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SAP employee seeking consulting position hindered by niche background

Career expert Jon Reed's advises an SAP employee who wants to move to a technical consulting career role.

Hi Jon,

I have been an SAP employee for more than six years in the development organization. I work as an info developer, but my interest in technical topics led me to complete my master's degree in computer science. It was heavy on Java development, J2EE, XML, and distributed systems. Having done that, I am now bored out of my skull. And I feel like my skills are beginning to atrophy.

I like SAP, and want to repay them for their considerable contribution towards funding my degree. However, development jobs (ABAP or otherwise) are pretty scarce in our office, and relocation is out of the question. I have applied for a handful of consultant opportunities that have become available, but my SAP experience is so narrow, so specific, I can't even get an interview.

I've taught myself some ABAP, but only enough to be dangerous. I believe I would make a decent technical consultant, but without project experience, I don't know how to convince someone of this. What should I do to make myself a more viable candidate for something more interesting than documentation?

You have a pretty unique background and skill set, so it's hard to say for sure what the best move is. It sounds to me like you have exhausted your internal possibilities within SAP. I know you said relocation is out of the question, so that leaves you with the SAP customers that are commutable from where you are. If I were you, I'd send my resume to all of them and see how they respond. Some of them may have signed agreements not to hire folks directly from SAP, so you may want to be clear in your cover letter you are from the development wing of the organization, which may be subject to different rules in that regard. Basically, you are hoping that with your deep SAP skills, your resume will have an appeal to a company looking to beef up its in-house team.

Your goal, of course, if to find a role that will allow you to make a solid contribution to your new employer while expanding your skills beyond its narrow role. It sounds to me like you need to find a role that gives you something to sink your teeth into on the technical side of things. Hopefully there is a position out there that will develop your SAP development skills, ideally on a NetWeaver project where you can combine exposure to ABAP with learning new SAP development tools like the NetWeaver Development Studio and the Composite Application Framework.

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