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Unable to break into an SAP career despite certification and industry experience

I have been an SAP-certified consultant in SD module since August of 2003. Before that I was a Siebel consultant with Deutsche Bank for two years. I have an MBA and am an electrical engineer. I have not been able to break into SAP since I have passed my exam for SAP SD, and everybody seems to be asking for more than three years of experience.

I have been an SAP-certified consultant in SD module since August of 2003. Before that I was a Siebel consultant with Deutsche Bank for two years. I have an MBA and am an electrical engineer. I have not been able to break into SAP since I have passed my exam for SAP SD, and everybody seems to be asking for more than three years of experience. It's frustrating, as I thought the job market was great right now.

I want to know if there is any way I can gain more hands-on experience while waiting for a job, as I am forgetting...

things, even though I did great in my exam (82%) and theoretical knowledge is all I have. I have also been considering SAP CRM training, but then worry what if I might meet the same fate. Another option is to go back to Siebel jobs but am not very keen on it, as I think long term prospects of working in SAP are better.

I'm glad you asked this question, because I get a lot of questions from readers about certification, and they often seem to think that once they invest in certification, they will easily get a job in SAP and be off and running. I hope they read your question carefully and realize that even for folks like yourself -- who have relevant industry experience, including an MBA, and a well-thought approach to breaking into SAP -- that it's not always easy to get that all-important "first break."

As for your situation, I certainly appreciate how frustrating that is -- especially because you know, that with your background, you could make a real difference on an SAP project if someone would give you that first chance! To be honest, I have a lot of problems with the fact that employers can't see beyond their tunnel-vision focus on SAP skills and see the big picture of what someone like you can offer. I think that many projects suffer because of this small-mindedness. But nevertheless, these are the rules of the game and you can't hate the game or you'll just go crazy. You just have to find a way to break through. And as for your comment about how you thought the job market was great right now, I'm not sure where you got that impression, but there's always hype to wade through when it comes to SAP. I have been saying for a long time that it's not a great job market, or a terrible SAP job market, but a "winners and losers" market. Certain SAP consultants with well-defined niches are doing very well, but most folks are finding it pretty challenging to stay on projects with the rates they are targeting.

The SAP job market has picked up, overall, in the last six months, but to call it "great" is really a stretch. It's a mature, competitive market that is not easy to break into, and requires an ongoing skills strategy to succeed in.

I know you don't want to hear this, but having said all that, I really do think that it's worth giving SAP CRM training a shot. I'm not sure it would make the difference for you, but I do think that SAP CRM is poised to have a very good year and it's possible this training could make the difference. But, in fact, the key to getting involved in SAP CRM is just to get hired onto a project that is heading in that direction, and that is easier said than done. I have to think that somewhere there is a company that can use your current skills and would consider pulling you onto their CRM project down the road. Maybe there are better options for you, but I'm not sure that returning to Siebel is the right one. Siebel's position in the CRM market is weakened due to the dominant position of the main ERP packages. I guess if you don't pursue SAP CRM, I would almost suggest going in a completely different career direction than going back to Siebel. Siebel's days of market dominance are in the past, so I'd avoid that option even as a fallback and come up with some other alternative instead, perhaps working in the emerging SMB space where Microsoft is poised to have a huge impact. Good luck!

This was last published in March 2005

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