One of the first things you’ll need to decide is where you want to play in this SAP universe. To make an informed decision you should consider your background as well as what you want to do. You need to consider the SAP market, which businesses are willing to pay for a given skill set, and your own interests. There’s no sense in preparing yourself for an area that has very little demand, nor is there much sense in pushing yourself into an area you dislike.
If you are new to SAP, the good news is that you are a clean slate. You can decide where you want to go and what to focus on. The bad news is that no one is going to hire you. This is one of the conundrums the SAP world shares with many other careers. No one wants to hire someone without experience, but you can’t get experience until you are hired. Don’t despair, though, because there are ways around this, and everyone working in SAP today has faced and overcome similar challenges. We all have to start somewhere.
If you are new to SAP, you should first take a look at your experience. If you’ve never had any kind of job before, you first need to get yourself ANY kind of job. Someone with no work experience raises a red flag for any hiring manager. Most businesses are not going to throw someone totally green into an SAP role. SAP is a mission-critical application, and before handing over the keys to the car they are going to want to know that you have at least driven before.
If you are fresh out of college with a computer science degree, you may need to get yourself a programming job using a different language before you can land one doing ABAP, not because ABAP is more complex (it’s not), but rather because most companies are risk averse and taking a chance on a totally green candidate is more of an exception than the norm.
Assuming you have some kind of work experience and educational background, think about how you can market yourself. Getting a job is all about marketing and selling yourself; you need to convince people that you can do the job, that you are not an unpleasant person, and that a company is not going to look like a fool for hiring you. Do you have programming experience or training? That’s a natural fit to sell yourself into a technical role. ABAP has similar syntax to COBOL, and someone who knows how to code in another language can pick it up at a basic level pretty quickly. Do you have business process experience? Maybe you worked as a customer service representative. You understand the concept of a sales order header and line items (God knows I didn’t when I started out). Maybe you worked in a warehouse and understand the concepts of storing products and bins, packing, and receiving. That’s a start on the road to becoming a functional analyst. Maybe you don’t have any of these experiences, but you can get them. Regardless, we need to get something on your resume that shows experience. We’ll devise a specific plan for this later.
Your calling card is your resume (or CV). Your resume needs to convince people that they should make a small investment of their time in talking to you. SAP is a competitive market, and every open position is likely to have many applicants. The hiring process often starts with a weeding out of resumes; one in which a hundred resumes may be received and only ten deemed worthy of reply. This isn’t always the case (sometimes speed of response plays a critical role), but without a decent resume you are dead in the water.