SAP consultant wanna-be?

You have decided to become an SAP consultant. That's good news, but don't rewrite the resume just yet. There are a few things you should know first.

Consultant wanna-bes should recognize that the SAP consulting market has changed over the last three years. "Prospective clients are looking more and more for experience. However, consulting experience is not necessarily required, "says Tom Wallner of the international SAP consulting firm SAPiT. "It might be sufficient to have gained experience as an employee of a company that employs SAP." In Wallner's experience, formal training classes or qualifications like SAP certification are rarely demanded.

That means that your current resume, even sans consulting skills, may serve you just fine. One key item that may be missing from the SAP pro's resume is communication skills. "An SAP professional could easily work as a consultant as long as he or she has certain interpersonal and communicative skills," says Wallner. To brush up yours, you can download a free copy of The Seven Challenges Communication Skills Workbook at http://www.coopcomm.org/workbook.htm.

Communication skills are a good start. However, if you decide to open your own consulting business, they're just that--a start. You'll need to learn how to do everything from marketing to invoicing. One excellent resource for all things consulting is Herman Holtz's book "How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant" (John Wiley

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and Sons, 1993).

It is important to remember that consulting isn't all glitz and glamour. "The life of a consultant is not as glamorous as it might seem," says Steve Sinkoff, VP of growth strategies for Spearhead System Consultants. "There are the very long hours and hassles of constant travel, you're always under the gun to perform under tight deadlines, and the marketplace has become very competitive."

Despite the hardships, SAP consulting is a very rewarding career. "A consultant's role is a vital roll to play, and a sense of pride and accomplishment are often achieved," says Sinkoff. "It is a difficult life, a challenging marketplace, but there is nothing better than the feeling that you get when you have made a significant difference to a company's efficiency. In many cases, it's worth all the risk and effort."

-- Linda Formichelli * www.twowriters.net Writing appearing this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today

This was first published in August 2001

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