Unless you secure a role from your existing network, your CV is usually the first thing a prospective employer, client or recruiter will see so it needs to be good. It is no surprise that it is usually the people with the best CVs that get short listed for interviews and ultimately get hired.
I have reviewed 100,000’s of SAP CVs over the last 20 years and very rarely read every word on every page. Your CV needs to stand out, be easy to review at pace and be packed with key words and highlighted projects to give you the best chance of being selected for interview.
To help you get there, here’s a three-step guide to get your CV fighting-fit:
Step 1: Layout
It’s important to get the basics right, your CV should look professional, be concise and easy for time-pressured business leaders to read:
- Length: as an SAP professional, I would recommend that your CV is a maximum of 4 pages long. We sometimes see CVs that are over 10 pages long and unbelievably the record (of the CVs that we have seen) is 42 pages. Recruiters and hiring managers reviewing multiple profiles simply do not have time to read though this much information and you will be put in the rejection pile before you even start. Time to be more succinct in your communication style.
- Font: this is pretty easy, stick to a ‘professional’ type face such as Ariel, Times New Roman or Calibri. I prefer Calibri, font size 11 but any of these are a good choice.
- Bold: go easy on the bold! If you use it too often it looks messy, is hard to read and fails to highlight anything. I would limit your use of bold to section headers and jobs/assignments so that they stand out.
- Key words: it is important to note that your CV maybe first-screened by a non-SAP person for example someone in an organisation’s HR/Talent Acquisition function or a non-specialist SAP recruiter, so ensure that it contains key words and phrases relevant to the position you are applying for, include modules and sub modules.
Step 2: Format
This is a CV format that I would strongly recommend to all SAP professionals, it is clear, concise, well-structured, and as first impressions count, it will make the first page of your CV look compelling:
- Housekeeping Information
- Profile Summary
- Key Skills / Experience
- Career Experience
- Education and Certifications
You will see that I put Education and Certifications at back, this is so the reader can get straight into the meaty stuff of what you have been working on recently and for who.
There are a couple of exceptions to this:
- If your certifications are particularly relevant the specific role you are applying for you can mention them in your introduction e.g. I am an SAP Certified FI/CO Consultant or I am an Activate Certified SAP S/4 HANA Project Manager and then include again as a bullet point under Key Skills/Experience.
- If you are a graduate or junior consultant trying to break into the SAP industry and do not have a great deal of commercial experience, then move your Education and Certification section to immediately follow your Profile Summary.
Step 3: Content
Now that your layout is on point and you’ve got a structured, easy flowing format in place, it’s time to populate your CV with content. This is what will get you your interview, but don’t get carried away with minutiae, remember to stick to your goal of being concise and to the point:
This is where you put the basics that everyone needs to know and generally includes the following: name, role expertise, contact number and email address, nationality (plus Visa if relevant), city address plus travel flexibility, proficiency of languages spoken (there is no need to include this if only speak one), finally you can consider a link to your LinkedIn profile if you have one (I would use in lieu of a photo). Example below:
Your Profile Summary is your opening statement and should read like a summarised version of your key skills and experience to compel the client and recruiter to want to read more. we call this the ‘First Paragraph Test’, make sure you pass it.
My big tip here is to use quantifiable language – gone are the days where phrases such as team player, dynamic leader, highly professional and so on will make you stand out from the crowd, aren’t we all these things (at least according to our CV)? Think about using examples to substantiate what you are saying- look at the two examples below, which do you think is more compelling?
Hopefully, you thought the specifics of the second option made it the more effective of the two. Be open to working with your recruiter to change the emphasis on your Profile Summary to draw out relevant experience for specific roles.
In this case if the position were focused solely on Employee Central you would tweak your opening statement to ‘core skills in SF EC with additional delivery experience in ECP and LMS’. It is important not to exaggerate your experience or focus but if the opening statement can draw out your experience relevant to the role then great, it will help.
Use this section to highlight your key areas of expertise, this can be by SAP module, business process area, technical proficiency, leadership experience and so on. If applying for a position on a greenfield S/4 HANA programme or upgrade I would also include any iterations of S/4 HANA that you have worked with.
Continuing with the SuccessFactors theme, a Skills Summary could look like one of these two versions:
Listing your key skills and experience in either format make it easy to quickly understand your suitability for positions, plus it’s another tick in the ‘effective communicator’ box which is an important skill to have in SAP programmes.
Start with the most recent SAP project first and work backwards. Include more detail in your more recent positions as the likelihood is it will be this end of your CV that gets you shortlisted for interviews. Your positions should command less real estate the further you go back into your work history.
Each position should be clear, concise, and easy to read, you could try the following format:
Company name Dates worked
Brief project description
With content the format would look like this:
An effective way of shortening your CV in to 4 pages is to simplify your early career into bullet points and omit the detail. The reality is that, depending on how much experience you have, your early career will have little influence on shortlisting unless it is relevant to the role you are applying for such as having a pre-SAP career in a relevant business area, for example, as a finance professional when applying for an FI/CO Consultant role.
Even if this is the case you should still consider the bullet points for this section of your career so the reader can quicky and simply understand your journey into SAP without too much detail. Consider headings such as ‘Pre-2000 experience’, ‘Pre-SAP experience’ or ‘Early SAP Career’ and follow with the bullet points:
Education and Certifications
Use bullet form here again, headlines only and stick to your highest level of education, if you have a BSc or MBA, no one needs to know what GCSEs you got.
For certifications, the same rules apply, just the main points. Also include methodologies that you have worked with this section even if you are not certified.
The next steps
Now you have your impressively succinct, easy to read and to the point SAP CV ready to go what happens next? Before you do anything…. spellcheck. I’ve seen lots of CVs with mistakes like bsuiness, proffesional, they’re instead of their and even SPA. It’s just human error and nothing to get worked up over, just hit spell check and make sure you look like the professional you are.
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