How recent graduates can catch up with SAP experts

While the number of women in tech-related industries continues to grow, albeit slowly, it remains a highly competitive arena. So keeping knowledge sharp about relevant systems is essential.

SAP is a growth area worth keeping abreast of. It is the third largest provider of software solutions, after Microsoft and Oracle, benefiting everyone from big businesses to small startups. However, SAP is becoming a saturated and competitive market, with an increasingly high number of applicants per available position.

This can leave new graduates feeling particularly daunted. Breaking into the industry isn’t easy, but when it comes to finding SAP jobs, recruiters like Eursap, reveal that applicants need to display more than just long-term experience.

Here’s the skillset that may elevate an SAP newbie above an SAP ‘expert’:

1. Soft Skills

The rapid rate by which technical knowledge becomes outdated and redundant sets the SAP sector apart. Whilst, in the course of many other career paths, knowledge is simply built on, in the technical sphere hard skills can become completely irrelevant within an alarming short time-frame.

Increasingly, employers are realising that, when it comes to SAP, experience does not necessarily guarantee ability. In a report on the importance of soft skills SAP themselves stated that roughly half of the subject knowledge acquired in the first year becomes outdated by the fourth during a four-year technical degree.

Discussing the rising importance of ‘soft skills’—attributes which include being able to think critically, laterally and logically—SAP say “we receive little, if any, formal training, for example, in creativity and innovation, empathy, emotional intelligence, cross-cultural awareness, persuasion, active listening, and acceptance of change.” Such abilities transcend the ever-adapting SAP employment landscape by promoting intellectual flexibility and mental adeptness. Unlike transient technical prowess, soft-skills will never become irrelevant.

2. A Thirst for Knowledge

SAP requires constant learning. Therefore, being able to show a fervid interest in the keeping up with the latest tech and software developments is going to put any aspiring or current SAP worker at a huge advantage. Working towards qualifications and certificates can provide useful proof of essential skills.

Keeping abreast of the latest developments might be indicated to employers in a variety of ways. Attending training sessions will help to extend an SAP skill set, and going to conferences such as Sapphire and SAP TechEd will help instil a broad array of knowledge.

Gaining experience with the latest SAP releases, enhancements and products is always going to be advantageous in this malleable industry. Similarly, reading about the new products or areas that are currently being marketed and discussed within the SAP community will help someone to stay on-top of, or even ahead of, the latest trends.

3. Relevant Work Experience

Whilst experience alone isn’t enough to guarantee a flair for SAP, it is vital to have practical knowledge of the industry. Some of the basic capabilities required for jobs in SAP, like being able to configure systems, are best learnt first-hand.

Working in one of the many companies that uses SAP, even if it’s only as an intern, will be a vital learning experience. Tailoring work-experience to SAP ambitions is ideal, but not mandatory. Generally speaking, there are two main categories into which SAP divides: technical (programming) and functional (managing relationships). Obviously, someone drawn to SAP consulting (functional) will require a different skill-set to a computer programmer (technical), and should therefore seek out different work experience.

But, having an increased understanding of any SAP role is going to help an applicant break into the industry at large. Honing SAP skills is ideal, but gaining any hands-on experience at an early stage is going to help get the ball rolling.

4. Good Networking

It’s not just a matter of what you know. Sometimes, prospering in SAP is about harvesting as many useful contacts, connections and relationships as possible within the industry—as well as working with the right recruitment agencies. Keeping relationships with previous colleagues/employers, or even from any work experience, will inevitably boost the chances of hearing about a potential job.

This networking can also be virtual. LinkedIn has over 500,000 SAP-related professionals registered on its site, along with a number of SAP groups, and numerous SAP job postings made by clients and agencies.

There are even dedicated networking sites for SAP professionals to keep in touch. SAP Community Network (SCN) is a forum consisting of blogs and comments; this is a site through which one might build a reputation within the SAP community. This is a great way to get noticed, build contacts and stay informed.

The SAP world may feel impenetrable to recent graduates—but it’s actually one of the industries that is most drawn to fresh talent, new thinking and a flexible mindset. The SAP sphere is certainly not for the work-shy, as any role will require constant learning, frequent reassessment and the positive attitude that helps someone to stay in, not just break-into, this competitive industry.

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