SAP Job Market: A View from a Different Point. Part 2

SAP Expert has already published an interview with two recruiting agents, asking them about the state of the market from their part of the pitch.

Today I continue the series, with an Episode 2. This time round, there is only one interviewee.

SAP Expert: Could you please introduce yourself? How long are you in the business? What kind of recruitment do you do, markets/countries etc?

YuliaAnufrievaYulia Anufrieva: My name is Yulia Anufrieva and I’ve been working in recruitment for close to four years. I am a Director at “SY International”. My main market focus is Germany / Switzerland and Russia / CIS countries for both freelance and permanent positions supporting both IT consultancies and end customers across all industry sectors.

SE: What is the current state of the SAP job market? Is there any improvement or perspective of one?

YA: From discussions with candidates and senior representatives in large IT consultancies, it seems that the market is improving but customers are still remaining cautious to initiate large scale implementations and are ever conscious of the costs.  The market is continuing to stay within a preference for the lower cost model that many IT consultancies like Wipro Technologies, HCL, Infosys, TCS can offer and for most projects they are delivering successfully.

For the European market, there is a clear differentiation between the UK and Europe in terms of cost models and candidates average rates for certain SAP skillsets – however there has been a noticeable reduction in the ‘average’ salary and freelance day rate over the last 5 years and an increase in competition within SAP as a skill-set.

The improvement of the market will naturally reflect the improvement and confidence in the Global economy as a whole, not just within the European Union.

The Russian and CIS markets are still behind that of Europe in terms of customers implementing SAP but this is changing – the more the IT sector evolves, the further inline Russia/CIS will come with Europe. Due to language barriers, it is harder to find SAP consultants with the level of experience that some Europeans have.

SE: There are 4 types of specialists on SAP job market: freshers, freshers with certificate, experienced consultants, and experienced consultants with certificate. How does certification affect the ability of the candidate to secure the position? Do companies really pay attention to this?

YA: Very interesting question – like anything, the more people that are applying for a particular position, the more the client will have to ‘raise the bar’ in order to differentiate the candidates. If you are in a position with two candidates with the same experience, it is clear that the one with a certification will most likely get the position.

Having said this, experience is always triumphant over certification.  New skillsets like SAP Success Factors and SAP HANA will have many candidates with certificates but without experience, the client is much less likely to proceed – this is the ‘catch 22’ scenario where you can’t get experience until you work but you can’t get work without experience.

SE: Is it a good time for people to become an SAP consultant? How saturated the market is now?

YA: I think there is always opportunity within SAP as it changes all the time and every year brings a further need for candidates to specialise more and more. It’s unarguable that the market is getting increasingly saturated and it’s likely to get worse in my opinion.  There are many consultants from Asia who have entered to market in Europe and Russia / CIS over the last 5-10 years and many are adapting by learning the requisite languages to be able to participate in that market – often providing a more competitive rate than some native SAP candidates.

Even I have considered the prospect to learn SAP and become a consultant but from my experience as a recruiter, I would definitely say that focus is a key – it’s better to be a good SAP SD MM consultant than someone who has worked on SAP MM SD PP QM PM etc. Even better to further specialise in something like SAP GTS or Transportation management after learning SAP SD – it will naturally increase your chances to have a good permanent position and be a successful freelancer.

SE: It is not a secret that UK and Western Europe is an attractive place for people from all over the world. Is there any reason for people from other countries to try to get into the EU market with or without requirement for a visa sponsorship?

YA: Indeed – there are many reasons.  Financially the European market is very good compared to various countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

Also I would say that the European market is considered a ‘safe place’ to have your money, your livelihood and your family.

I have many Russians, Indians, South Africans, South Americans asking me regularly to get them a project in Europe (or even better, Switzerland) but most of the reasons initially seem to be ‘financial’.

SE: There are some recruiters on the market who announce non-existing vacancies only to harvest CVs of potential candidates. Also, there are recruiters who ask candidates for recommendations with the purpose to use a call to the referee as a sales pitch. Why does this behaviour exist and become more popular?

YA: Just as the SAP or IT market for consultants becomes more competitive, the same thing applies for recruitment agencies as more and more people are trying to establish a presence in the market.  Recruitment has only really evolved over the last 20 years and it’s proving more and more saturated.

The UK market was the first to have everything ‘taken’ and now has substantial ‘red tape / bureaucracy’. The same is happening in Europe as UK agencies are establishing further offices, hiring more Europeans and so the competition will always increase.

The effect this competition and ‘red tape’ has meant that agencies can be restricted from being a preferred supplier to a client and the only exception is if they can contact a hiring manager when he is looking for a resource and offer available candidates – the only realistic way some agencies can get this information is by talking to candidates and finding out what interviews they have had and where or to ask for references of past managers who hired the candidate.   The principal behind this is that if a manager hired that candidate previously, then he is likely at some point in the future to hire again.

SE: Thank you very much, Yulia!

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