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Need career advice

By xalorous ·
I am at a crossroads. I have been laid off for 11 months now. During the first five I lived on severance pay and unemployment and did nothing to find a job. (time off and then my wife had a medical problem.)

After spending about 5 months looking for a (junior) (windows) system administrator position, for which I am qualified in my opinion, I have changed my focus towards a Desktop Support Position. Why? Certifications. I do not have one to my name. Four and a half years combined between sysadmin and desktop support experience. Experienced with Windows 9x/NT4/2k/XP workstations and NT4 and 2000 servers.

0 active directory and 0 MCP tests. At this point in discussions with recruiters or HR people, the discussion goes something like this. "Well, you don't have the kind of (experience)(certifications) we are looking for. We'll keep your resume and contact you if we find a position for you."

As I see it, I can:
1. Give up on IT and go work in a non-technical job. (Frustration talking but it is a remote possibility. Gotta eat after all.)
2. Grind away at finding desktop support position although it is a huge step back in pay. This is where I am now, needing to find a position, even if it is a bridge position, to get out of temporary living situation.
3. Take a loan and go to bootcamp, then grind at finding sysadmin position. I want to do this but I am hesitant. The ones that offer financial aid typically offer MCSE in bundle with MCSA and Security+. Also, I have not been able to find a 3rd party site which reviews certification programs.

I need some serious advice here.

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Certifications, Schmertifications

by NuSigF In reply to Need career advice

I am an Information Security professional who, until recently, also did not have a certification. I did some studying in my off time (evenings and weekends for about a month) and took and passed the CISSP exam, and grandfathered into a CISM certification. To what end? Nothing. I've looked for local jobs (San Diego), but I guess CISSP/CISM doesn't hold much water for the career move I want.

Seriously, though, weigh your options for certification (there are online certification comparison sites). Most professionals don't place a lot of credence in certifications because they produce "paper certs" or people who get certified because they test well, not because they have any relevant knowledge.

If I didn't have mortgages, I would build motorcycles in my garage with my dysfunctional family and sell the tapes to the Discovery Channel.

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by Salamander In reply to Need career advice

I'd suggest either the first or the second option. You've been unemployed for eleven months. You're going to have a hard time explaining that lapse in a job interview if you don't find something and get moving.

While it's nice to dream about the perfect job, and if your true passion is getting an MCSE, by all means, go for it...once you've got your house in order. To me, if you're in a bad financial situation, it makes no sense to incur more debt for a questionable outcome.

There's a balance between dreaming and doing. We all have to do things we don't like in order to achieve larger dreams. You may have to take a lower-paying job, or one out of your field in order to make ends meet. There's no dishonor in on your certs in your spare time and see if you can make another go of moving back into your field later.

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by jbaker In reply to Need career advice

If you are serious about IT, then get out there and search. Have you talked to RHI (Robert Half)? They have tests that will actually cover knowledge, not just whether or not you have certs. Or go to work for one of the "techs on wheels" companies. That will at least keep you in the technical game until you can find a position that fits what you want.

Ot try this. Call your local large moving company (Allied Van Lines, etc) that does corporate moves. Ask them who does there computer connects/disconnects. More than likely that company is a small to medium sized IT provider. It is a good bet that you could work contract with them (for moves and other services), and if you can prove yourself, they will more than likely hire you on. Then it is just a matter of time before you find something that suits you permanently. Or, you may find that you like that business...

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by Synthetic In reply to Need career advice

Start with getting a few certs that will cost little, and be easily passed with your experience. I would recommend the A+ and N+. Once you have these, mixed with your experience, you should find yourself in a much better position. Once, certs mattered not, as experience was, and still remains the key component to most hires. Now though, many people have certifications, and experience, so you need to get a couple to help you compete. I suggest the A+ and N+, as they cost $125 to test, are easy to find study materials for, and demonstrate a non-vendor specif range of knowledge. Take any work you can for now, supporting yourself will remain the most important thing you can do, and while it sucks to burn bridges by taking a desk-top support job for a few months while you test out and find a better position, this is a more noble road than being broke (and the adage that it's easier to find a job when you have one really does seem to hold weight, do ask me why). You never know, maybe a desktop job will be great, less stress, no weekends on call, when 5 rolls around, you go home, not activities a admin gets to take. Honestly, this may be a great time for you to go back to school, start that home business you've always wanted, or just drop out and travel for a while. Maybe a year with a low stress job will give you just the opportunity to take night class and do something you really want to do. If that is technology, then the only answer is to get certs quick, or work on your MS, or BA in computer engineering, or some related field. Your position is not enviable, nor is is completely dire, you do have options, and this is more than so many in this world ever get. It can always be worse. Good luck though, what part of the country are you in?

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4 1/2 years experience and no offerings!

by jsfald In reply to Need career advice

That surprises me that 4 1/2 years experience will not land you a Junior System Administration position.

Here are my opinions to your three options. My opinions are based on the fact that I hate debt and would do just about anything to avoid it.

1. I would take a non-IT job if it payed more than the IT jobs that are available and I would be happy doing that type of job. Ideally your non-IT job is one where you can suggest IT solutions to some problems. By suggesting, and hopefully being the one who implements them, your employer will see your IT experience and recommend you for an IT position with the company. If no such jobs are available then your job could at least fund your self study towards IT certifications until you get back into an IT job.

2. This is not a bad option depending on the company you are hired with. A desktop support position could get you in the door and could pay for your advanced certifications. Your past experience should also be able to get you promoted when opportunities arise.

3. Since bootcamp = debt for me, I would not do it. Like Sythetic said, with your experience you should easily be able to get the A+ and Network+ certifications, which count towards an MCSA also.

Good luck.

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glad I didn't give up

by xalorous In reply to 4 1/2 years experience an ...

I had an nibble for a great position. Tiger team doing migration from NT and Exchange 5.5 to Active Directory and 2k3. It didn't work out because of my lack of experience. Same contract needed desktop support, which I was interested in as a entry point, but I was overqualified. (I assume...and I can't ask because the subcontractor who put me up for the position made me angry by making me wait 5 days over a holiday weekend to get the bad news, and I told him I thought it was rude and inconsiderate, oh well, one bridge burnt.)

As synthetic mentioned, experience counts more than certification, but in this market, you have to have the certs or they don't look at the experience.

All is not bad though. I found a temp position doing a XP rollout. The project is supposed to last 2 to 4 months. After which I can do it again or move on to a different job. Disadvantages include that it is nowhere near where I live and the pay is less than I want. Advantage is that it is income and experience. I plan to study for A+ and take it after one or two months. With my desktop support and hobbyist experience, I haven't learned much that is new from my first study guide (Mike Meyers Passport to A+)

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