How to Snag One of SAP’s Job Openings

Want to push SAP’s hot buttons? It sure hopes you do.

The enterprise software behemoth, with 53,000 employees worldwide, is looking to hire a couple hundred more employees for its North America operations and has three hot buttons when it comes to hiring, says Joe Strongone, SAP’s Global Head of Talent Acquisition, Technology and Innovation.

Positions Needed

At the moment, the company has 205 available positions in North America, of which about 150 are technology-related.

“The numbers fluctuate depending on our customers’ needs,” says Strongone. “Right now, the hot buttons for us, as a large enterprise company, are systems architecture, quality assurance and database design. We’re also actively seeking user experience and user interface experts and have a variety of mobile development positions open.”

SAP is a global force in business management software, solutions and services. SAP America, which oversees business operations in North America and is headquartered 15 miles west of Philadelphia in Newtown Square, Penn., has more than 14,500 employees, with more than 2,300 employees at headquarters.

Whether it’s business process applications, customer relationship management, enterprise asset management, or product lifecycle management, SAP offers technology-driven solutions to large enterprises, and it needs smart technologists to get the job done.

Catching SAP’s attention

“We really look for people who will fit into our culture and who have what I call multidimensional experience,” says Brigette McInnis-Day, SAP vice president of human resources. “Someone who is very functional, but who just does the same thing over and over and tries to climb a corporate ladder isn’t as attractive as someone who has tried to build a career with lateral moves and has taken different approaches from different functional perspectives.”

McInnis-Day also encourages candidates to focus on the impact they’ve had as members of a team.

“We’re a ‘we’ company,” she says. “If someone speaks solely in terms of ‘I, I, I, I’ we don’t like it. It’s not part of our DNA to say ‘I’. Being a team player is a top competency for us at SAP.”

Relevant experience is your entry through the door,” adds Strongone. “We’re looking for what I call ‘blended technologists.’ They are people who we also refer to as ‘T-shaped.’ The horizontal part is the blend of broad experience in several markets. The vertical part is the kind of deep experience in a vertical market that we like to see.”

The Right Attitude

Successful candidates must also show a winning attitude.

“People at SAP want to win, to do the best thing for SAP and our customers,” says McInnis-Day. “But we’re also very much about collaboration and relationship building. If you pick up the phone and ask for help, someone will help you. That’s very different from what goes on in some other large organizations. We’re intensity with a heart, edgy and aggressive, but in a collaborative and nice way.”

Candidates should also pay attention to the careful crafting of their resumes, which should never stretch past two pages (one is preferred), and which should match the available position as clearly as possible, Strongone says.

“We see a lot of individuals who just don’t have related experience to the position they’re applying for. We also watch out for unexplained employment gaps and short-term job hopping. And then there are the typos and bad formatting.  We’re a perfectionist company,” he noted.

Advice for College Grads

SAP’s door is open to new graduates, and the company has a large internship program – 200 to 300 interns at any given time. Many of its interns also later go onto full-time roles with the company.

“They are great opportunities,” says McInnis-Day. “We use interns to the fullest extent that we can and offer a full experience.” She adds that while in college, students should seek out as many jobs and as many diverse experiences as they can in order to help them get over the “no experience” hump. “Be bold and confident,” she says. Strongone agrees. “We expect our new graduates to come up with ideas we haven’t thought about. It’s OK to be different.”

Advice for Experienced Pros

SAP is also well aware that many older and experienced pros are in the job market, some for the first time in years. The keys to success, says McInnis-Day, are flexibility and reinvention.

“You need to think about lateral moves, to turn your career upside down and ask yourself ‘what is it I want to do’ and be open and flexible for different things. If you come in with a rigid attitude, that doesn’t help you,” McInnis-Day says. “You have to have an open mind and constantly be managing your personal brand.”

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