a. Thinking that CEO's, head hunters and firms are out there to hire the best talent they can lay their hands upon.

I used to be very good at computer networks when I began my career. I've taken a lot of shit in data centers, like real hard shit, which even people with 15 years experience haven't seen. (Trust me, I'm not making this up). Within 6 months of me working in the data networks field, I could walk into any interview and blow the interviewer's mind with my skillset, i.e. I could face the heat even if the interviewer tunes up the thermostat a hundred notches up. Let me give you an example.

You know what did I do the first day of my networks career? Like the very first day when I thought a 4948 switch was having multiple holes in it and it looked like modern art to me (later I came to know that the 4948 has 48 ports and the holes are the ports). I setup the Cisco 3 tier network with core, access and distribution layers, configured NAT for the internet link, setup a Juniper Netscreen firewall for 1st layer of defense and did a couple of IOS image backups. Within a span of 6 hours. Hell, I even setup the primary configuration for a Cisco ACE load balancer that day. All because the senior engineer did not show up to the site as he did not want to rack and stack the devices at the site (most of them were big 7600 and 6500 series switches. See below for the image).

Six months into my job and I've done about 30 down time upgrades and migrations, 8 datacenter implementations which include banks, telecom giants, hospitals, other kinds of firms, you name it. 2 years into my role, I've had 4 people reporting to me, although I was at the same level as those guys profile wise, and I made sure that I brought them up to speed with my skillset. They could do independent work within 2 years. This is a task usually given to senior engineers. I started designing my own networks at the end of 1 year (which usually is done by my boss and he has about 10-11 years of experience and is a CCIE. Like he is really my role model and he literally kicks ass in his work).

But then, I came to the USA for my *******. I did my specialization in networks and started working towards getting a job in the same field. However, I did not get a single interview call. Because the hiring agents have already made up their minds to not interview me as

I have just 2-3 years of experience. How does this even matter? So much for "we live in deeds not in years" thingy.
I may not have the skill set anymore, since it's been more than 2 years that I've been out of touch.
I lack the necessary certifications (CCNA, CCNP, CCIE).
It's been 3.5 years now since I've see a real network device (except my own home internet modem). I can still dare anyone that I can configure a cisco/router/switch blindfolded (well, maybe not blindfolded, but you get my point.)

b. Thinking that I can switch careers and just get away with a slap on the wrist

In most places I've worked, I've seen that your current job (no matter how closely related it is to your previous experience) if it's not utilizing the same skillset you had in your previous role, you are basically a beginner. I switched from Networks to IT Auditing and then to IT/Finance operations audit. This gave me a whole new range of skills - IT operations, business operations, finance, risk management, governance, compliance, program development, etc. etc. You could find more in my resume - here - https://www.linkedin.com/in/nairar).

However, people still think I'm a beginner. That I'm an entry level employee. Every place I've gone to, I've begun working without training, without a learning curve, properly understanding the nuances and the skillset required to take over a certain role before I took the role and I've hit it out of the park every single time. However, people still want me to go through the same promotion gambit as we live in deeds not in years!

Update 1:

Well, I can't complain at all after seeing such an overwhelming response to my answer. Thanks guys. There are a few points people had raised in the comments that I wanted to bring to your notice and answer at the same time:

That I should try out consulting, due to it's various perks.
The very reason I and many/some of the other employees are "employed" with a firm is due to the fact that we have excuses (mind you, I know this is an excuse, as I am no Elon Musk to get inspired within a day and do magic that never tanks in the end) for not being able to come up with a starting capital for the firm, not having the balls to start something which we feel very passionate about but are not sure how the revenue generation model would look like, or when would we break even, etc. The other excuses could be like the ones in my case - you have responsibilities to attend to, as in the Indian ecosystem of things our parents take care of us till 30 (maybe even more) till we slowly transition, grow balls and take care of them from then on. Or maybe we have student loans that we need to take care of. Or worse, we never grow balls at all. Whatever be the excuse, you could be rest assured that inspiration is fueled only by a perfect alchemy of situations; it won't happen if you have responsibilities sitting on your head which affect other people in your life. It would be stupid for me to start a consulting business or any business in light of my current predicaments and responsibilities, one which I see vanishing in the horizon, so yes, something would be up for works then. But that's a long way down the lane. If you've gone through my LinkedIn profile and Quora, you know I don't say things just to say, I usually end up doing them.

2. That I should try start ups.

Well that is an excellent idea actually. In fact, I've got a few offers before from start up firms which I even mulled over for a couple weeks before I gave up. The problem I see with start ups is my growth factor w.r.t this particular field. The reason I designed and configured close to 10000 devices in my first year of data networks career was due to the fact that the environments (networks of the firms) were primarily giant networks for huge conglomerates. I never worked for a small client, because my boss was a cool guy, and his personal hobby was to give me a knife and throw me into the jungle of a totally screwed up network just to see how I fare. And he made sure he never handled a single issue that had to pass by me. That's how he did things, and that's how I learnt. Start-ups? Naaaah! They won't have that scale that I yearn for. You can probably have a few routers here and there, probably one unix-kernelled open source firewall just to keep a firewall in the game, but you won't find a FW-1 Nokia Checkpoint or a Nexus 7000 in such small firms due to stringent operating capitals.

Would I ever go back to it? Definitely! :)

You see they say that it takes a lifetime to know what's ones passion. I'll try and define it through a story -

I used to sit in a data center without seeing the light of day for 2-3 days at a stretch, just to figure out the smallest nuances of a networking configuration. There were days when I used to go without eating anything, because I did not remember I was hungry. There were days when I almost cried - like when I saw the FW-1 firewall for the first time. Did you know that Checkpoint being an Israeli company is "haraam" for Arab nations? And still Arab nations deploy these firewalls in their banks and datacenters? Did you know that FW-1 was a name that the firm proposed (not sure whether this is true) because the Firewall was basically impenetrable and it was the best of it's kind ever?

I had the entire IP network and it's schema mapped out in my head (for 2000 devices at a time yes!) and I could tell you which device had which IP without going through the schema. I used to configure something like BGP from home, just to put extra barriers in my configuration path (configuring something like BGP remotely is insane, but doable. You may bring down the network if a single configuration goes wrong, or if your calculations for the routes go down). I ofcourse never did this on a production network, but I neither did these things during my work time. When did I do this? Well you guessed it - on Saturdays and Sundays.

There are stories that I could go on to tell you, stories that happened within such a short span, like how I configured a cisco load balancer to act as a router to the internet because the router failed at the last moment, or how I used to prank my project manager using web host redirection such that he always ends up at the "Metallica" website when he wanted to fill in my timesheets for me.

You get the picture now I guess. I define this as passion.

Edit 06/01/16:

Many have said that “maybe” what I did has not scaled up to the levels of the giants in this industry, so I should take it slow when it comes to arrogance. I should not think that I am that “great”! I think that I “definitely” did not do anything great. I gained knowledge and I learned in a way such that it was undersigned by hard work and perseverance. I did not have any special talents to learn networks. It was not my choice. It was not handed over to me by the alignment of planets as it happens for talented people. I was “dumped” into it. I am just a middle class guy who had to step up to take care of his family in the time of need, and I did that through my job. What you don’t see is that it just happened for me to be my first job, and I converted networks into my passion. The more I learnt about networks, the more I wanted to learn more. It was a never ending cycle.

The Indian service industry is ruthless. You don’t get “perks” from companies like mine when you have to run around client data centers located in remote areas, where even basic necessities like internet are an issue. My firm had this rule that if you can travel to a place within 24 hours by bus, you take the bus. And my friend, try traveling from say, Bangalore to Kerala, in a KSRTC bus for days in a row. You’ll see my point. This is not just me, but every other engineer who used to work there.

You say that if I have not stepped up to the ranks of 15 year experienced people “then when I was in the field”, I think you are mistaken. I think I did gain enough experience because not one person can claim that they know everything about networks, even if they worked in the field for 50 years. There are chances you would fail in your CCNA exams even after 20 years in the field. Yes there are! But the chances are close to 0.1%. I had people of those ranks work with me, giants that you claim to be. They have endorsed my skills, check out my LinkedIn profile again. They have recommended me for what I’ve done. Check out my recommendations. They know I won’t boast of my skills without it holding some water. They know I’ve learnt through other giants.

My then project manager has recommended me and in his recommendation he takes the names of the “so called” giants. So, let’s put your notions to rest that I should not beat my chest while I can. Yes, I can and Yes I will. I deserve it, as much as you do if you’ve done anything in your life in the first place.

Source: https://www.quora.com/What-has-been-...career-mistake

Neteller here: www.ituglobalfx.com.ng