I recently was fired for a small mistake I made and a really unreasonable boss that was pretty much impossible to negotiate with. Something small was blown up to be something huge primarily because of lack of technical understanding of the situation from the executive level, and the boss in question did not like me and took advantage of the situation. It was an ugly and unstable work environment and if I was smart, I would have tried to get out of much earlier before I got into this situation like a lot of my colleagues did. With that, I take full responsibility for both making the mistake and also out of pure laziness not looking for a better fit sooner and now I am bearing the brunt of it.
The issue is I have been at this for about a month with around 7 serious interviews from around 3-4 different companies and around 60+ jobs applied for. I do not think my resume is the problem because I am getting calls. I usually get past the HR interview and have gotten to several technical rounds which I feel really confident about afterword, but it usually ends with a lot of companies saying that they think I should come back in a year or so of experience or after I obtain the certs they require. I have also gotten a ton of recruiters that have ghosted me after the initial first call so I would say I have spoken to at least 8-10 different people.
I think my main issue is that a lot of what is killing my chances is the lack of experience in the field. I can answer the technical interview questions fine usually without stumbling, but I can't help but feel that a decision is already made because my experience in infosec is around a year and 10 months without any related certs. I have 5+ years of experience as a System Administrator and a Bachelor's in CS with a really good GPA, but no one really cares about that. Frustratingly, a lot of the companies that DO call me back are higher up positions that I know right off the bat I am probably not qualified for. I still try my best, but the results are no better than an interview practice session.
I understand that getting certs in the focus areas that I am interested in will drastically help me, especially because I've been wanting to break into security consulting from the offensive side where my current experience is in more in more of a security analyst/incident response role. The issues is that I obviously don't have the income right now to go after certs.
I have not been picky about what position I apply for even if its not entirely interesting to me because I need the money. I've even considered and pursued really crappy lower pay short term contracts without benefits or time off because I am getting desperate. I need a job now until I can get on my feet again, but can't seem to find anything more fitting to my experience level. It's almost as if junior level security analyst positions don't exist and I've screwed my chances by losing this job. I am on indeed, dice, and all of the other job boards, I spent a lot of time updating my LinkedIn and resume with any relevant classes or experience I have, I included the SANS CTFs that I have won to show that I am also passionate outside of the workplace, I am trying every avenue I discover to find a job. Do I give up on the dream of being in cyber security and just try and get a position as a system administrator again? InfoSec has been the only work that I have ever felt excited about and brought home as my hobby, it would crush me to have to give it up. What am I doing wrong? I don't know if I am just being impatient because of the money situation I see on the horizon, but I feel like I have exhausted the job pool around where I can reasonably commute without enough savings right now to move to another state. At this point I interviewed and would have accepted a job with over a 2 hours and 30 minute commute into NYC just so I can start making money again. Please help me keep my sanity reddit.
tl;dr – I made a mistake and got fired. Having a hard time finding infosec positions with 1 year and 10 months experience and no certs. I only have a couple months left of savings before I'm spent. Should I give up on having a career in infosec and just go back to system administration?