Learn How Salesforce finds and upskills AI talent in Non-Traditional Areas!


Skills related to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science remain in high demand, with companies scrambling to fill key roles in their pursuit of deep data insights to drive decision-making and to make the most of the promise of AI.

For those companies where AI is the key to the future, the skills shortage is of particular concern. CRM SaaS provider Salesforce definitely falls into that category. The company’s Einstein platform is one of the most common ways enterprises deploy AI tools, as for most companies, AI built into platforms they already use is a key means for leveraging this emerging technology.

According to IBM’s global AI adoption data, the single biggest barrier to AI adoption is a lack of skills, even as 43% of companies reported they are accelerating their rollout of AI as a result of the pandemic. Salesforce hit an earnings records, with growth of 24% to $21 billion in total sales, in some part thanks to its AI-powered Einstein platform, getting creative in pursuing AI and data science talent has been essential.

Finding talent in non-traditional areas

For Salesforce, supporting the growth of its AI-related platforms and services is not just about mining the usual corporate recruitment channels. While most companies seek out relationships with local or traditionally tech-rich universities, Salesforce partners with more than 700 colleges and universities around the world.

And in doing so, Salesforce is finding that it’s getting easier to find graduates who have the necessary skills. That’s not just thanks to the breadth of effort, but shifts in the coursework required at many universities these days. A lot of graduates that come to Salesforce as developers nowadays do have some data science background.

Salesforce also runs a program in cooperation with Year Up, a non-profit working to redefine and diversify the IT talent pipeline, having helped more than 34,000 disadvantaged youth find opportunities in finance and technology. The Year Up program brings youth from underprivileged backgrounds as interns here, and a lot of them become employees.

So, another nontraditional recruitment strategy Salesforce has undertaken is to look for people who are not currently in AI-related roles who are interested in making the move. According to an analysis conducted by LinkedIn earlier this year, half of employees who have moved into data science and artificial intelligence jobs have come from unrelated fields.

At Salesforce, that includes internally recruiting nontechnical staff. Employees who move laterally within a company already understand the company’s culture and its product lines.

When employees move over to the AI team from other areas of Salesforce, they typically start out by taking Salesforce’s internal AI for product managers course or other internal certifications Salesforce has to offer.

Accessing the Trailhead

The major platform for Salesforce training is its Trailhead platform, available both to internal employees and the general public. That content includes more than 200 learning modules and 15 projects. For example, users can build a cat rescue app that recognizes different cat breeds. Companies seeking to leverage Trailhead to train up their own staff can sign up for myTrailhead for Employees, for $25 per user, per month.

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