I am a certified SAP consultant specializing in end user training and change management, and I am currently job hunting. Although I received the same training and certification as functional consultants, I am being told I am "not technical enough." What is the best way to overcome this perception?
The perception you are dealing with is an accurate one. While your knowledge base overlaps with that of functional consultants, you do not have the hands-on, project-tested configuration skills they do, and hiring managers are accurately recognizing that fact. Your job is to decide whether you like your current niche in training and change management, or whether you want to do what it takes to become a functional consultant. It sounds to me like you are feeling a bit like Rodney Dangerfield, not getting enough respect out there. This is a common experience for SAP trainers, who perform a very valuable service that, like teaching in general, is underpaid and under-appreciated. Sometimes the best thing to do is to throw up your hands and go after the skills that will get you the technical credibility you want. This means using the tactic of leveraging your current skills and working your way into more serious functional roles "from the inside."
Instead of being in denial about the skills that separate you from experienced functional consultants, a better approach would be to take this on as a challenge you are determined to overcome. Prove these nay-sayers wrong! The best way to do this is to get one of the clients you've come through for in the past to come through for you now. You stand a better chance of getting some bona fide configuration work from a current client that's grateful for your help than from someone you've never met. Today's SAP hiring managers are quite stubborn in only hiring experienced veterans for configuration roles. While this can be a frustrating state of affairs, I can't say I disagree with them on this point. Sometimes the key to competing is to find a way to compete from a position of strength. If you can figure out how to package your skills and target positions you look a "strong" fit for, you'll find a way forward.
This was first published in March 2003