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Help! I want to get into SAP HR with no implementation experience

I've got HR domain experience of more than four years, with more than ten year's experience overall, while working on a legacy HR and payroll system for a very renowned Indian manufacturing company. I worked for about a year in maintenance and support on a non-SAP HRMS Application for the US/Canadian geography.

Now I'd like to shift my career towards SAP HR -- I've completed a course on SAP HR and I'm practicing. My concern is that, with what I've discussed with some consultants and friends, all MNCs demand a minimum one implementation cycle of SAP HR. If I am recruited in a company which has a live implementation, I will not meet this criteria. Unless I have live implementation experience I will not be recruited. Is there any other approach by which I could convince my recruiters?

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It's tough to break the "need experience to get experience" cycle. Although my expertise in SAP careers pertains to the U.S. market, I suspect that your assessment of your dilemma is correct: You probably don't have enough implementation experience to become a consultant. Many people in your situation go out and get SAP training or certification, hoping this will make the difference. But that's not necessarily the case, so don't think investing money in certification will get you the break you need.

You may need to take the step I recommend when you're stuck: Try breaking your career goals into more steps. Instead of jumping right through from where you are now to consulting, try to get more configuration and implementation experience in the SAP HR arena before becoming a consultant. So how might you do that? I would suggest getting a role as an HR super-user, leading and training other users, and working as a liaison with the implementation team. From there, you may start to attract the attention of the outside consulting partner and win their respect. You may also gain some configuration tips and tricks. You might also then move to a new company and take on a new perm role, getting close to the implementation side of things with each step. Eventually, you should have enough configuration skills and relationships with consulting firms to make your move. So, whenever you get stuck, just break your job transition into more steps and implement your career transition plan over time. This takes patience, but in the end, I think it's less frustrating than finding yourself rejected during interviews for "not having enough experience."

This was first published in September 2005

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