SAP Watch

Sep 5 2008   9:43AM GMT

What to do when you can’t get an SAP job

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

The SAP skills shortage has been conclusively documented by research from Foote Partners and AMR Research as well as by independent consultants such as Jon Reed and Justin Burmeister. However, it is also true that a number of people who would like to work in SAP are unable to do so. One such reader wrote a particularly strong message to us that included what amounted to a death threat.. Here is an excerpt:”You are spreading lies and wrong information.

This is very serious crime, you are commiting[sic]. I know a number of my friends[sic] are SAP Ceritified[sic] and experienced in BI, Nwtweaver and Web Dynpro etc. But they are struggling. They can’t find a job. Even job agencies are surprised.”

This letter demonstrates the intensity of feeling generated by those still having trouble finding work in SAP, but it is also helpful for demonstrating how to respond to your personal SAP career search in times of adversity. Ask yourself the following five questions:

1. Have I honestly evaluated my skills? You, your friends and recruiters may not be the most objective judges of either your talent or your prospects in the workplace. Are you active on SDN and, if so, how do you compare to your peers there? If you attend SAP events on your specialties, do you feel left behind in the technical workshops? It’s painful to say, but SAP certification is not a one-time process like getting a medical degree — your skills have to be continually honed, expanded and practiced to be valuable.

2. Am I in the wrong location? The reader above writes from Sydney, Australia. Could it be that the local economy is slumping, thus impacting all IT projects? In IT, you have to be willing to follow the money, which is why so many non-native techies and business people have relocated to places like Bangalore and Shanghai over the past decade. Your home town may not always be the best place in which to find SAP work, or be recruited for SAP work, given your local economic conditions.

3. Am I in the wrong line of business? Ed Tittel, a contributor to the IT Knowledge Exchange, began his career as an anthropologist and later became an IT person specializing in writing books. IT in general, and SAP in particular, isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t enjoying your career and find yourself deeply frustrated by the feast-or-famine conditions of some kinds of IT, you might be temperamentally suited for a more stable job, such as teaching.

4. Am I networking? Some job leads don’t come from recruiters — they come from friends or acquaintances. IT can be an asocial profession, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying to expand the number and quality of your contacts. They could give you your next job.

5. Am I properly utilizing negative emotions? When Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, his reaction wasn’t to issue his coach a death threat. It was to use his failure as motivation to work harder. Later, Jordan actually thanked his high school coach for providing that motivation, without which Jordan may have remained a mediocre player rather than become an all-time great. Joblessness and underemployment can wreak havoc with your morale but, taking Jordan’s example, you should do something positive with those emotions.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor

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  • Name Withheld
    I'm afraid I agree more with the person who wrote that letter. Those of you who look at the industry as a whole are out of touch with the hiring reality on the ground. A fair estimation of "skills" is usually just a way for management to justify decisions that are based on primal feelings, hearsay, and most important, popularity. I work for a company with practically an unlimited supply of engineers it can bring over from India whenever something goes wrong in a project. They fire people and throw new engineers on the wall to see what sticks. Project managers are often not technical and don't know if a project should take a week, a month, or a year. They have no opinion as to whether it should cost a hundred thousand or a hundred million to build. The situation is entirely subjective. Then when things go wrong, they cover up their own managerial incompetence by blaming the developers and telling everyone they didn't have the right skills. I've played this "skills" game for fifteen years, keeping current, learning cutting-edge technologies, attaining at least one new certification every two years. Finally I got smart and left the consulting industry entirely. My advice for those who are still in the game is to forget about skills and just find someone well-connected to suck up to.
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