I started using Linux in high school with Slackware 3.0, and continued on using it as a desktop through college. After graduating during a recession with a degree in computer engineering, I couldn't find anybody willing to hire somebody with 0 experience. I ended up working as an office assitant doing mostly data entry for about a year at a local government office. Eventually there was a job opening for somebody who knows Linux in the IT department. Being in the government sector, they were rather prejudiced towards government employees, paid crap, and had a 15 page application that took a couple hours to fill out. I was also able to see who the hiring manager was, so I would stop by and bug him whenever I had documents to deliver to the office where IT was based. Eventually, about 6 or 7 months after I first applied I got the job. Fortunately for me, there was nobody who really knew enterprise Linux working there, so I was able to get in.
On another path were a couple more guys in IT who ended up becoming Linux admins. One started out in desktop support and another started out on the helpdesk. The guy in desktop support worked in the same office as the (two) Linux admins, so we got to know him pretty well. He had used Linux a lot at home, ran it on his desktop at work, but mostly he was smart and capable of learning new things well as needed. 100 servers later and during a re-org, the powers that be were finally convinced that we needed another Linux admin, so we volunteered that guy. The helpdesk guy was another similar story. He worked far removed from us in the call center, but we still talked to them when calls came in and would stop by and visit every once inawhile. He would call from time to time just with his own questions about Linux, and would usually not ask the same question twice. When he did forward on a helpdesk call, he was one of the few people working there who did the basic troubleshooting they were supposed to do like pinging servers, checking credentials, user account lockouts, etc. If we got a ticket from him, then it was usually because something was really wrong or he didn't have the access rights needed for the fix. When one of the (now three) admins left, we told our boss that we wanted that guy to work with us.
So, you can bug the hiring manager so that he recognizes you and be one of the only people working someplace who can spell linux, or you can get a crap IT job, get to know the *nix admins well, ask them the right questions, and have a track record of knowing how to think logically and do some complex problem solving.