makes it really hard to get a demo org for Marketing Cloud which seems un-Salesforce like compared to all of their other offerings.) I was a little deflated despite everything I had done since I really wanted to hit 20. So I turned to the only cert I had a realistic chance of getting before the year was up, JavaScript Developer I. I spent all of my available free time (including some PTO) studying and doing the super badge and managed to get it just in time.

In case you post this here would be advice I have for others:

  • Set a goal. I know you have posted about this before and it really helps. It wasn’t until I REALLY committed to getting certs that I got anywhere with them.
  • Consistency. Spend at least some time every day studying. I didn’t really track my time but I think I spent 1-2 hours most days this year. There were some days that I missed and a few where I spent maybe 15-20 minutes but I tried to do something every day. Even if it was just reviewing wrong answers I got on Focus on Force quizzes spending some time each day helps you progress. I think this was the biggest key for me, it kept me going and improving.
  • Use Focus on Force if it is available for the cert you are going for. Especially the practice exams, it makes studying so much easier. The exams are similar enough that you get an idea of what will be on the exam but different enough that you have to study for understanding. Get an idea of where you weak areas are and follow the links to documentation. If you are short on time use the exam bank, make time to do it daily.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. It will definitely happen.
  • Related to the last point, don’t be afraid to take the exam. I put off my first one because I was scared to fail and didn’t think I knew enough. I eventually took the attitude that if I felt close I should go for it, at the very least I’d learn from it but maybe I’d pass. Sometimes I failed, sometimes I managed to just squeak by.
  • Read through all of David’s blog and subscribe to his Youtube channel, the stuff I’m saying is just rewording of things he has already said. He has plenty of good advice here, the Ultimate Certifications Guide is solid.

Thank you!
-Edwin Zacharski

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February 17, 2021 at 10:30AM
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