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SAP Career Classics from JonERP.com

In years past, Jon Reed wrote a number of classic articles on how to navigate your SAP career - everything from how to write a good SAP resume to how to ace an SAP interview, from how to break into the field to how to succeed as an independent SAP consultant.

Many of these articles have vanished from the Internet, but at JonERP.com, we're bringing the best ones back! Each one will have a new introduction from Jon, and eventually, we'll bring the most popular ones completely up to date. We hope you enjoy these reclaimed "SAP Career Classics" - only available at JonERP.com.

How to Write an Effective SAP Resume Print E-mail
Article Index
Page 1
Page 2
How to Write an Effective SAP Resume:
Revisiting an SAP Career Classic

Jon Reed's new introduction, 2008: I wrote this important piece on writing an effective SAP resume years ago, and it has disappeared from the web. We are now publishing it as it was originally written. Over time, I hope to update it further, but there is plenty of useful info in this version that you can put to use right away.

In today's SAP hiring market, whether you are applying directly or through a third party, the resume plays a vitally important role. Usually you are judged on paper before you have the opportunity to "make your case" over the phone. Structuring a compelling SAP resume is hard enough if you have all the right experience- if you don't, it can be even more difficult. Let's look at the strategies that make for a good resume on a point-by-point basis.

1. There is no one correct format. The nature of the experience is more important than the style of font that it is relayed. There is also no correct number of pages to a resume. Limiting yourself to a one page resume may work against you in many cases, as the important details may have been unwisely deleted.

2. Usually you will need to customize your resume for each position submitted, or at least for the genre of positions submitted. For example, a hands-on SAP project manager will have a different resume for full time project management positions and another resume designed specifically for FI/CO contract positions.

3. Lead with your strongest card. The standard U.S. resume begins with your most recent job experience, and then works its way back in time, position by position. If this recent experience is not SAP related, it should still go first, but in brief, because you need to have some solid SAP experience listed on your first page. The key is to tie in your SAP experience to specific projects with precise chronologies. For example, if you were at a company for four years, but only worked on SAP for the last two years, the experience needs to be broken down by dates (to the month), so that we can see the precise duration you worked in an SAP environment. If you worked in technical and functional areas, you should clearly define which areas of exposure you had in each area. Some SAP professionals with strong technical and light functional backgrounds try to hide their functional weaknesses by mixing up the SAP experience in a hodge-podge of responsibilities. This is not effective. If you want to do something that is different than what you're currently doing, an objective at the top of the resume is the clean way to handle this (in other words, you might state your objective as: "seek to transition from an SAP technical to SAP functional consultant")

4. Do not mix your SAP training, education, and hands-on project experience. Assuming that you have project experience, your SAP training and coursework belongs at the end of the resume. The exception would be if you do not have project experience- we'll address that later in this article.

5. When you lead with your SAP experience, organized by chronology and project, make sure that you drill down into a deep level of detail. Sadly, many hiring managers prioritize by buzzword, such as: "does she have legal consolidation experience?" If the legal consolidation experience is not on the resume, it could cost you. Generally, you want to be able to get as deep as the specific submodules, including the versions of SAP you worked in to obtain the experience (obviously experience in 4.0 or above should be highlighted). Generally, you cannot go wrong by listing a good deal of detail on your SAP positions. However, if you are finding yourself running on over a page for one position, you may want to include an addendum which elaborates on each project in more detail.

6. A skill without a project is an orphan- tie each SAP skill directly in with a project. Don't leave the details hanging on a long list- give each one an honest home on a project. If you would like to supplement your project experience descriptions with a more general list of platforms, programming languages, etc (especially useful for Basis folks), then you can certainly also make a summary list of skills. We like to see these on the end of the resume because they are not as interesting to read as they may have been to compile. Our favorite treatment of the skills summary is not a long list but some type of chart, rating the level of experience and exposure in each area. For example, if you are a Basis person and you list the AIX platform on the resume, you will get calls for AIX jobs. If your skills in AIX are light, you're wasting everyone's time. The project chronology should address the depth of experience, but the weighted skills grid at the end of the resume can be exceeding useful.

7. The most recent project is what counts- what you've done in the last six months is who you are. There are exceptions to this, but generally, as your SAP experience ages, it is less interesting to hiring managers and needs less detail. So as you go back from year to year, you can list progressively less information on each position worked.

8. If you are a functional specialist, brag about your configuration skills. On the functional side, until you get beyond the project manager level and up into project lead and beyond, it almost always comes down to configuration skills. On each project, you need to detail the areas you configured. By all means, include entirety of the life cycle that you were exposed to, from gap analysis to end-user training, but always include each area you've configured, broken down by project and submodule. Once again, including some indication of how much experience you have in each area is very helpful. Phrases such as "heavy configuration experience in CO-PA, with some experience in foreign trade configuration" help to indicate if you were fully involved or just a "lighter" team member. This is the delicate art of listing all the areas you've been exposed to, and playing them up as much as possible but not stretching the truth. The technical interview will get at the heart of the issue, so you might as well "come clean" on paper.

9. Learn how to find words that quantify your accomplishments and showcase your strengths. This is an especially important skill for project managers and revenue producers. Tell us, in quantifiable terms, how you impacted your firm's revenues, or how your team delivered their piece of the project on a timely basis.

More and more, SAP projects are "bean counting" affairs, and your ability to get your project efficiency across on paper is an important one. Even if your overall project had problems, you can still do you best to break achievements down into your project team's objectives and what you accomplished. Companies like to know that you understand the financial bottom line that your skills will bring their organization. Hopefully you either helped to cut costs, increase revenue, or both. If you're not sure how you contribute to one of these two objectives, your SAP career may be headed for troubled waters. Usually it is simply a matter of looking at the underlying objectives of the project and then finding a way to detail your contribution. If you aided in the development of your company's client base, be specific about the revenues gained or the number of clients added. Remember though, that numbers do not lie. Be only as specific as can be verified.

10. Leadership and communication skills are best expressed in project-based terms. Everyone wants these "soft skills," but there are classy and tacky ways of expressing that you have them. Promoting yourself as a "great communicator" seems a bit over the top, but if you include certain kinds of descriptions in your project chronology, you can highlight those same skills. For example, perhaps you served as a "liason" to the technical team, or you had a leadership role during a blueprint phase of an ASAP implementation. List these duties clearly and matter of factly.

11. When you list your positions previous to your SAP jobs, filter them to show the most relevant skills for your current objectives. As we're noted before, in general you start to decrease the level of detail in each job or project description as you go further back in time. But you have to balance this with your other goal, which is to bring out the themes you are emphasizing in your SAP career.

Since the best SAP professionals combine "soft skills" with hard technical and implementation skills, indicating an awareness of the big business picture, emphasize the appropriate parts of your background. For example, if you are an ABAP programmer, you obviously want to bring out the programming and development experience in your previous positions, but it might not have occurred to you to also include some detail on another job where you functioned as a consultant in a technical support capacity that was not SAP-related. However, because you did pick up some nice consulting skills on these projects, you should detail that position with an emphasis on the consulting duties. This helps to send the message that you are not just a "techie" who does fine in an isolated cube but rarely interfaces with others.

Another example would be the MM consultant who is looking for a team lead role, despite the fact that he does not have any team lead experience in SAP. Obviously, highlighting the manufacturing lead roles in your previous positions will help to indicate that you have the ability to lead teams in that capacity. You would come "up to speed" quickly as an MM team lead and your resume indicates that as such. It should be clear now that your current job objective, whether or not you list it on the resume, provides you with a way of prioritizing all of the previous positions and helping you to bring out the most relevant parts.

Remember once again that anything you can do to quantify your accomplishments in one of two ways, cost-savings or revenue production, will give a positive impression: awareness of numbers and project goals shows that you can see that all-important "big picture." It's always surprising how many folks simply don't see their work on those terms. We had one SAP professional who singlehandedly reduced the number of outside consultants at her company from five to two, but it had not occurred to her that she could express her accomplishments in those terms.

12. Account for all of your time dating back to when you graduated from college (or if you have no Bachelor's Degree, since high school graduation. If you don't have a high school diploma yet, you may want to shift your priorities away from SAP and get that taken care of).

Nothing sends a job search in the wrong direction more than gaps in time on the resume that are fudged or not unaccounted for. If you took two years off from your consulting career to travel with a carnival then you need to account for it. You'd be surprised just how positive certain seemingly unimpressive or unrelated jobs can look on a resume if they are dressed up properly. Even "waiting tables" can look somewhat relevant if you talk about management duties and volume of customers served. Food service consulting may not be all that different than SAP consulting if it's presented properly, with your can-do attitude shining through. Many times we have seen resumes that have up to ten years unaccounted for in any way. At least indicate one line with a date to tell us what you were up to.

13. Unless your degree is particularly prestigious, it belongs at the end of the resume. This makes sense organizationally, since all the rest of your training courses and certifications are also found at the end as well. Sometimes a Master's in Business from a well- respected school looks nice at the top, but generally, as soon as you pick up solid work experience, it should go at the bottom. This applies also to PhDs. You might think that a terminal degree is something to show off, but in our experience, it is not something you want to call attention to in an SAP job search.


 

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