Help with career guidance?

Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
I'm looking to move forward in my career, I have a lot of years in IT but a goofy/varied background and while job hunting now I find that I don't fit the ideal profile of a lot of jobs that are posted. While I realize that is the best case scenario of a candidate and sometimes even unrealistic when matched with their pay and benefits I'd still like to try to be a good choice for an employer.

About me, I was building computers and doing family and friend’s tech support in the mid-late 90s, in 99 I got my MCSE in NT4. Shortly after that I got a job as the single IT guy / systems admin for a mid size non-profit, 7 offices and just me so I ran around a lot and figured out whatever I didn't know.

I think I've always had good problem solving abilities and tend to just dig through issues and learn new software/platforms/etc as needed. While that is a good quality while I'm already at a job, it's not easy to convey to someone who hasn't already hired you that while you may not already know X, you'll dig in with both hands and learn it. I'm good with people and can communicate complicated situations well to less technical people. So, I'm not the type to hide behind a keyboard and be afraid of meetings or authority but at a certain point I feel like employers want to see more immediately demonstrable skills vs. just strong people skills and the ability to quickly grasp the newly needed skills.

In 2002 I got my CCNA, and immediately took a job as the first employee at a pharmaceutical startup, we grew quickly but I was the only hardware/network/systems person there until we were bought out years later. Learned a lot there, AD, larger scale networking, Exchange, IIS, SQL, document management. But only having to deal with a couple hundred employees until we were bought out a lot of the servers I set up didn't require a ton of day to day maintenance. So at this point I wouldn't say I'm an Exchange, SQL, etc. guru. Could I be? Probably, but it would take some time and experience. As for the CCNA, without really having a lot of need to dig into the Cisco material much at my job a lot of it faded. Overall it was a good job, paid very well, mostly decent coworkers.

After the company was bought out they moved all of our tech to their main headquarters and I was let go. I was unemployed for a bit then I started doing consulting on my own, websites, small business IT setup, troubleshooting, repair, etc. I did that until my current job, which was sort of misrepresented. I took the job thinking it was going to be more hardware/servers/etc with a bit of Ecommerce needs thrown in there, ended up being almost all Ecommerce stuff, but on terrible platforms, so web development but on platforms so junky you can't really call it "development", site promotion, tweaking data to fit between different systems, I really don't enjoy it very much and I'm looking to move on.

I started at WGU earlier in the year; I did the A+, MTA (Win7), CCNA, CCNA Security and am now working on the Security+. I figure less than a year until I'm done since I had a lot of college before. If it matters I'm enjoying the security material more than strictly networking, and I figured with a varied background security might be a good fit to focus on.

The problem I'm having now is while my past jobs have had the title of systems and/or network admin, it's not exactly the same skillset I seem to be finding now. Seems like every reasonably close job that I find that I think would be a good working environment wants lots of VMWare/virtualization experience which I don't have any of. Experience with Unix/Linux, again, none of that. Looking at security positions seems to specify a CISSP which I don't have and I'm not at that level yet. While all these things are stuff I'm sure I could learn (alone or at the job) I'm not sure how to handle not having the experience already or a way to get it at my current job. It would seem like a bit of a stretch to just try to self study everything that I see floating around in different job requirements as it’s pretty varied.

If you’ve made it all the way down here (thanks!), any suggestions on how to move forward into new/better employment from this point?


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    LarryDaManLarryDaMan Member Posts: 797
    The ability to adapt and learn and succeed in varied environments is very important and you have that quality. Most people want a guy like you. The challenge is to express that on your resume and in your interviews. The "I can learn and do anything" person can go far. Work on the education and the advanced certifications, but in the meantime, take what you wrote in this post and craft great examples/stories of your abilities. No one is going to know everything, but a person who you can trust to figure it out, is gold.
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    paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    As you apply for positions, are you getting interviews but getting rejections? Or are you simply not getting any interviews. Perhaps if you posted a sanitized version of your resume, we can help you tweak it. The description of your experience makes a great story. I would imagine your type of self-starter and ability to grow from scratch would be very appealing to a lot of companies. Perhaps if you targeted small startup companies in your area, that could be a good fit.
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    Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Thanks, Larry, it's nice to hear that maybe the outlook wasn't as bleak as I was starting to imagine. I like the idea of crafting my resume more in the fashion of selling me vs just listing job titles, technology types and time frames, I'll have to work on it for sure.

    Paul78, I haven't been on an interview in a long time actually. What sparked all this is a former coworker from awhile back contacted me about a job opportunity. I'd rather not say where he was but it was a very exciting opportunity and he said with my background he could get me in with his recommendation no problem. So, I started brushing up my resume and getting into the mindset of moving forward then I found out that an old employee that was transferred in that company requested to come back as soon as the position became available, which effectively shut me out because the transferred employee was already everything they were looking for. What I've mostly been doing so far is looking on craigslist and websites for other local companies and schools (there are a lot of colleges in my area) to see if there is anything that would fit my skillset well. That is what prompted me writing this long, rambling thread since the posted requirements for a lot of the positions that I found seemed hard to fill for what they were offering in compensation.

    I did give my resume to a friend of mine at a local HUGE company, I'm not really a giant company guy but they had an opening in the infosec department, I haven't heard anything back so I have to hassle him and see if that produces anything.
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    --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    A coworker of mine is from another country, and recently told me he was (and is) still shocked at how easily most Americans give up or give in when things get a little hard. Quite simply, he said "You have to FIGHT for it" whatever it is.

    Eventually, no matter what..if you fight for something hard enough you will get it. The people competing with you will give up, you will get more skilled, you will eventually get a job but only if you keep fighting for it.
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    paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    @Danielm7 - perhaps you may be pleasantly surprised if you started to apply for jobs in earnest. Try posting your resume on Dice - use LinkedIn. And don't be dissuade by all the various requirements that you may see in a job posting. The thing to remember is that a job posting is a wish-list by the employer. And it sounds like you have a good story to tell. Heck, my current job requires a masters, but I don't have a college degree. To echo what @--chris-- said - you do need to have the tenacity to reach for it and not give up.
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