1. Talk to IT recruiters and placement firms in your area to get a sense of the employability of MCSEs in your region. It may be there are companies looking for people like you, but you and they haven't been able to hook up.
2. Talk to local churches, schools, non-profits, and charities to see about volunteering for system or network administration work. With some spare time (off-hours or weekends are usually fine for these groups, since they can't afford to pay you) you can still gain some experience--and hopefully, a letter of recommendation from your chosen organization.
3. Investigate opportunities with temporary agencies. Many of these organizations place part or full-time IT professionals into companies on an as-needed basis. This is another good "foot in the door" strategy.
4. You might also try looking for network installer, network technician, or help desk professional positions. These pay less, require less experience, but can also provide a different kind of "foot in the door" strategy.
This was first published in March 2002