It's not easy trying to get your first job in IT, you have to compete against candidates who have years of experience. However many of these experienced candidates don't have certifications or a college degree to back up their on-the-job experience, as an older IT professional I find myself in this category.
Unfortunately it is an employers market, where they can pick and choose who they hire. IT graduates sometimes find themselves in a catch 22 position where they can't get a job without experience without getting a job in the first place.
However, a good certification such as the CCNA and a relevant college degree is still the best way to position yourself for your future career, or to expand your career as I am doing.
Certifications provide you with some hands-on configuration experience that will be a step in the right direction to getting the experience you need, however in order to get the commercial experience employers want, you'll have to start from the bottom and work your way up to those high-paying IT positions.
Remember that employers generally like to promote from within their company, so don't be disheartened if you have to start in an entry-level help desk position. Remember nobody starts out at the top. Work hard and seek the promotion when it becomes available.
If an employer offers a 6-month contract don't dismiss the opportunity to show your worth. If you are good they are likely to employ you on a full-time basis when the contract ends. The same goes for temporary roles, try and get your foot in the door and impress.
Don't forget the local computer support companies. These companies can provide you with invaluable experience and their hiring requirements are generally less than big corporations. You my even find that they are willing to sub-contract jobs to workers.
Non-profit organizations such as churches and charities need IT support too, and volunteering is another route to getting valuable experience. This will look great on your resume and hopefully you'll get glowing references too.
Craft a resume that doesn't sell yourself short, you want your resume to stand out from the crowd. Include all your relevant IT skills and emphasize industry buzzwords that employers are asking for on job adverts if you have those skills. Add any relevant experience with certain technologies should be added.
Remember, you may not have a wealth of experience that other job candidates have, but this is only one attribute employers look for. If you can demonstrate your professionalism, passion for technology as well as being able to communicate as well as relevant qualifications you will eventually succeed in breaking into IT.
Good luck in your job search and career in information technology.