Tell us about yourself and your career.
My name is Bill Apostolacus and I had various roles in my former company for 22 years, including data analyst and relationship manager. In 2015, I began door-to-door sales for a solar company but left after a year and a half and eventually found myself in a career transition. I discovered Philadelphia Area Great Careers Groups(PAGCG), and through them, a fellow PAGCG member told me about Salesforce. I quickly got excited about it and knew that this was what I wanted to do. The organization gave me the golden opportunity to build their Salesforce system from the ground up, giving me the hands-on experience needed to succeed.
Why were you looking for a job?
I was laid off due to restructuring. It was strange having to go through all those feelings after such a long tenure. I decided to get away from the computer and do some soul searching as I was still dealing with the shock of figuring out what I wanted to do with my career. I had to ask myself, “Now what?”
How did you discover PAGCG?
I found out about the PAGCG on Meetup. Initially, I was using Meetup to find other avenues from my sales job that I was working at the time and stumbled upon this organization.
How did PAGCG help you in your job search?
Lynne Williams’ LinkedIn classes and Job Search Accelerator courses jump-started my LinkedIn profile, which was huge for me. I learned how to get LinkedIn to work for me and maintain my online presence in the job search. I didn’t realize how critical LinkedIn is for networking.
I also received general feedback on my resume and how to network with others. The Monday Malvern meetings led by Kevin Keene helped me realize that I was not alone in the job search. We were able to hold each other accountable and bounce ideas off one another – the sense of community was significant.
How did you find your job? How long did it take?
It took a couple of years to land a full-time job. I didn’t know Salesforce at all and had to teach myself this new skill. In 2018, I had one certification and felt confident going into interviews. A year later, I had four certifications under my belt and eventually landed my job. Naturally, I built a Salesforce system to track my opportunities. I applied to 92 jobs, receiving no response at all to 33, but 59 lead to a first interview. Later, I had 26-second interviews and seven third interviews, which ended in 3 actual job offers, and I started my full-time job in September 2019. I was able to truly grasp the power of LinkedIn by letting recruiters know I was available and making sure I had a LinkedIn connection in the company before applying to the position.
What kept you motivated during the job search, especially during the downtimes?
Knowing deep down that Salesforce was what I was going to do. Salesforce has a tight-knit group that is so supportive and provided a sense of community. Eventually, I realized there were so many companies using Salesforce systems that I knew I could get hired quickly with the knowledge I’d gained. My experience gave me control over the direction of my career.
What were the lessons that you learned during your job search?
You need to approach the job search with a sales mentality. In sales, it’s all about opportunities: you must have a pipeline, you must have numbers, and you must have options out there. I always had 20 opportunities available at a time. Eventually, one of those would hit, and “No” just means “next opportunity.” At the end of the day, it’s about the stars aligning in a sense – once a company knows you have the skills, it’s about your personality and a culture fit. Lastly, if someone can refer you, you are a known candidate to that organization because once you make that connection, you already have a warm introduction made.
Do you have any networking tips or tricks that you can share?
LinkedIn is crucial. You have to be on LinkedIn, and you need to build that network to become more visible online. The more extensive that network can be, the better because recruiters use LinkedIn so often to search for candidates. Also, talk to recruiters on LinkedIn and ask yourself, “How can I help them, and how can they help me?” Offline, I would suggest going to industry-related events to meet others and let them know that you’re looking.
What will you do in your new role?
I am the Salesforce Administrator of a 700-user Salesforce system to navigate the new interface.
What is one takeaway or nugget of wisdom that you would like to share?
Think positive and feel sure about what you want to do in your career. Ageism is out there, but there is nothing you can do about it, so don’t worry about it. Find a way around it by keeping a positive attitude and networking.